Woolcombe Wins British Title In Wigan

Saturday night saw Gary Woolcombe win the vacant British light middleweight title to lead a massive four title fight Frank Maloney/Steve Wood shared promotion at the sold out Robin Park Centre in Wigan, England. Woolcombe, 25-1 (10), patiently applied educated pressure to southpaw Marcus Portman, 18-6-1 (3), as both men fought through the bout with cuts picked up in the first round. Portman attempted to catch the aggressive South London based 25 year old on the way in but was driven back time and time again by the wilfull Woolcombe..

While Portman enjoyed some success with sharp left hand counters, it was the bracing right hand, left hook combinations of Woolcombe that eventually wore down the West Midlands man. As Portman slowed, the action moved to the ropes where the combatants traded blistering body shots and short inside punches held off Woolcombe for a time but also drained Portman's energy even further during the middle rounds.

By the eighth frame, Woolcombe was battering Portman, who was deemed unable to continue due to cuts by referee Phil Edwards between the eighth and ninth rounds. With the victory, Woolcombe annexes the British title recently vacated by two time champion Jamie Moore and may face the highly seasoned face of boxing in the North of England in the near future.

Talented Commonwealth welterweight champion Ali Nuumbembe, 18-3-1 (6), of Glossop was unseated by one of Manchester's brightest prospects, the youthful but very rough and ready southpaw Craig Watson, 12-1 (4), who fought with the backing of a big and vocal supporting crowd.

It was a rugged fight from the first bell and Nuumbembe was soon cut above the left eye as Watson lunged from awkward angles to attack the champion and refused to let him get into a set offense. Nuumbembe rattled off sporadic machine-like combinations that stung Watson but was unable to put the challenger on the defensive.

When Nuumbembe did come forth, it was Watson who had the upper hand, making the native Namibian miss and punishing his foe with hard, clubbing counter shots that unsettled Nuumbembe. As the bout wore on, Watson began to target Nuumbembe's eye injury with a right jab that the champion couldn't see coming.

Nuumbembe's cut became much worse as a result, and with the possibility of a stoppage looming, the African desperately tore into Watson with every ounce of strength that he could muster on several occasions.

With astonishing ferocity, Nuumbembe shelled the 24 year old with bombs from both hands but somehow Watson managed to survive the vicious attempts to knock him out. Although he was clearly shaken by Nuumbembe's artillery display, Watson ensured that Nuumbembe had little rest when the champion eventually tired from sheer effort.

After failing to stop his antagonist, Nuumbembe was judged unable to continue in the ninth round due to the severity of his injury and Watson was declared the new Commonwealth welterweight champion, much to the delight of his dedicated fan base that took up an entire quarter of the venue.

The inaugural bout to determine the first recipient of the British super flyweight title was won by English flyweight titlist Chris Edwards, who overcame English bantamweight ruler Jamie McDonnel by split decision after 12 rounds of warfare.

This was a spiteful contest from the first punch as the far shorter Edwards, 11-12-3 (3), made up for his lack of stature by lunging at the less experienced McDonnel, 8-1-1 (2), at top speed. Initially, the searing pressure of Edwards put McDonnel at a loss until the Doncaster lad got the rhythm of the incoming artillery and began to pick off the older fighter.

But Edwards would not relent and the match turned into a back alley dogfight that saw both boxers take turns dishing it out but neither would submit to the will of the other. Time and time again, Stoke's Edwards would get caught on the way in with clattering left hand counters but he kept grafting away and painted Doncaster's McDonnel from the waist up with leather from both hands.

Edwards did The Potteries proud by maintaining an impressive workrate come hell or high water but was matched by his towering, rail thin competitor at almost every turn. McDonnel fought like a far more experienced operator and pushed Edwards to the brink on numerous occasions but couldn't catch his quick footed tormentor to finish the job.

It was a quarrel that seemed to have no end but after twelve smoking rounds, Edwards was awarded for his aggressiveness by a split decision victory, 116-113, 115-114 and 113-116.

Mobbed by his team in the ring afterward, Edwards became the first domestic super flyweight champion in Britain's history.

The final title fight of the evening saw Jason "2 Smooth" Booth, 28-5 (11), return to prominence with a hard fought ninth round stoppage over huge hearted Welshman Matthew Edmonds, 5-2 (1), to take the vacant Commonwealth bantamweight title.

The young Edmonds, with just six fights under his belt coming into the bout, was well over his head, but engaged with fiery competitiveness, pushing Booth hard for the entire length of the bout.

Beginning in the first round, Edmonds let Booth know it would be no easy day at the office when he nailed the older man with an attention getting straight right. Booth soon got the pacing of Edmonds' attack and began to employ the slick, counter style he was known for but, Edmonds was putting everything into his punches and when he landed, it shook Booth.

The battle raged back and forth over the first four rounds with Edmonds applying heavy pressure to head and body that troubled Booth at times but the wily former champion was countering with powerful left hooks that began to take the steam from the Newport man little by little.

By the fifth, Booth began countering with the right and walked his attacker into more than a few big shots but Edmonds raged on and attacked Booth's body with both hands. They traded big shots in the middle rounds, however by the eighth, Edmonds was into uncharted waters well past his previous six round excursions and the continued right hand counters of Booth began to seriously trouble.

The ninth sees Booth landing hard, damaging shots and Edmonds starts to lose focus but simply won't quit and battles back into the fight on several occasions but finally wobbles when Booth lands a massive counter left hook and referee Marcus McDonnell calls a halt to the action.

As a former British and Commonwealth flyweight and IBO super fly champ, Booth simply had too much skill and experience in the end, picking up the vacant Commonwealth bantamweight with the win.

On the undercard,

Bobby Rimmer trained Brian Rose, 7-0 (2), of Blackpool showed patience in fighting off a determined Shaun Farmer, 4-5 (0), dropping the Hartlepool man with a right behind the ear in the third before stopping Farmer with a well-timed counter shot out of nowhere in the fourth.

Lanky Derby based welter Scott Haywood, 15-2 (3), outpointed Carmarthen's Gavin Tait, 5-6 (3), in a hotly competitive and somewhat mean-spirited six rounder. The taller Haywood looked to keep Tait on the outside but would strike out at unexpected times with flashy, reaching shots that would catch Welshman unexpectedly. When Tait did get inside he worked Haywood well with both hands, using his strength advantage, but couldn't do enough to convince the referee.

Liverpool super bantam southpaw Mark Moran, 8-0-1 (2), impressively broke down Bulgaria's Iordan Vasilev, 2-5-0 (0), over three rounds, knocking down the Balkan import in the third before finishing the job with a spearing left hook to the body that ended matters.

Bolton middleweight Alex Mattvienko, 8-0-2 (2), remained undefeated but had his hands very full with the very tall and bigger late replacement Welshman, Jamie Ambler, 3-11-1 (2). Mattvienko went on the attack from the start but had trouble nullifying Ambler's own basic but effective offensive capabilities. The Bolton man's busier efforts won him the bout on points after four contentious rounds.

Dewsbury lightweight Gary Sykes, 7-0 (3), outpointed veteran campaigner Carl Allen, 18-61-7 (5), of Wolverhampton over six rounds. Sykes had trouble with Allen's right hand early on but by the last two frames, the prospect was giving Allen a severe body beating before taking the decision.

6 foot 1 inch teenaged light middle Jack Arnfield, 3-0 (2), of Blackpool outpointed Ben "Catweazle" Hudson, 7-35-1 (1), over four rounds. Arnfield towered over the 5 foot 6 inch Hudson and won every round by teeing off with both hands but was never able to seriously trouble the comedic Hudson, who kept ringsiders entertained with his running commentary throughout the bout.

Article posted on 09.12.2007

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