Ringside Report: Gianluca Di Caro, Photographs courtesy: Ali Campbell – The second event in the LET BATTLE COMMENCE ‘behind closed doors’ series, in association with PAPA JOHN’S PIZZA and NEON ENERGY DRINK, which was broadcast live on FITE TV, finally took place on Friday night at the the Northern Hotel in Aberdeen, after being forced to be rescheduled twice in August due to COVID-19 pandemic issues, the most recent due to Aberdeen being put back in lockdown just a few days before the event was due to take place on August 15th.
I’ve become quite used to watching sports without spectators the past few months, as have us all, but to actually be at a behind closed doors event feels so weird, there’s just no atmosphere, they seem so sterile, and that’s not just because everyone involved is wearing facemarks and surgical gloves etc.
However on Friday night my initial negativity at the lack of atmosphere soon evaporated, as the fights were nothing short of sensational, so much so that I often had to stop myself literally jumping to my feet and vocally supporting the warriors as they battled it out in the ring.
Anyway, enough of my waffling, let’s get onto the fights themselves.
The opening fight of the night see Teen Amateur Star Hollie Towl from Sheffield make her professional debut, against Shrewsbury’s Jaime Bates.
Those that know me are fully aware I am a huge fan of female boxing, but not many will know I’m also a fan of Jaime Bates.
I was lucky enough to be ringside when she beat Sophie Varley to lift the Professional Boxing Council (PBC) International Silver title in Lincoln last year, and I was also ringside when she stepped in at the last minute and fought former ten time Kickboxing World Champion Caitlin Foran in Aberdeen back in July, which she lost by a very close points decision, so I knew what to expect from her, performance wise, on Friday night.
What I didn’t expect to see though was a teenager as slick and controlled as the sensational Hollie Towl, wow what a class act.
As a side note I was a friend of, as well as an advisor for, Olympic Gold Medalist Luke Campbell during his amateur career and spent some highly enjoyable times at his training sessions with Terry Edwards at the TKO Gym in Canning Town during my stint as Managing Director, as well as sometimes at other gyms in London ahead of the Olympics in 2012.
Believe me Hollie is already at the level Luke was then, actually no, I’d say she is probably at a higher level, yeah she really is that good.
I was in seventh heaven watching these sensational talents in action against each other, it was like a symphony of the pugilistic arts to a level that is rarely seen, they both boxed supremely, their different styles perfectly complementing the others.
Towl though is another level, I would never try and deny her the much deserved plaudits of winning her first pro contest, to the same degree I have to praise Bates for the way she fought, she could have tried to ruin Towl’s flow by holding or even gone on a walkabout but she didn’t, she endeavoured to give as good as she got throughout.
The fifth round was such a disappointment though, not the fight itself but the way it ended.
Around the halfway mark of the round there was a horrible clash of heads that opened up a nasty cut over Bates’ left eye, it appeared so bad that Bates’ coach Giles Carter didn’t hesitate and immediately threw the towel in to the ring, leaving referee Graeme Beauly no option but to stop the contest on the one minute and thirty two seconds mark of the fifth stanza.
That was one seriously great fight, even though it was the first fight I was convinced that it would be the Fight of the Night and Hollie would be declared Fighter of the Night, however as it turns out I was wrong, that was just the opening shot on a night of unbelievably exciting pugilistic action.
The second fight on the card pitted Aberdeen’s Samer Carol, who was stepping up to the pro ranks for the first time, against Towl’s Xbox team mate Ben Gore, who was also making his professional debut.
Whilst not quite an all action thriller like the opening fight, it was without doubt a very good fight to watch, as it was more like a pugilistic chess match.
Gore’s game plan, of hanging out a straight arm jab, forced Carol to constantly adapt his game plan, as each time the local lad tried to work his way around the arm and get inside and let rip he would open up a gap for Gore to take advantage off and land a shot or two of his own.
It wouldn’t be until the third round that Carol finally had sussed out a route through and enjoyed some real success, in doing so forced Gore to change tactics and go toe-to-toe.
Gore adapted his original game plan slightly in the fourth and once again made life really hard for Carol, as once more he had to constantly change his approach in order to achieve any success.
After four intriguing, yet highly enjoyable, rounds Referee Graeme Beauly’s scorecard read 39-37 in favour of Ben Gore.
The next fight, a Heavyweight contest that also pitted debutant against debutant, see Aberdeen’s Craig Dick take on Essex hard man Michael Bassett.
I will say right away I have never really been a big fan of the Heavyweights, I prefer all action fights and it is so rare to see them when the big boys come out to play.
Well this particular fight has definitely changed my view of the division, it was awesome, I couldn’t look away, not even for a second, it was an exhilarating ALL ACTION affair from start to finish.
From the opening bell both lads went in hard and fast, the initial close quarters exchanges were phenomenal, huge shots flying in from both with seemingly little regard to defence, but as the round progressed the action slowed a little, Dick began to land some cracking shots, Bassett would respond immediately with a big right, some of which landed but most just leaving the Essex man open to receive a solid jab or a big right.
As the fight progressed Bassett appeared to become increasingly frustrated, leading to him changing his game plan ever so slightly and focus on letting rip with huge overhand rights, have to say probably could have been a very good plan, because if one had landed flush without doubt the local man would have made a visit to the canvas, however Dick is savvy and listened to his coach Lee McAllister’s instruction and kept his cool and didn’t let the fight develop into a brawl, which would have suited Bassett for sure.
What a fight, both protagonists constantly letting rip with huge shots, I have to admit I was surprised that it went the distance, I was expecting a knockout finish as both protagonists landed some seriously powerful shots, these lads must be made of granite!
After four sensational, and I mean sensational, rounds Referee Graeme Beauly’s scorecard read 40-36 in favour of Aberdeen’s Craig Dick.
I cannot argue Dick won the fight, but believe me it could have easily have been Michael Bassett, who I can’t wait to watch in action again, boy oh boy he’s such an exciting fighter.
Now I said earlier I was convinced that Towl versus Bates would be Fight of the Night, well I was wrong, and it shocks me that I am writing that a Heavyweight contest could or would be as exciting to watch as Craig Dick versus Michael Bassett was, this fight really does deserve the accolade of Fight of the Night, what’s more that wasn’t just my view (for what that’s worth) but also that of Boxing TV’s very own Dan Hewitt who was commentating on the night.
The fourth fight of the night see another teenage World Class Amateur, Worksop’s Ellie Coulson, making her professional debut.
On Friday night Coulson, the Amateur English Champion, faced Shrewsbury’s Beccy Ferguson, who also was making her pro debut. Ferguson’s route to the professional ranks couldn’t be any more different to that of Coulson if you tried, as the bubbly redhead honed her craft in the unlicensed ranks.
They may have progressed to the pro ranks from very different disciplines but on Friday the two warriors shared the same ring and went into battle right from the opening bell.
Initially Coulson controlled the proceedings with ease, utilising her height and reach advantage to keep the ever forward moving Ferguson at bay, however Ferguson soon started to exert some pressure of her own, even though it meant often having to take a few shots to get a shot off of her own.
Round two was much the same as the first, with Coulson dominating much of the round, please don’t get me wrong Ferguson took advantage of any inkling of a chink in Coulson’s armour she could find to land some cracking shots of her own, unfortunately for Ferguson, the youngster doesn’t seem to have many at all.
Ferguson had a little more success in the third, at times literally walking through shots to back Coulson towards the ropes and letting rip with both hands, Coulson though has sensational ringcraft, which prevented Ferguson getting too much time on the attack.
Coulson’s movement was nothing short of sensational, each time Ferguson came in she would throw out a solid jab, then as she stepped around her opponent would let rip with another shot or combination before Ferguson could reposition – sorry you need to watch the fight, I really cannot adequately describe the exquisite move, but will say it was class, seriously class.
The excellent round was virtually replicated in the following rounds, although the opportunities for Ferguson began to become fewer and fewer as the fight progressed, but when those opportunities arose the gutsy Ferguson went for it hammer and tongs right up to the point Coulson decided to spin out and let rip with a jab or combination.
After six highly entertaining all action rounds it was time for Referee Graeme Beauly scorecards to be announced, which was 60-54 in favour of Ellie Coulson.
I have to commend Beccy Ferguson, she really put on a great performance, which would under most circumstances lead to her hand being raised in victory, however she faced without doubt one of the best young boxers in the country, Ellie Coulson, oh and whose absolutely sensational performance rightly earned her the accolade of Fighter of the Night.
The fifth fight of the night pitted Denny’s unbeaten prospect Kevin Traynor in action against Nicaragua’s Johnson Tellez. If you watched the first LET BATTLE COMMENCE, you’ll know just how tough Tellez is as he went the distance against another unbeaten prospect, Lewis Mulberry, back in July.
What a cracking fight, to be honest it was almost a repeat of the storming Dick-Bassett Heavyweight Battle Royale in miniture, as both fighters went to war for four scintillating rounds.
Traynor is a classy operator, naturally slick and stylish, but willing to get down and dirty in a toe-to-toe brawl when needed, and on Friday he needed to dig deep into his well stocked locker, as Tellez never stops coming forward and loves a good scrap.
Have to say if there was a Round of the Night award, Traynor-Tellez would have won that hands down for the second round, wow what a round, neither warrior would concede a centimetre let alone an inch, it was a truly enjoyable experience watching these two really dig in and go for it, personally I couldn’t split them and having seen the scorecards know that Referee Graeme Beauly had the same problem as he scored the round a draw, whilst talking scores, Graeme Beauly’s full scorecard was 40-37 in favour of Kevin Traynor.
All rounds were fantastic all actions affairs but round two stands out as something really special, like I said about Dick-Bassett, you just couldn’t look away for a singe second, it was that enthralling.
OK, now were onto the fight I was really waiting for, Worksop’s Professional Boxing Council (PBC) International Silver Champion Nicola Hopewell versus York’s Tasha Boyes.
I’ve been particularly looking forward to this contest since hearing about Tasha Boyes performance against Maria Cecchi in Italy a few weeks ago, which had earned high praise from the Italian media and I know just how good Nicola is, as was lucky enough to be ringside when she beat Ghana’s Anita Addy to lift the PBC crown back on March 7th.
This fight had all the makings of being a classic, and the way it started out it surely would have been, Hopewell came out hard and fast and let rip with fast double handed combinations, which coincidently is how I had anticipated Boyes would approach things!
Boyes is as savvy as they come and soon began to use her height and reach advantage to get back in contention, but Hopewell’s magnificent ringcraft and oodles of talent soon put an end to that and as the round was heading to its conclusion backed Boyes up and began letting rip with a barrage of shots, somehow Boyes managed to find a way out but only a temporary respite as Hopewell went in for the kill and let rip once more to send Boyes to the canvas.
Boyes must have landed awkwardly on her arm and aggravated the training injury she sustained in the week, as when she rose to her feet she was holding her arm and clearly in a lot of pain, her coach Giles Carter was so concerned he summoned Referee Graeme Beauly and retired her in the corner at the end of the round.
Have to admit that was a disappointing end to the highly anticipated contest, but there is some good news for Boyes as Hopewell has agreed to a rematch, I for one am really looking forward to that.
The headline fight pitted Professional Boxing Council (PBC) and World Boxing Union (WBU) International Champion Nathan Beattie (10-4-0) from Aberdeen against Nicaraguan Prospect Julio Bendana (6-2-0) in a non-championship six rounder.
Right from the off these two warriors went to war, Beattie getting the upper hand in the first stanza due mainly to his superior ringcraft and crisper shots. Cracking round.
Bendana secured the second round with a knockdown, that came at the right time for the Nicaraguan, as Beattie was really beginning to get into a flow, don’t get me wrong it was close at that point but Beattie was beginning to take control. Beattie didn’t seem quite the same after the knockdown, as was clear right from the start of the third.
Bendana went straight on the attack looking to carry on from where he finished the second, Beattie fought back but was clearly not right, then Bendana let rip with another huge shot to send Beattie down again, immediately his coach Lee Mcallister signalled referee Graeme Beauly and threw in the towel on the 32 second mark of the third round.
At the post fight interview with Boxing TV’s Dan Hewitt and PBC Champion Paul Peers who was co-commentator, Beattie said that he believes he had burst an eardrum in the fight, which had affected his balance.
What a fantastic event and I for one am looking forward to next instalment of LET BATTLE COMMENCE, which if all goes well and no other pandemic issues is scheduled to take place on the 19th September and like LET BATTLE COMMENCE II will be broadcast worldwide live on FITE TV and delayed broadcast in the UK seven days later on Sports Channel Network (Freeview/YouView Channel 265)