Ovill McKenzie retained his British and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles with a majority point’s decision over Matty Askin this evening at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.
‘The Upsetter’ defied the odds once more to come on strong from the 6th round to turn the tide on the challenger who had built up a substantial lead through the first 5 sessions – certainly in my opinion at least.
Askin started the better, controlling the 1st round with sharp movement to keep the stalking McKenzie off balance, popping a stiff left jab catching his static looking foe.
The 2nd round saw much of the same from the mobile Askin, who began to let his long right hand go to good effect, with his opponent plodding predictably and finding it difficult to get off.
The Blackpool native looked comfortable and asserted his dominance further through the 3rd and 4th rounds. His tactics clear, slick movement to frustrate the Jamaican and tie him up close and punish, as he grows impatient and it worked a treat, until the fight became messy.
By the 5th round, Askin’s holding was more frequent and obvious as he tried to tie up the wild champion, who was deducted a point for persistent punching behind the head to award a 10-8 round to Askin who looked in complete control.
The 6th round marked McKenzie’s first success and represented a turning of the tide. Askin was rocked by a solid right hand and responded in kind. But, it was McKenzie who made the impression, with the challenger holding tight as the round drew to a close.
By the 7th stanza Marcus McDonnell had, had enough and deducted a point for the challengers holding. Askin would continue to land the cleaner shots throughout a round he would be forced to share.
McKenzie buoyed by the points deduction upped his work rate significantly through the 8th, having success with hard hooks off either side forcing his opponent to hold once more in an attempt to stem the tide. Referee McDonnell was in no mood to accommodate and deducted another point from Askin, who argued post fight that he was not being allowed to work inside.
Askin looked desperately tired moving into the competitive 9th round, which saw him land the cleaner punches and take what would be the last of his successful rounds on my card.
Against all odds and form Ovill McKenzie looked the fresher fighter going down the stretch and reaped the rewards through the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds, sinking clubbing hooks into the brave challenger throughout. The best of which seemed to have his opponent on rubber legs in the final round, but he was unable to turn the screw and the fight went to the cards.
What was billed as a fire fight, turned into an attritional war, marred by points deductions with neither fighter able to apply their game plan as effectively as they’d have liked.
How much this had to do with the 2 week fight delay is anyone’s guess.
The fight could have gone either way (I had it 113-112 to Askin), but it was Ovill McKenzie who received the nod to move to 24-12 (12KO’s) and retain his British and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles.
Official scorecards read; 113-114 Askin; 116-109 McKenzie; 115-111 McKenzie.
Askin moves to 17-3 (10KO’s) and returns to the drawing board, with his career far from over.
The Ovill train moves on to what he hopes will be the world stage.
My money would be on the rematch.