Friday, August 21, 2009

British Scene Season Preview Part One; Simpson vs Truscott, O'Donnell vs Glover, Davis vs Napa, Fury vs McDermott & Olusegun vs Daws

The new British boxing season is just about ready to get underway and over the next couple days Dave Oakes will be previewing what we have to look forward to in September and October.

In today's preview:

John Simpson vs Paul Truscott - Commonwealth featherweight title

John O'Donnell vs Tom Glover - Commonwealth welterweight title

Gary Davis vs Ian Napa - British bantamweight title

Tyson Fury (Photo © Justin McKie) vs John McDermott - English heavyweight title

Ajose Olusegun vs Lenny Daws - British light-welterweight title

It’s at times like this when all British based boxing fans are starting to get withdrawal symptoms. It’s been nearly a month since the last boxing card that contained a title fight, and a month is a long time for any boxing addict. So, with the inevitable feeling of melancholy descending upon me, I decided to raise my spirits by taking a brief look at what we can look forward to when the new season starts in September.

Simpson vs Truscott

First up is the rematch between Commonwealth featherweight champion John Simpson and former champion Paul Truscott on September 4th. Simpson stopped Truscott in the 8th round of their first meeting after a clash of heads opened up a nasty gash above the then champion’s right eye. Simpson was clearly ahead on the cards at the time but Truscott believes there’s unfinished business to be taken care of.

Simpson’s speed surprised Truscott last time out, Truscott thought he could dance rings around Simpson but found that the experienced Scotsman was no slouch in closing the distance between them. If Truscott has learnt from their first fight, and can make the necessary adjustments, he can make it a much closer battle.

O'Donnell vs Glover

In the days of protected fighters with padded undefeated records, it’s good to see a fighter like John O’Donnell proving that a defeat can be a positive rather than a negative.

O’Donnell was a much touted prospect in the early part of his career and was looking the part until bumping into one Christian Solano on a hot night in Vegas in May of 2007. O’Donnell, eager to impress on his U.S debut, was caught cold and went down heavily after a short left hook landed around his temple midway through the first round, he managed to get to his feet but never seemed to recover.

His corner waved the fight off in the second round after he was dropped heavily by another hook, he’d managed to get to his feet again but his legs were still shaky and it was a sensible decision by his trainer Robert McCracken to stop the fight.

Such a devastating defeat proved hard for the likable Londoner to take, he took an extended break before eventually returning to the ring just over a year later, his batteries recharged and mind focused on the future rather than the past.

His patience and determination paid off when he claimed the Commonwealth welterweight title earlier this year, winning on a split decision after a bruising encounter with Craig Watson. Watson started the quicker but O’Donnell came on strong in the later rounds to just edge a fight in which he showed plenty of heart as well as some superb technical boxing.

He returns to the ring on September 5th against the durable but limited Tom Glover in a fight that should be a competitive warm up before the first defence of his Commonwealth title in December.

Glover is in the form of his life having beaten Chas Symonds, Nadeem Siddique and Jon Thaxton in his past three fights. He was considered the underdog in those fights but battled his way to deserved victories through willpower and work-rate. Glover isn’t blessed with great speed, skill or power but makes the most of what he’s got. He’s a fighter that will struggle to win titles in his career but he’ll always gain the respect of his opponents.

O’Donnell should be too skilful for him but Glover will make it a hard night’s work like he always does. I expect the much taller O’Donnell to use his reach advantage to jab and move his way to an early lead before trading punches more as the fight goes on. I think O’Donnell will win somewhere around the 118-110 mark in an entertaining but one-sided fight.

Davis vs Napa

A week later sees Ian Napa challenge Gary Davis for the latter’s British bantamweight title. Napa is coming off a career worst performance, having surrendered his European title in the meekest of manners against Malik Bouziane.

Napa couldn’t get going that night and found himself being picked apart at distance by the much taller man. He needs a performance here to disprove his critics from claiming that his career is on the slide.

Davis, on the other hand, is full of confidence after dropping Matthew Edmonds three times en route to a 7th round stoppage to claim the vacant title earlier this year. Davis imposed his will on Edmonds from the first bell and looked very strong for the weight.

This will be an intriguing clash of styles and experience but I’ve got a feeling the cleaner punching and better tactical nous of Napa will be enough for him to win on points.

Fury vs McDermott

The undercard is headed by Tyson Fury taking on former British title challenger John McDermott. Fury is unbeaten with all of his victories coming inside the distance and will be looking to continue his reign of terror on the domestic heavyweight scene.

McDermott is the nearly man of the division having lost in his three British title attempts. He failed to turn up in his first attempt when he was pummelled to the floor three times and stopped inside a round by Matt Skelton. The other two title defeats were much closer affairs against Danny Williams but it was worrying that when the going got tough, McDermott went into his shell and found a way of losing when he could’ve easily battle his way to victory.

I think this is the perfect fight for Fury at this stage of his career and one in which he’ll be made to work for a few rounds before claiming an impressive stoppage win.

Olusegun vs Daws

The following Friday (September 18) sees the world class Ajose Olusegun defend his British light-welterweight title against former holder Lenny Daws at the legendary York Hall, Bethnal Green.

Olusegun is using this fight as a warm up for a world title eliminator that’s been pencilled in for a month later, this could prove to be a dangerous move if he views Daws as nothing more than a competitive spar.

Daws lost this title in his first defence against Barry Morrison, but still has the ambition and hunger to give Olusegun a real battle. Daws is a pressure fighter who is willing to walk through walls to win.

Olusegun should be too classy for Daws and should be able to pick him apart off the back foot, but if he takes his foot off the gas, or lets Daws get into a rhythm, then he could be in for a bruising night.

e-mail Dave Oakes

Check out the second half of Dave's season preview: British Scene Season Preview Part Two: Macklin vs Asikainen, Thaxton vs Murray, Sexton vs Rogan & Booth vs Hunter