Last Friday night Johnny Eames and the TRAD TKO Events crew presented their latest installment – aptly named BROTHERS IN ARMS – and too be honest it was even better than their previous ones, which I, as well as I am sure anyone that attended the first two shows, would not have thought possible.
As before matchmaker Jon Pegg ensured a night of exciting and evenly matched bouts, much to the delight of the assembled fans, perhaps not so much for Johnny Eames – the reason, well that will become clear, dramatic events of the night unfold, in the following report.
Besides the ‘in the ring’ action and drama there was also a highly charged element of suspense and intrigue surrounding the final fight of the evening, which ultimately led to the Shiya Ozgul versus Chris Jenkinson bout being sanctioned by the Malta Boxing Commission and not the British Boxing Board of Control, who sanctioned the rest of the card
Rather than go into the politics that led to this highly unorthodox scenario now, as there will be a statement issued later this week, let’s get onto the fight report.
Top of the bill see Aylesbury’s Nathan ‘De Lick’ Graham defending his Southern Area Light Middleweight title, against Canning Town, and TRAD TKO’s, own Freddie Turner.
With both sets of opposing fans melodically chanting their mans name the opening bell rang, Graham started fast, going straight on the attack letting rip with big searching right hands, Turner kept his calm, slipping the barrage of exocets systematically fired by the Aylesbury man, before releasing crisp countering shot to Graham’s body.
The blistering pace of the first round caused both protagonists to miss on or catch the opposing man’s gloves numerous occasions, however both managed to achieve some great success, Graham theatrically landed a few cracking big scoring hooks, whilst Turner’s methodically countering shots to Graham’s ribs were sublime in their execution.
It was a cracking opener, to my view not really an easy round to score – mainly due to the significant differences in style, Graham with his full attacks and the subtle countering body shots from Turner.
The following couple of rounds more or less followed the same pattern, although it should be noted Turner started to land more significant noticeable shots.
However the fourth was a much easier round to score, Graham slowed the pace significantly, which in turn enable Turner to pick off the Champ with simply exquisite left hooks each time Graham dropped the newly adopted high guard.
On the opening bell for the fifth stanza Graham went straight on the attack again, catching Turner with a couple of cracking hooks. After that though it was once again Turner that wrestled back control, catching the ever forward coming Graham each and every time he went to let a shot go.
The sixth and seventh rounds see Turner more or less control the proceedings, now saying that it really doesn’t do the action, or either fighter’s performance, justice, Graham was constantly coming forward aggressively letting rip with both barrels, just he was not getting the level of success he had done in the earlier rounds, on the other hand Turner was happily digging deep into his overflowing arsenal of impressive countering shots to both body and head.
The difference between the two fighters in the eighth was clear, Graham looked weary whilst Turner was oozing confidence in abundance, forget the visual aspects, action wise it was even clearer.
Graham barely landed a meaningful shot to counter the effervescent big scoring attacks from Turner, as if to make the point late on, Turner sent Graham to the deck with a peach of an overhand right, Graham made it to his feet on seven, but was looking distressed, as if he knew his title had slipped away from his grasp.
However, I’m sure if he knew how the ninth stanza was going to pan out he may have been slightly less worried.
What can I say it was a surprisingly reinvigorated Graham that came out hard and fast as the bell rang for the penultimate round, the high tempo attacks made Turner take a more defensive stance, as Graham peppered him with double handed close range attacks, forcing Turner back onto the ropes before letting rip with a massive left to send the East Londoner to the deck.
Turner made it up on six, but looked seriously shaken and unsteady on his feet, but before Graham could continue the assault, Turner’s gumshield, which had flown out of the ring, needed to be found. The long delay, in finding the errant gumshield, gave Turner time to get his head together, so when the bout restarted he was able to duck and weave his way under and around the non-stop barrage of punches from Graham to see out the round.
Both warriors came out for the final stanza prepared for all out war and boy did they both give their all. It was three minutes of scintillating back and forth action, which had the entire York Hall faithful on their feet until the final bell rang.
What a fight, it was truly a classic and winner of my fight of night accolade, as well as surely THE front runner of ‘Fight of the Year’.
There was a real buzz of anticipation as everyone waited for the scores to be read out, not just by the opposing fighters camps and their fans, who both believed their man had won, but also within the assembled scribes, who were also split along similar lines.
When the score was read out, as a very close 94-93 in favour of Canning Town’s Freddie Turner, there was a level of disbelief from all sides, those from Graham’s camp thought their man had done enough to retain his crown, whilst Turner’s entourage felt their man had it by a much wider margin, I count myself in the later category as I had Freddie Turner winning by four rounds.
Side Note: Freddie Turner’s arm popped out of the socket in the third round, after some nifty work by his corner he partially regained use until the seventh, when it popped out again.
Following a short break, so that the Malta Boxing Commission officials could replace those of the British Boxing Board of Control, former Turkish amateur star Shiya Ozgul prepared for his second bout this month, against Bolton’s Chris Jenkinson.
Whilst the vast majority of the spectators, and surprisingly virtually all the attending British media, left straight after the exceptional headline bout, around a hundred and fifty highly vocal fans, Tracy Lee from the Daily Sport, Turkish TV crew and myself, remained for what turned out to be yet another all action bout.
Right from the off Ozgul shot across the ring to let rip with a big overhand right, the savvy Jenkinson slipped and countered in one. Ozgul kept the pressure up throughout the round, with Jenkinson stylishly countering. Late in the round the Bolton man switched tactics, by instigating a full on attack of his own, forcing the Turkish teenager to cover up and absorb a number of shots.
More of the same in both the second and third rounds, with Ozgul energetically attacking and Jenkinson showing his mettle by taking some big shots in order to counter close up with short sharp shots to body and head.
After three rounds surprisingly it was hard to split the pair, I had Ozgul just about win the first, but just couldn’t split them on the other two.
Ozgul clearly thought the same and came out for the final stanza like a raging bull, initially overpowering Jenkinson, but not for long as the Bolton man took a step back and countered strongly before going toe-to-toe with the young Turk, the action continued non-stop until the final bell, after which the remaining crowd showed their appreciation to both boxers, for their totally committed non-stop action, with a highly vocal standing ovation.
The decibel level from the partisan Turkish contingent went up significantly when referee Billy Phillips’ score was read out, as it showed a close 39-37 points victory for Shiya Ozgul. I can’t argue too much with the decision, I scored it a draw, but as the middle rounds were very close they could easily have been scored in either mans favour.
Prior to the aforementioned title fight, TRAD TKO’s other unbeaten teenager, St Neots, Cambs’ Tommy ‘Da Gun’ Martin took on Ibrar Riyaz.
Young Martin came into this fight off the back of a truly sensational performance against Kristian Laight back in July. On Friday Martin turned in an almost equally perfect performance.
As in July Martin dominated the proceedings with some seriously classy ring craft, which enabled the nineteen year old to pick off the highly experienced Riyaz virtually at will, don’t get me wrong Riyaz put in a very good performance, just Martin was in a different class.
Throughout the first couple of rounds Riyaz often found his attacks being neutralised by the youngster, as Martin dance around him before letting rip with some seriously classy jabs and hooks.
Martin caught Riyaz with a couple of great shots early in the third, after which started to showboat a little, much to the chagrin of Riyaz.
Last round was more a less a repeat of the third, however Martin stopped the showboating after getting caught a couple of times and got back to business and secured a tidy 40-37 points victory.
Got to admit Tommy Martin really is developing into a classy crowd pleasing boxer, as I said earlier he was plain sensational against Kristian Laight, his performance on Friday was just as impressive, if not better, definitely one to watch is young Tommy.
Prior to the excellent Martin-Riyaz, former Irish amateur star Anthony Upton made his professional debut, against the highly entertaining forty eight fight veteran ‘Dirty’ Dan Carr.
Young Anto is one half of the Upton Clan, the other being Paul who also fought earlier in the show, who bought a massive, highly vocal, following to liven up the proceedings.
Anyway, back to the fight. Upton started well, working off a beautiful jab, as the round progressed the youngster’s confidence grew and he started to show flashes of the classy skills that enabled him win national and international accolades as an amateur, amongst them his supreme ability to pepper his opponent with lightning fast combinations to both body and head.
From the second round on Upton’s class really began to shine, his fluid movement and flowing combinations proved too much for Carr, who just went defensive at every opportunity.
After what can only be described as a boxing masterclass by Upton, it came as no surprise to anyone that the referee’s scorecard read a shutout 40-36 points victory for the Romford based youngster.
The fourth bout, of the night see former two time Lithuanian amateur Heavyweight champion, Paulius Kasilulevicius, back at York Hall for his third professional bout.
In his previous two outings Johnny Eames had ensured his young Heavyweight prospect received stern tests, tonight would be no different as across the ring stood the twenty one stone bulk of Sheffield’s Carl ‘The Fridge’ Baker.
No surprise that initially the bout started quite slowly, with Kasilulevicius feeling out Baker, who weighed in some five stone more than himself. Working off the jab Kasilulevicius tried to exert his authority, but barely had any effect against the pure bulk of the ever coming forward Baker.
Kasilulevicius tried his hardest to keep Baker at bay, but it was proving an uphill struggle for the Lithuanian. Baker had a little success, clipping Kasilulevicius a couple of times in the first couple of minutes, but his persistence really paid off as the round was coming to an end, after backing up Kasilulevicius, Baker let rip with a straight right to send the Lithuanian off balance and down onto the lower ropes.
Kasilulevicius made the count, but on rising was still very unsteady on his feet, which ultimately led to the referee calling a halt to the proceedings on the two minute and forty six second mark.
Prior to Kasilulevicius-Baker, fellow unbeaten TRAD TKO prospect, Walthamstow based Albanian Festim Lama, in a rematch with late replacement Trowbridge, Wiltshire’s Dan Blackwell.
The first couple of rounds were a virtual repeat of their previous encounter, with Lama dominating the proceedings, with his trademark, highly aggressive ever forward moving style.
However early on in third things were to change – early, as Blackwell see an opening and went for it, landing a vicious left hook that wobbled the Albanian, in an instant Lama returned fire, with a salvo of equally vicious shots, but in doing so left himself open for another big left from the Trowbridge man, which sent Lama to the deck.
Lama made the count easily, but was still clearly dazed and unsteady on his feet, leaving the referee no option but to stop the fight on the fifty second mark of the third round.
The second fight of the night see Paul Upton, brother of Anthony, make his second pro outing under the TRAD TKO banner, against Norwich’s Duane ‘Mad Dog’ Green.
Back in July Paul put on a scintillating performance, on way to a shut out victory over Birmingham’s Dee Mitchell.
As the Romford based youngster made his ring entrance, lead by an uncle dressed as a leprechaun, a cacophony of cheers, whistles and drums filled the famous old venue and continued throughout the sensational bout.
Right from the off Upton took control of centre ring, much to the delight of his highly vocal followers, round after round the youngster kept up a high tempo, picking off Green at will.
The only modicum of success for Green came in the final stanza, when he landed a solid right hook, other than that it was Upton all the way.
Earlier I described Anthony Upton’s performance as a master class, which it was, but Paul’s performance was another level altogether and believe me he genuinely deserved the shutout 40-36 points victory, his performance was nothing short of magnificent.
The opening fight of the night featured the professional debut of Basildon Super Bantamweight Joe Stevens, against the highly experienced Anwar Alfadli.
It proved to be a baptism of fire for the youngster, even though he started quite well Alfadli proved way too strong and experienced, as was proved early in the first round when Alfadli sent Stevens to the canvas.
Unfortunately Stevens rushed things, in an attempt to make up for two point deduction, and it was not until the third that the youngster settled down and relied on his excellent boxing skills, in doing so I felt he had outboxed the more experienced Alfadli enough to secure the third and fourth, and with the second being a very close round maybe enough to have secured a draw, however the man that counts, the referee, thought differently awarding Alfadli the win by a 39-36 points margin.
Phew, what a night, the esteemed Mr. Eames and his team really do know how to put on the type of show that the fans want, true 50/50 all action fights.
You may recall at the beginning I said that matchmaker Jon Pegg ensured close evenly matched bouts, I think the fact that TRAD TKO’s house fighters Kasilulevicius, Lama and Stevens all suffering defeats proves that point.
Roll on the next Johnny Eames promoted event, his shows are a breath of fresh air.