UK Boxing: Esham Pickering; Ian Nappa; George Jupp

Esham Pickering claims that his best days in Boxing are yet to come and that will start with victory in Prizefighter Super-Bantamweights. Pickering is part of Barry Hearn’s latest eight-man, one night tournaments which takes place at York Hall, Bethnal Green, East London on Saturday May 29. The Nottinghamshire man has held European, British and Commonwealth belts but at 33 years-old he says that winning Prizefighter will help him claim more titles..

“This is everything to me, I’ll be doing my utmost to win Prizefighter and I really do believe I can,” said Pickering. “Outsiders looking into Boxing have been saying I’m finished and that I was finished back in 2005 – I haven’t been performing since 2004 really. I know that this is my redemption call though and I’m looking to lift the Prizefighter trophy and move on to win my British title outright which I need one more win to do that, then win my European title back, that’s what I’m looking to achieve and I know I can do it.

Wayne McCullough is the marquee name in the event but while Pickering regards the American-based Northern Irishman as a boxing great he is focused on the main prize rather than the former world champion.

“Wayne hasn’t been active for a while but he’s a force to be reckoned with, I don’t care that he’s 39 years old,” said Pickering. “He’s been a world champion and is a great ambassador for the sport so he’s got my utmost respect. Everyone is going to be up for it and with a big name like his in there it’s going to be such an exciting night – he’s a legend but I’m not really interested who I fight, I just want to fight and win Prizefighter.”

McCullough and Pickering will be the most familiar names on the bill, but Prizefighter has grown a reputation for offering hungry young fighters the chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage and the rest of the line-up will relish tackling either man.

Welshman Ricky Owen while Liverpool’s Mark Moran fought for the British title. Aberdeen-born Gavin Reid has fought for the Scottish title, Josh Wale of Barnsley has challenged for the English crown and Middlesbrough’s Chris Riley is a former England junior international.

With 43 fights to his name the Newark-based fighter is the most experienced fighter on the bill and he thinks that experience could be the key.

“Mark Moran has fought for a British title against Jason Booth and Josh Wale is a tough ask too – it’s going to be the best Prizefighter without a doubt. Three rounds might suit the lads who have just come out of the amateurs but when you do it three times in the night it’s a different story – especially without head guards and vests. So I expect my experience will come into play and I can box and fight too, and they’ll see that on the night. My best is yet to come in Boxing and this is my chance.”

Pickering expects to have a good following from Nottingham in the York Hall and watching live on Sky Sports, and his message is clear – the title and his future in the game is there for the taking.

“I’m going to give 100 per cent in every way on the night. I know I can box, I can fight and I’m strong. The fights I’m in will be exciting and entertaining. I’ve always been fit, lived a clean life and trained well, Prizefighter is my big opportunity and I’m going to grab it.”

Tickets for Prizefighter Super-Bantamweights are available now at £35 (unreserved), £60 (ringside) and £100 (VIP) – call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.

Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa: I’ll Beat Hall For British Title, Then I Want McDonnell

On the 4th June, former British and European Bantamweight Champion Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa returns to the ring for the first time since contentiously losing his British title to Jamie McDonnell back in January this year, to face Doncaster’s tough, unbeaten prospect Stuart Hall at the Peterlee Leisure Centre in Peterlee, Tyne and Wear.

Following a sparring session with Matthew Marsh at the Ultrachem TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, Napa took the time to talk a little about the upcoming bout, “I’m looking forward to the fight. My opponent’s Stuart Hall. He’s a good fighter, lots of aggression and determination. You know, I’ve faced these type of opponents before, they make for a good fight. My preparations are going well, I’m in good shape and I’ve just got to box well and get a result.

After this fight there is only one option for me, I don’t want to have to just keep defending the British title, I want to move back up. Getting a fight with Jamie McDonnell, or if he doesn’t defend the European title getting whoever has the European title at the time I’ll be looking to fight them. I want to get the European title back.”

32 year old Napa, whose impenetrable defensive style has been likened to that of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, seems to have been on the wrong side of dubious judging more than most. None, though, could come close to the outrageous score of 112-117, in favour of McDonnell, given by Dave Parris back on the 22nd January.

The first few rounds started slowly, with Napa using his superior defensive skills to neutralise McDonnell’s seven inch height advantage and considerable reach. No matter how hard he tried McDonnell just couldn’t land a clean punch.

Napa kept his cool under pressure before capitalising, when McDonnell’s desperation led him to making uncustomary mistakes, with overhand rights and vicious hooks to the body.

By round three McDonnell seemed to have run out of ideas and just stuck to the basics. Meanwhile Napa was winning the rounds easily by setting traps and skillfully working the body before moving upstairs.

Round five not only saw McDonnell cut by an accidental clash of heads but he also had a noticeable swelling of the right eye. McDonnell looked as if he had been in a war, whereas Napa had barely broken a sweat.

Napa seemed to be in full control of the fight, masterfully turning McDonnell’s ineffective aggression against him. When McDonnell came forward, in straight lines, throwing a barrage of shots, Napa would just duck and weave before letting rip with slick, telling, combinations of his own.

Boxing Scene’s Oli Smith best described this with the statement “He (Napa) hit without being hit. Ultimately he made McDonnell look inexperienced”

The sixth round went McDonnell’s way as Napa seemed content to soak up some pressure. That didn’t last though as Napa stepped things up a pace in the seventh by taking the fight to McDonnell and throwing serious power into his punches.

During the eighth and ninth rounds Napa, uncharacteristically took control of the centre of the ring and again was by far the more aggressive fighter.

McDonnell’s corner got him to up the pace in the eleventh to try and gain control, but again the telling shots all came from the diminutive Napa as McDonnell barely laid a glove on the slick moving Londoner.

The raucous crowd ringside were on the feet as both men upped their work rate still more for the final three minutes. When the final bell rings it is clear to all but the most fanatical of McDonnell supporters, that Napa had done more than enough to retain his British title as well as secure the vacant Commonwealth belt.

Or had he? When the score cards were read out they showed the judges had declared a split decision victory for McDonnell by 115-114, 114-115 and the ridiculous 117-112.

The boxing media were as mystified as Napa that the result had gone against him, as clearly were the BBBofC who reacted quickly by making Napa the mandatory challenger for the title.

Napa had hoped that would mean a rematch with McDonnell, but that was not to be. McDonnell vacated the British title in order to face, and beat, Jerome Arnould for the vacant European bantamweight title.

When asked for his thoughts on the dubious loss to Jamie McDonnell, Napa just shrugged his shoulders and said, “The response Boxing News had, you know letters, alone shows you what people thought of the fight and that I won it. But I’m not going to keep on and on about it. That’s in the past. I want to go forward and regain the European title like I done when I first got robbed for the British title, I got it back. I just keep doing this, proving myself over and over again.”

Napa’s long time manager/trainer Brian Lawrence, who had been sitting next to his supremely talented charge throughout, then added, “Things like the Jamie McDonnell result just doesn’t affect him, it just makes him more determined.

He hasn’t been out of the gym since the McDonnell fight. He’s in good shape. Stuart Hall is gonna know about it on the night. There’s no way he can win.

Straight away after we win I’m going to call for Jamie McDonnell to put it on the line. I’ll say If you really thought you won the fight and you are Champion then defend, don’t run away.

As I said, straight after the British fight we’ll be looking for the European and then we want a World title shot. So that’s what we will be looking for. If Jamie McDonnell is in our way then we’ll be going right through him. Basically he can hide or come and face Ian Napa to prove who is number one.”

Napa nodded in agreement before adding, “Yeah, I want to get on the World scene, but obviously I have to get back on the European title scene first. In order to progress back onto the European scene I’ve got to get the British title back. So that’s my main objective”

Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa versus Stuart Hall for the vacant BBBofC British Bantamweight title will headline the Frank Maloney promoted event at the Peterlee Leisure Centre in Peterlee, Tyne and Wear on Friday, 4th June.

The stacked under card includes a six round bout featuring Prizefighter - Cruiserweight II winner John Lewis Dickinson and Olympic medallist Tony Jeffries in a six round Super Middleweight contest.

Also on the card are bouts featuring Kirk Goodings (Lightweight ), Martin Ward (Featherweight), George Watson (Lightweight), David Fergurson (Heavyweight) and
Gary Fox (Welterweight).

For tickets to Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa vs Stuart Hall call 0871 226 1508 or go to

High Expectations For Debuting George Jupp At “Oakey’s Last Stand” On May 21st

This coming Friday 19 year old George Jupp will be taking his first tentative steps into the world of professional boxing, when he debuts against Peter Barney at the Bruce Baker and Ultrachem TKO Boxing Gym, co-promoted “Oakey’s Last Stand” event at the Mountbatten Leisure Centre, Portsmouth on the 21st May 2010.

Jupp, from Islington, North London, may not have had a particularly stellar amateur career, having only won around half of his 60 plus fights, but according to his highly experienced management and training team, Johnny Eames and Derek Grainger of London’s World famous fight factory - The Ultrachem TKO Gym in Canning Town - he has what it takes to have a good, if not great, professional career.

Eames and Grainger’s belief in the youngster is such that, at the tender age of sixteen, Jupp was asked to attend Matthew Marsh’s World title fight training camp in Tenerife. Whilst there Jupp proved beyond doubt that he could hold his own in such esteemed company.

Following his daily training session at the gym Jupp spoke of his upcoming debut. “I’m really looking forward to my pro debut. I did OK, not great, as an amateur. I had around sixty amateur bouts and won about half of them. I think those fights have taught me a lot.

I know the pro game is totally different to the amateurs, It’s like a totally different sport really, a lot of different training, different techniques and soaking up the professional knowledge and training from Del (Derek Grainger) Johnny (Johnny Eames).

You can’t learn from anyone better than Del and Johnny, they have so much experience. It also helps training here at the Ultrachem TKO gym as there’s always top class sparring. I’ve mean I’ve sparred with Akaash Bhatia and Matthew Marsh amongst others. All of that should help make the transition to pro easier. Mind you I think I’ll adapt really quickly as my style of boxing has probably been more suited for the pro game anyway.”

Eames, who guided Graham Earle and Kevin Lear to their World Championship successes, then added, “George came to us as a skinny scrawny little kid and over the three and a half years he’s been with us he’s developed into a man.

He had a mediocre amateur career, got to the London finals where he got beat by a very, very good London fighter who is now in the ABA finals. But I think George has got all the attributes to become a very, very good professional. We expect him to do really well this Friday.”

George Jupp Vs Peter Barney is on the undercard Tony ‘Oakey Kokey’ Oakey versus Michael Banbula for the British Masters Light Heavyweight title fight at the Ultrachem TKO Boxing Gym and Bruce Baker co-promoted “Oakey’s Last Stand” event at Mountbatten Leisure Centre, Portsmouth on the 21st May 2010.

The stacked undercard includes an intriguing Light Heavyweight contest featuring Jupp’s Ultrachem TKO gym mate, Peter ‘The Daddy’ Haymer against dangerous Portsmouth southpaw Paul Morby.

Another Ultrachem TKO Gym mate, Redhill, Surrey’s Daryl Setterfield faces unbeaten, in six outings, Wayne Goddard from Borden, Hampshire. Whilst at Super Middleweight, Newmarket, Suffolk’s Matt Jack has an equally tough opponent when he faces New Milton, Hampshire’s Danny ‘Dangerous’ Goode. Two further match-ups to be announced this week.

‘Oakey’s Last Stand’ will be on the 21st May 2010 at the Mountbatten Leisure Centre, Alexandra Park, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO2 9QA.

Tickets are available from:

Mountbatten Leisure Centre, Alexandra Park, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO2 9QA. - Tel: 023 9362 6500

Ultrachem TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA - Tel: 020 7474 3199

Article posted on 15.05.2010

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