British Boxing Results: Review of events at the O2 Arena

michael sprott14.07.07 - By Andy Olsen: Now that was some night of boxing. The old adage “styles make fights” holds true today. In the three major contests, from the Frank Warren show, we saw two superb fights, with good technical work and all out brawling evident. Skelton v Sprott redefined horrendous, but I’ll come to that later.

As I stated in the preview, the action began at 8PM. We were witness to an intriguing contest, yet the fact remained that beating Steve Luevano was just too big a task for home town favourite Nicky Cook. Traffic problems around the arena led to many of Cooks’ fans missing the fighter’s entrances to the ring. Speaking of the entrance, I would love to know what went through Luevano’s mind when the less than intimidating lyrics to “I’m forever blowing bubbles” rang out over the Speakers.

For those of you reading this outside of the UK, the song is the anthem of Cooks beloved West Ham Football Club, and was well received by the lucky “Hammers” fans that had got in on time to witness it.

It was the American who started the quickest, getting off with decent shots from his right lead stance. He confused Cook early on, making him miss with some wild shots in the process.
Cook would find himself on the canvas halfway through the second. The straight left seemed to catch him on the glove, yet it had sufficient power to floor the Dagenham native. Cook rallied, and withstood Luevano’s subsequent flurry. Roberto Garcia, the former IBF super featherweight champ, and trainer of Luevano, was visibly delighted during rounds, at the start his charge had made.

Decent work in spurts from Luevano saw him maintain his control of the fight. Yet by round 6 Cook had got himself back into the contest. He seemed to deal with Luevano’s southpaw jab, which had been a key factor in his control of the earlier rounds. He arguably claimed the sixth, and one round later he was to have his best round of the fight. Luevano clearly winced at a body shot, and was rocked by another one later in the round. However, the impressive Californian regained control of the fight by the eighth round. His rhythm returned, and it appeared that Cooks chance had passed. By the ninth, Cook looked spent, and such tiredness led to his being decked twice. The bell didn’t come a moment too soon, coming as it did during the count for the second one.

Clearly advised to “go for it”. Cook charged at his opponent in the hope of attaining an unlikely stoppage. Yet knocked down by what didn’t look like too hard a shot. The short right took away Cook’s legs, and Cooks last stand was over. The ending came with the next knockdown, with the towel coming in from Cooks corner 22 seconds into the 11th.

A spirited performance from Nicky, and I for one certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the new champion again. A credible performance from a fighter who was somewhat of an unknown quantity previously.

The fight served as an appetiser for the main event. And what an event it was. We found out a lot about both champion and challenger tonight, as they served up an absolute treat. I hope Kahn’s fans can understand the stance I’m going to take here. Kahn will clearly go on to much bigger and better things, and will be the subject of many a discussion in the future. For now, I would like to focus more on the newly-deposed champion.

Willie Limond was a massive underdog. He had brought a sizeable contingent, for what the vast majority had considered an almost impossible task. Yet he was visibly focussed, and had that determined look going into the ring. It was apparent that he had adopted the “don’t die wondering” (whether or not his best would be good enough). Limond was clearly ready for the fight of his life. And that is what he gave.

Round one served to demonstrate the advantage Kahn had in hand speed. Yet in the second, carelessness from the youngster gave Limond his first early success. He rocked Kahn with a straight right, Kahn in turn acknowledging in a “didn’t hurt” shake of the head (in boxing this usually means it did!). Further success occurred for the champ in the third, although it was the flashier work from Kahn which I believe gave him the round. Decent combinations from Amir were evident in the forth, and it looked like he was starting to get the measure of his Glaswegian adversary. Yet Limond hung in there.

It was the sixth round where the fireworks began. Limond got through with a combination, which had Kahn reeling. He followed up with another flurry, and Kahn found himself on the floor for the first time in his career. The concern from Kahn’s family and friends, which included England Cricketers Sajid Mahmood (his Cousin) and Monty Panessar, was clearly visible, as they collectively held their breath. Kahn was there for the taking, yet the champion, who was considered a light puncher coming into this, couldn’t find the shots which would have put him away.

The chance blown, Kahn had re-gathered his composure, and was able to do some damage of his own. Answering any question of how he would fight hurt, he unleashed a flurry of his own at Limond. It looked like the end was nigh, with a visible amount of swelling appearing all over the Scot’s face. Yet bravely, Limond held on, and saw it through to the final bell. One more round would follow, when Willie was pulled out by his corner. We were to learn that Kahn had broken Limond’s nose and jaw, and his corner mercifully decided enough was enough.

As I’ve stated, I’m sure Kahn will go on to much higher accolades than the Commonwealth title he’s just relieved Limond off. Questions will no doubt be asked of certain aspects of Kahn’s performance, but they can be asked another night. Right now, it’s time to give the previously unheralded Scot the credit he deserves, for the spirited showing he gave in there. Clearly believing in himself when written off, and showing bravery that went way beyond the call of duty, he’s an absolute credit to the sport. No doubt he will be able to get some decent fights himself from this showing. After his injuries have healed of course!

The third contest which was televised, Michael Sprott v Matt Skelton, served its purpose.

Providing of course said purpose was to calm the crowd down, and get them to leave in an orderly fashion. Can you believe someone previewed this fight by stating that it could be “potentially exciting”? Actually, I stand by that. If mauling, head butting, throwing folk against/over ropes, hitting them with their backs turned etc. is your thing, you’ll be watching this for many a year.

Eloquence is considered a wonderful thing, but Jim Evans, Sprott’s manager proved it is overrated. His profound words to his charge, between rounds 10 and 11- “All these people have paid good money, and all you’ve given them is a load of f##king rubbish” is the incontestable truth.

The lack of conditioning, from both fighters was apparent. Both appeared to be out of gas, as early as the forth round. And it was hardly fast-paced up to then. Referee Micky Vann was easily the one who was doing the most work of the three of them in there. On 5 occasions he spoke to both fighters, asking them to pack it in with all the untidiness that was going on.

Skelton was the one who was clearly doing the better work. Sprott seemed lethargic from an early stage, and his contribution to what little action there was in there came in the way of pot shots, as opposed to the combinations Skelton at least tried to get off. By round seven, the crowd were seen dispersing. Those who remained started booing, slow hand-clapping, and chanting “what a load of Rubbish” from round 9 onwards.

The biggest cheer came in round ten. This was because Frank Bruno was shown on the big screen. A chant of “Bruno, Bruno” rang out, as the billed “world title eliminator” was still being contested.

Twelve rounds of simply dire action concluded. All that was left was what seemed to be the formality, of the announcement that Skelton had won widely. Yet Ian John Lewis, a normally competent official, somehow returned a drawn verdict. At first I felt he should be invited to the British boxing board to explain how on earth he had done this. However this would involve watching the fight again, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. The other two had Skelton winning, one close and one wide.

Anyone who didn’t watch this, and thinks I must be being harsh, has my assurance that I have the utmost respect for anyone who sets foot in the ring. Indeed, the fact remains that when those who attended look back, they will feel they got a great deal more for their money then they could have imagined, thanks to the efforts put in by mesrs Kahn, Limond, Cook and Luevano.

Article posted on 15.07.2007

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