Usually it is either a Friday or Saturday night that I get my regular fix of pugilistic action, this week though it was a little different as I made the trip from London up to Leeds on Sunday morning, in order to catch the latest offering from former Irish Champion, turned promoter, Lee Murtagh.
Considering it was a Sunday afternoon/eveing show I was mightily surprised, or is that impressed, that when I arrived at the venue, a good couple of hours before the advertised start time, it was already more or less full to capacity.
Have to say the Leeds fans really know how to enjoy themselves, the atmosphere at the Pryzm Nightclub was electric, so no surprise that when the highly entertaining MC, Mr. Tony Dean, announced each of the boxers that the crowd vociferously showed their support, not just of the home fighters but they also made the opponents welcome too, which makes a nice change.
Headlining the show was local favourite Sam Smith, who was making her pro debut, against Latvia’s Jekaterina Lecko.
From the off both girls moved to take centre ring, tentatively boxing off the back of their jabs, after about twenty seconds or so Lecko decided to step it up a tad, throwing a good stiff jab immediately followed by a looping right to the head, Smith closed her guard just enough to catch the shot on her glove, before shooting out a straight right, which caught the Latvian flush.
Smith closed in again and let rip with a big right to the body and a left to the head, Fecko tried to stand her ground but Smith came in even stronger forcing the Latvian back towards the ropes.
Initially Fecko used her jab to great effect to keep Smith at bay, but around the forty five second mark Smith slipped under the jab and let rip with a huge shot to the body, quickly followed by another to the head that shook the Latvian girl to the core.
Smith moved straight in for the kill, throwing a multitude of big shots, leaving Fecko no option but to cover up in the hope that she could survive the onslaught.
Smith had now corralled the Latvian into the corner and began bombarding Fecko with shots from every conceivable angle, then just as Fecko straightened up Smith landed an absolute peach of a shot to the body that sent Fecko straight to the canvas.
As referee Jimmy Byrne made the count Fecko looked towards her corner and shook her head before desperately trying to make it to her feet, however clearly in distress she instantly dropped back down onto one knee, leaving Jimmy Byrne no option but to call a halt to proceedings on the seventy second mark of the first round.
Prior to Smith-Fecko Lincoln’s unbeaten big punching Middleweight Nathan Decastro, against Latvia’s Elvis Rozembergs, in a six rounder.
Decastro’s ring moniker is ‘Nightmare’ and boy oh boy I bet young Mr. Rozembergs will be having plenty of them after this fight.
Decastro, a former English Amateur International, is about as clinical as they come. Right from the off the Lincolnshire lad picked his shots with precision, landing three pin-point perfect shots just with his opening salvo.
Rozembergs is game though, clearly believing that attack is the best form of defense the Latvian came straight back with a series of off target looping right hands, each time presenting Decastro with a clear target – Rozembergs body – to set his sights on, which of course he did, landing seriously solid shots each time.
On about the minute mark Rozembergs tried to back Decastro up by coming in hard and fast with a double handed flurry, however Decastro side stepped before letting rip with a big right to the body, which sent Rozembourgs to the canvas.
The Latvian was clearly in distress, instantly referee Jimmy Byrne stopped the fight and called the ringside doctor and paramedics into the ring.
After a few minutes Rozembergs was helped to his feet and as he did received rapturous applause from the appreciative audience.
Prior to Decastro-Rozembergs was another pro debut, this time Middlesborough Welterweight Chris Wood, against Edgars Milevics.
Milevics didn’t fair any better than either Lecko or Rozembergs, in fact the Latvian lad was sent to the deck in the first twenty seconds, following Wood pitching a big right into his ribs.
Milevics made the count, but on the restart you could see his heart was no longer in the fight, electing instead to cover up in the vein hope that Wood wouldn’t land another big shot.
On about the fifty second mark the inevitable happened, Wood sneaked a lovely little hook in just behind Milevics guard, causing the Latvian to bring his hands down to protect his body, which left him open to a big right to the head, which left Milevics no option but to cover up again and as he did Wood calmly threw another big left to the body, which sent Milevic down to the canvas for the second time.
Milevic just about managed to make it to his feet but referee Jimmy Byrne took one look and see how unsteady the Latvian was on his feet and rightly stopped the fight on the sixty seconds mark.
Support for the three professional bouts, were a number of European Boxing Federation (EBF) sanctioned bouts.
The main one, for the EBF International Bantamweight Championship, see Leeds’ Sophie Varley in a rematch against Malta’s Mandy Cortis.
Cortis had come all the way from sunny Malta to a rather wet and Windy Leeds to defend the title she won last time the two met.
The first three rounds Cortis played the waiting game, hoping that all action girl Varley would punch herself out.
Round four was a much more even affair, with Cortis electing to take the fight to Varley, initially the Maltese girl was landing a good few shots, but Varley is as tough as they come and by about the fifty second mark wrenched control back with a fantastic display of boxing, culminating with Cortis backed onto the ropes and absorbing a seemingly never ending barrage.
About the one minute thirty mark it was Cortis on attack again, utilizing her jab to great effect to set Varley up for a combination or two, until the final ten seconds or so, which was a pure toe to toe Battle Royale.
Cortis controlled the majority of the final two rounds, with some beautiful boxing, Varley still gave a great account of herself, just the amount of work she had put in during the early rounds had virtually drained her.
It was clear it was going to be close, and it was with Varley securing the title by a very, very close 58-57 points decision.
The results of the rest of the EBF card were:
York’s Carly McKenzie scored an excellent 40-37 points victory over Bridlington’s Mel Halstead for the EBF Central Area Featherweight title.
Leeds’s Graham Mattison scored a one minute and fifty second second round TKO victory over Balckpools Richard Leak in the EBF Northern Heavyweight contest.
Leeds’ Jay Stevenson scored a 30-28 points victory over Stoke’s Phil McGinn.
Leeds’ Liam Hayes scored a 40-37 points victory over Stoke’s Lewis Sherrat
Manchester’s Jimmy Gold scored a close 29-28 victory over Bramley’s Philip Walker.