Sunday, September 6, 2009

British Scene: Simpson Stops Game Truscott

Dave Oakes recaps the rematch between British featherweights John Simpson and Paul Truscott.

John Simpson retained his Commonwealth featherweight title on Friday night after stopping Paul Truscott in the tenth round of a savage fight that kicked off the British season in style.

Both fighters started at a fast pace with Truscott landing crisp jabs and Simpson landing a couple of solid overhand rights. The round was fairly even but I felt Truscott was landing the cleaner punches and was looking like a much improved fighter from their first meeting.

Truscott was stopped on a cut in their last meeting and it looked like history would repeat itself in the second round when a clash of heads left him with a nasty cut above his right eye. Sensing the fight might be stopped, Truscott changed tactics and elected to stand and trade with the much stronger Simpson. He did well to match Simpson in the round but you had a feeling watching it that the change of tactics would play into the champions hands.

Truscott started the third round in ferocious fashion, firing punch after punch at Simpson. Simpson isn’t one to back down from a tear-up though, and came back with some heavy shots of his own. Truscott was getting the better of the round but disaster struck towards the end of the round when he was cut yet again, this time around his left eyelid.

Truscott’s corner did well to stem the flow of blood between rounds but the fourth had barely begun when Simpson landed a couple of glancing blows that sent blood streaming down the challengers face. The referee took Truscott into the corner to be examined by the doctor, and after a wipe of his face and a brief inspection of the damage, the doc gave the fight the go ahead to resume. Truscott, clearly feeling he was on borrowed time, went on the offensive. Both fighters traded heavy blows in what was a tremendously brutal and exciting round, but it was obvious that Truscott was facing an uphill battle from there on in.

Simpson could sense victory was near and put his foot on the gas in the fifth round. After four close rounds, this was the first round that either boxer had clearly won; Simpson was closing Truscott down quickly, trapping him against the ropes before firing three and four punch combinations at him. Truscott was still throwing his own punches but they were having little effect on the fired up Scotsman.

The sixth followed the pattern set in the fifth, with Simpson battering Truscott with some heavy shots before having to weather the occasional brave flurry from the bloodied but ever so brave challenger.

Simpson took complete control of the fight over the next two rounds, he was landing heavy punch after heavy punch and Truscott’s face was beginning to look like something out of a slash horror movie. To his credit, Truscott still tried to trade blows despite the fact he was struggling to see. At one point, to the amusement of the fans, he used the referee’s shirt as a towel to wipe away the blood from his face. It provided a brief moment of light heartedness in the middle of a fierce battle.

If things couldn’t get any worse for him, Truscott received a standing eight count in the ninth round after the referee wrongly ruled that he’d touched down following a hook from the champion that clipped the side of his head and made him momentarily lose his footing. Perhaps the referee didn’t find the whole wiping his bloodied face on his shirt as amusing as the rest of us did!

The end came in the tenth. With Truscott tiring and taking more and more punches, Simpson went into overdrive, landing shots that were now rocking the challengers head back. Halfway through the round Truscott was trapped against the ropes, he had been before in the fight and had managed to bravely fight his way out, it wasn’t to be this time though as Simpson landed two crushing hooks that had Truscott sagging prompting the referee to jump in to save him from taking further punishment.

Truscott howled with disappointment at the stoppage but it was the correct decision, sometimes a fighter needs saving from his own bravery. Truscott was in tears in the corner afterwards, distraught at losing in front of his hometown fans for the second time in his career, but after such a courageous performance, he can walk around Middlesbrough with his head held high.

Simpson now moves to 20-6 and looks to have finally established himself at domestic level. He’s expected to make another couple of title defences before challenging the talented Martin Lindsay for the British title sometime next year.

e-mail Dave Oakes