Ovill McKenzie Wins "Prize Fighter" The Cruiserweights In Great Night In London

by James Slater - Last night, at Earl's Court in London, promoter Barry Hearn's "Prizerfighter" tournament hit town and it was the turn of the cruiserweights. It's fair to say, last night's instalment of the series was the best yet, as the action flowed thick and fast for the better part of the three hours the fighting lasted..

Eight men began the evening, and one fighter finished up collecting the trophy and the 25,000 prize money. That man was 29-year-old Jamaican-born Derbyshire resident, Ovill "The Upsetter" McKenzie. And what a tough and talented man he proved to be last night!

Right from the beginning, the action was addictive and fan-friendly.

Here's a brief rundown of the opening bouts, right up to the grand finale:

In fight one, tournament favourite and former British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion Dean Francis of Hampshire proved to be far too classy for 38-year-old Neil Simpson of Coventry. The two had met before, way back in 1996, and back then Francis stopped Simpson in the 3rd round. We saw a repeat last night, as the heavily muscled 35-year-old forced the referee to dive in and save Simpson from taking any more at 38-seconds of the 3rd.

In fight two, the real fireworks began, as the heavy-handed pairing that was Bruce Scott and John "Buster" Keeton collided. Sheffield's Keeton turned 37 yesterday, while 39-year-old Scott of London by way of Jamaica was returning to the ring for the first time in over three years (Keeton was coming in after a 19 month absence).

Straight away, the two sluggers got down to business. Scott came out looking for the KO, but it was "Buster" who landed some noticeable hurt first. A right uppercut to the chin stunned Scott and a follow-up barrage and a shove sent the 39-year-old to the mat, where he received a count. The 2nd round saw Scott fire back in kind, as he dug in some power shots to Keeton's head and body. The action was savage and it was raw. It was also very entertaining.

More pure slugging continued in the 3rd and last round, and both men had given their all come the bell. Keeton prevailed, though, by scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-27. A concern for Keeton was the fact that he'd picked up a rapidly swelling left eye in the short war. He would have to take this injury into his next fight.

In fight three, another favourite in 40-year-old Terry Dunstan met eventual winner McKenzie. Having only his second fight in over ten long years! former British and European cruiserweight boss Dunstan found out firsthand how good the little-known McKenzie is. The Londoner, who got as far as challenging for the IBF world title back in his peak years, was sent reeling in the 2nd round by a right hand courtesy of "The Upsetter," and the upset did indeed look to be on.
Hurt again in the 3rd by a right hand, Dunstan, though he tried hard, knew he'd been beaten. The scores were a whopping 30-25, 28-27 and 29-28, all for McKenzie.

Fight number four saw Ireland's 36-year-old former Commonwealth cruiserweight champ Darren Corbett clash with the youngest fighter of the tournament, in 25-year-old Londoner Micky Steeds. Youth was not served. A nice right hand to the head by Corbett sent Steeds down in the opening round and Steeds was also hurt again in the round by the same punch.

The action continued in the next two rounds, with Steeds coming back into things. It wasn't enough, though, as the older man triumphed by scores of 29-26, 30-27 and 30-27 again.

Fight five saw the first semi-final of the night - Keeton Vs. Francis.

In a stunning upset, Keeton, who was having a great 37th birthday, stopped the favourite to win in the very first round! Clipped by a right hand as he pulled back, Francis was sent to the mat for the first knockdown. Badly hurt, the 35-year-old was soon put down again by a big right to the head and he was counted out. Keeton was the surprise winner after just 2 minutes and 35-seconds of the 1st round!

Fight six saw Corbett and McKenzie meet in the second semi-final. Yet another inside the distance win was in store for the fans.

The 1st round was messy, with lots of holding, but the 2nd round saw McKenzie score with a fast left-right- right combo upstairs to send Corbett down. Upon getting up another big right to the head hurt the man from Belfast. Then, with Corbett on the ropes and under pressure, the referee dived in as a final right hand crashed home for "The Upsetter." McKenzie was through to the final at 2 minutes and 33-seconds of the 2nd round.

The Final!

Two of the biggest outsiders coming in now met for the grand prize - Keeton and McKenzie.
His left eye looking worse now, Keeton was also tired. So was the eight year younger man, but McKenzie had slightly more left in the tank. Keeton tried in all three rounds, but McKenzie was faster, more versatile and busier. The eventual winner clearly took the opening round, while Keeton took the 2nd with sheer heart and guts. It would all come down to the 3rd and final round!

McKenzie pounded Keeton on the ropes and exerted a ton of pressure. "Buster" fired back as best he could, but it just looked like it was going to be the 29-year-old's night. It was so close, though, and both men chopped away with both hands, much to the appreciation of the big crowd.

In the end, McKenzie had done enough and he was awarded a 29-28, 29-28 30-27 win on the cards. This last score was way too wide, but the right man won.

All in all it was a great night last night - Full of upsets, knockdowns and value for money action, "Prize Fighter" The Cruiserweights was damned fine entertainment.

Look out for Ovill McKenzie's next fight!

(Final records: McKenzie is now 17-9(6). Keeton is now 28-17(18). Corbett is now 28-5-1(16). Steeds is now 12-5(3). Dunstan is now 20-3(12). Francis is now 31-4-1(25). Scott is now 27-10(18). Simpson is now 26-19-1(11).)

Article posted on 19.05.2009

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