The Pryce is right for McDonagh

07.05.04 - By Ben Carey: Manchester “Storm Boy” Thomas McDonagh successfully made the second defence of his WBU International light-middleweight bauble but was pushed all the way by a spirited Bradley Pryce in an absorbing 12-rounder at the Barnsley Metrodome on this Sports Network / Koncrete Promotions Fight Skool bill.

Judges Dave Parris, Reg Thompson and Tony Walker made McDonagh a unanimous winner by scores of 115-113 (twice) and 116-113. British Eastside had it closer at 114-113 but McDonagh, backed by tremendous support, did just enough to maintain his unbeaten record that now stretches to an impressive 24-0-2 (5).

Thomas, sporting some eye-catching tasselled shorts, made a positive start and clearly held significant height and reach advantages over Pryce. Judging by the fact that McDonagh has campaigned at light-middle exclusively throughout his career this looked a tough night’s work for the Welshman who was once again stepping up in weight after beginning his career at lightweight. Both men went eyeball to eyeball after the bell sounded to end a lively opening round.

Referee Mickey Vann warned them to break clean in round 2 as they battled to establish an early foothold in the fight. It was McDonagh who had settled the better and his long, piercing jab consistently found Pryce’s face as he attempted to slip inside it. Thomas was boxing well and two straight rights snapped Bradley’s head back to delight his army of fans. Whilever the fight remained at long range there was only going to be one winner.

McDonagh’s stinging blows had already developed a lump on the bridge of Pryce’s nose who had to find a way to slip the jab. After a difficult beginning, the Welshman came back into proceedings in round 3, blazing away at McDonagh’s lanky body as he rested against the ropes. The earlier potency of Thomas’s jab wasn’t quite so evident now which allowed Bradley to edge closer. A quick left hook and right hand was more like it from McDonagh in the 5th who had awoken from a lazy spell. Blood was now pouring from Pryce’s nose that wasn’t helped by the nasty lump on the bridge of it either.

McDonagh was threatening to run away with it but the smaller Pryce gritted his teeth and ensured the fight remained in the balance by taking the sixth. McDonagh wasn’t throwing his jab with any frequency which allowed Pryce to get set and fire the opening salvo in the exchanges. A good right followed by some effective work to the body was better from the challenger. There was little between them in the seventh which produced an action-packed round. Both men smiled at one another after trading left hooks in the centre of the ring but McDonagh went a step further by dropping his hands to momentarily mock Pryce. The Welshman was closing the gap on the scorecards though which was no laughing matter for Thomas’s corner who led by Brian Hughes instructed him to step it up.

McDonagh regained his wavering focus to outbox Pryce in the 8th but this continued to be anyone’s fight. Back came Bradley in the 9th and he had McDonagh briefly trapped in a neutral corner where he was able to let loose to the Manchester man’s body. McDonagh responded with a countering left hook but Pryce, who has been stopped by Ted Bami and Neil Sinclair previously, absorbed the blow well without buckling. Although the naturally smaller man, Pryce demonstrated his growing confidence by throwing McDonagh to the floor as the pair became embroiled in a clinch.

McDonagh, when given time and space, can certainly put his shots together well but too frequently stands to admire his work. With the fight there to be won Pryce persisted with his body attack that was picking up points. Having given Pryce the tenth I had the Welshman edging in front on my card for the first time in the fight. McDonagh’s title was in danger of slipping away but acknowledging this the 23-year-old gentle giant gritted his teeth to steal the final two rounds. Just when he needed to discover an extra gear McDonagh stepped on the gas and a right followed by an uppercut inside sent blood spraying from Pryce’s nose in the 11th.

The champion was up on his toes in the final round and did some effective work inside before tieing Pryce up to prevent him from replying. McDonagh had rallied and produced the cleaner work in the final two rounds to edge home. Sound defensively and possessing an excellent jab, McDonagh is a difficult proposition when in full flow. However, the unbeaten champion looks to lack a dig in order subdue his opponents as he steps up in class. It will be interesting to see what Sports Network do with him next. A fight with the more established Takaloo could be one option that would make for an interesting clash of styles. Though having come up short in championship class again, at welterweight, on last night’s performance, Bradley Pryce still has a future in the sport.

Article posted on 07.05.2004

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