Skelton TKOs Krence, Khan Destroys Bailey

17.07.05 - By William Peden: A compound of two unexpected first round knockouts, a sudden pull-out and a bomb scare completed a very strange return for boxing to British terrestrial TV. Frank Warren, making the popular move of taking his promotions from Sky TV to ITV (Channel 3) put on a spectacular show, sadly marred by an evacuation due to a code red fire or bomb alert.

As for the boxing itself, the coverage began with the British Heavyweight Title being contested between Matt Skelton and Mark Krence. Skelton, 37 and 17-0-0, has turned from being a lowly-regarded object of fun to one of Britain's top fighters, and continued his undefeated streak against Mark Krence, 28, now 21-3-0. The fight was taken by Krence at 20 hours notice after Danny Williams withdrew in the morning, citing a bad cold. Mark Krence is probably best known for taking Audley Harrison the distance back in 2002, and has an impressive victory under his belt against John McDermott..

Skelton's huge weight advantage (254 to 218 lbs) allowed him to bully Krence around the ring with little difficulty, whilst his constant pressure and thumping punches eventually broke the game Krence down. Skelton dominated from the outset, and while Krence had his moments he could not contain Skelton's constant thumping punches. Skelton's brawling swarmer style better suited to the classical boxing Mark Krence than to Danny Williams, and on my score card he won six out of the seven rounds. Krence showed hand speed, but his lack of power proved to be decisive, as he could not keep Skelton at a distance. This was particularly apparent in that almost every round started with Krence landing good combinations and straight right hands, but Skelton somehow marching his opponent down and taking the round. Stamina proved to be the deciding factor in the fight, as Krence had to pace himself due to a severe lack of training. The fight came to an end with Skelton landing a hard punch to the ribs, possibly Krence's bones, and the corner wisely calling off the fight as Krence collapsed, breathing heavily.

Michael Jennings stood off against the tough veteran Jimmy Vincent for the vacant British Welterweight title. Vincent, who lost a very controversial decision two years ago for the same title, was completely outclassed by the young Jennings. A combination of sweet counter-punching and incisive right hands dazed Vincent early on, and Jennings (now 27 and 0) landed a peach of a left hook to cap out a devastating first round knockout. The question, of course, is how well Jennings will do when he steps up in class to the European level.

Body-punching fans were well served in the five round war between Stephen Foster and Jim Betts. Foster is another young British prospect, who has won all of his 19 fights, and this year won the WBU featherweight title- not that he will be bragging about that- and tonight gave an impressive performance, combining hard bodyshots with right uppercuts to floor Betts three times. Betts, an unknown journeyman, shocked everyone by consistently holding his own with Foster, and despite repeated knockdowns rising time after time to come back with flurries of punches, even doubling over Foster with a hard bodyshot. However, Foster proved to be too relentless for the brave Betts, and the fight was stopped between rounds.

The main event, of course, was Amir Khan VS David Bailey. Khan, who needs no introduction, made the transfer from amateur to professional seem as easy as he made Mario Kindelan. Despite rumours of a stylistic change, Khan continued in the boxer-puncher style, adapting to his opponent. Seeking to perhaps shock the 18 year old Khan, David Bailey came out throwing punches in bunches. However, Khan kept his composure, moving away before planting his feet and unleashing a devastating combination that dropped Bailey, who earns a living as a car-mechanic. Bailey rose, but was quickly dropped again with a combination, and the referee Phil Edwards failed to notice the towel coming in from Bailey's corner, allowing the contest to proceed. Khan continued to punish Bailey, before connecting with a devastating straight right hand that staggered Bailey, and finally Phil Edwards called a halt to the contest.

Khan, who was expected to have a harder time against the tough southpaw, proved his punches are twice as effective when there isn't headgear to protect his opponents, and showed a surprising understanding of the pro-game, using body punches, straight punches and a hard left hook to overcome his opponent. Complaints, of course, have to be given for his low-hands and high chin, but this seems to be more a consequence of nerves rather than a movement to Ali-esque unorthodoxy.

As a Scotsman I'm not a huge British patriot by nature, but even I felt something as Land Of Hope And Glory played as Khan entered, and he walked to the ring accompanied by the Union Jack with "London" written in the centre- a fitting tribute to the victims of the London bomb attacks earlier in the month. The camera lay just momentarily on a touching fan-banner, with the Islamic sign of the stars and crescent accompanied by "No Terrorism", an example of the British Muslim communities fervent condemnation of terrorism as a means of protest. How ironic, after such a patriotic display, that a bomb threat would ruin what should have been a stiff upper lip (and a stiff middle finger) to terrorism. Boxing's return to ITV proved to be a far more historic occasion that anyone could have possibly expected.

Article posted on 17.07.2005

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