By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro: Chris Goodwin versus Oisin Fagan, for the vacant World Boxing Federation Inter-Continental Lightweight title, was due to headline the Dave Murphy promoted ‘Thunder and Lightning’ event, that took place at the famous York Hall, in Bethnal Green, London, on Saturday night.
However, following Goodwin failing to make the championship weight of Friday, as well as an agreed catch weight on Saturday, the organisers were forced to cancel the Championship bout.
With Goodwin versus Fagan fight off, the headline status moved instead to eagerly awaited professional debut of European Silver and Commonwealth Boxing Championships Gold medalist Iain Weaver, against Poland’s Damian Lawniczak.
Weaver entered the arena with the largest entourage I have ever seen take part in a ring walk at York Hall, amongst the twenty strong team were Southern Area Champion Bradley Skeete as well as many of Weaver’s gym mates from Al Smith’s iGym.
Right from the opening bell Weaver determinedly stamped his authority on the fight, landing some superb sharp jabs and crisp lefts. Weaver’s amateur pedigree shined through, his movement and ring craft was nothing short of poetry in motion.
You couldn’t help but feel for Lawniczak, who responded whenever the opportunity arose – which wasn’t as often as I’m sure he would have liked. Each time the young Pole had any success, Weaver would respond in kind with double handed flurries, forcing Lawniczak to go back on the defensive.
Round two see Weaver step up the pressure, unloading a multitude of shots, to both body and head, from every conceivable angle possible. His seriously quick hands were virtually a blur as he unloaded a barrage of double handed shots.
About midway through the round, weaving changed tactics and started throwing hard right hand jabs, often followed with sharp left hooks to the body.
More of the same followed in the third, although the savvy Lawniczak used holding tactics a little more, to keep the barrage of shots reigning down on him to a minimum.
In the final stanza Weaver played to the crowd, keeping his distance to prevent the Pole from holding before stepping in and picking his shots and weaving to prevent any return shots from landing.
To describe Weaver’s performance as excellent is one of the understatements of the year, it was an awesome display from the Dorset youngster, as such it came as no surprise to anyone, when world class referee Micky Vann’s scorecard was read out, it showed a shutout 40-36 points win for young Weaver.
Main support see another professional debut, this time it was Marianne ‘Golden Girl’ Marston, the protégé of legendary Heavyweight Champion of the World Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Marston, who faced a late change of opponent in Hungarian Gabriella Roman, who stepped in after Aleksandra Jasjukevica pulled out just a few days previously, was intent on enjoying every single second of her well overdue professional debut.
On entering the arena Marston played to a legion of chanting fans, many wearing identical red BoxFit t-shirts to her own, each emblazoned with the legend ‘Team Golden Girl’ as well as sponsors TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, BoxFit, Optimax and Winkball, and more significantly a dedication to the memory of her legendary mentor Smokin’ Joe Frazier, before standing and shadow boxing to her ring walk track ‘Move’ by Thousand Foot Crutch.
About a minute into the track Marston slowly began her ring walk, bumping gloves with the many admirers that lined the route.
Soaking up every moment of the occasion Marston finally entered the ring and once again acknowledged the highly vocal and appreciative crowd until the final chord of the emotive ring walk track.
Once referee Ken Curtis had completed his pre fight rule talk it was time for action.
Marston lithely prowled her way across the ring to meet her opponent head on with a massive right hand jab, closely followed with a big left, Roman was clearly stunned by the massive early assault, but still managed to cover up just as a second double handed barrage was thrown, closely followed up with a big left to the head sending the Hungarian girl to the canvas.
Roman recovered sufficiently to box defensively against the ever forward moving Marston, however after about twenty seconds or so Marston corralled the Hungarian in her own corner, with nowhere to go Roman covered up in preparation for yet another double handed assault.
As the seemingly never ending barrage rained down Roman succumbed to the inevitable and went down for a second time.
With barely enough time to catch her breath Roman once again was forced to cover up, as Marston continued to throw massive double handed barrages.
The onslaught proved too much for Roman, who had let her hands drop enough for Marston to land a big right to the head, followed by an equally vicious left to send her reeling against the corner post.
Marston could smell blood and pounced in for the kill, first landing a massive overhand right closely followed by another wicked left hook, which shook Roman to the core.
Then, on the one minute forty seven second mark, just as Marston was about to throw yet another big left to the head of the clearly disoriented Hungarian, referee Ken Curtis jumped in to save the now virtually defenseless Roman from further punishment.
As soon as she realized it was over and she had won, an ecstatic Marston turned towards the legion of fans to her left and made an emotional statement, dedicating her victory to the memory of her mentor Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Prior to the mid-event break Ideh Ockuko faced Brendan Bean.
The first round started quite edgily, as both men played a waiting game, but soon livened up about midway through, first to go on full attack was Ockuko who first backed Bean up before letting rip with a solid right.
Bean stepped up to the plate and went toe to toe with Ockuko for the final quarter of the round.
Second round started as the first ended with both men in centre ring with big exchanges, Ockuko decided to mix things up a bit, slipping in a series of big shots to the body followed by a wickedly quick sharp uppercut, which if it had landed would surely have knocked Bean out cold.
Throughout the round both men fought their hearts out, but it was Ockuko who was landing the better shots.
Round three was more of the same, again Ockuko landed the best shots throughout, including a sweet left uppercut.
Both men slowed the pace in the final round, but as before it was Ockuko getting best from each exchange.
When referee Paul Thomas’ score card was read out it rightly showed Ockuko as the victor, but by a surprising 39-37 points margin, whereas I had it as a shutout 40-36 points victory for Ockuko.
Third fight of the night see Chris Rackley against the Hjag Gill.
It was a quick start by both combatants, although most shots from either man failed to penetrate the others guard in the early exchanges. First clean shot came from Gill, who landed a peach of a body shot.
From then on it was Gill totally dominating the round, leaving Rackley to go more and more defensive, with the odd counter to the body of the elusive Gill.
Throughout the second round Gill’s superior movement caused Rackley to miss way too often, which in turn left openings for Gill to pounce and rough Rackley up.
However as the second round came to a close Rackley had started to get a little success, landing a succession of clean shots in the final seconds.
Round three see Rackley start to take control of the fight, forcing Gill onto the back foot. Gill fought well defensively but by the end of the round Rackley was well in control, following Rackley landing a cracking right that clearly stunned Gill.
With the fight in the balance it came as no surprise that both combatants came out hard and fast in the final round. Almost right from the start the crowd were on their feet, as a true toe to toe Battle Royale ensued.
Both men enjoyed success throughout, however it was Rackley that landed the more meaningful shots, enough to win the round, which in turn proved to be enough to secure the contest, by a close 39-38 points victory.
The second fight of the night pitted Scrappa Smith against Lewis van Poetsh.
Right from the off Poetsh pressured Smith, who kept trying to get his jab going to try and stymie the relentless forward coming attacks from Poetsh without much success. Poetsh was getting more and more success, landing vicious left and rights to the body.
More of the same in the second, although Smith was getting some good success when working on the inside, problem was Poetsh was getting more!
About midway through Poetsh landed a scintillating left-right combination which clearly hurt Smith, so much so that Scrappa became more defensive minded, which left Poetsh opportunity after opportunity to showcase his excellent boxing skills.
The pace slowed in round three, Smith used his jab effectively in the early part of the round, but by the midway point Poetsh had once again began to exert his authority and was able to pick of Smith at will.
Realising he was behind, Smith went hard on the attack in the final stanza, leaving Poetsh no option but to counter, which he did rather effectively, so much so that once again he had landed the more meaningful shots.
Even before referee Mickey Vann’s scorecard was readout it was clear an upset was on the cards, so no surprises then when the result showed a 39-37 points victory in favour of Poetsh.
Opening up the show was Mark Douglas versus Dmitri Kalinovskij.
Douglas shot out of his corner like an Olympic sprinter, when the bell rang to start the contest, quickly closing down Kalinovskij and landing a storming overhand right that had clearly stunned the Lithuanian visitor.
Douglas then went to work, throwing bomb after bomb to head and body, Kalinovskij tried to counter at any given opportunity but the pressure from Douglas proved too much and around the two minute mark, Douglas sent the Lithuanian to the canvas with massive right.
Douglas kept up the pressure in the second, pounding Kalinovskij’s body with big left and right hands, around the one minute mark the Lithuanian found himself backed into the corner, Douglas stepped in and started letting rip with big left and rights. After about ten to fifteen seconds of pounding, with nothing coming back from Kalinovskij, referee Paul Thomas had no option but to step in to save the Lithuanian further punishment.
Have to say it was so refreshing to attend a small hall show where there fights were properly matched, something lacking on the British scene for a long while, where instead so called prospects are getting ridiculously easy fights way too far into their career.
Dave Murphy and his crew deserve a big slap on the back for keeping the show on track, not an easy task with not only the loss of the Goodwin-Fagan title fight, but also the loss of the proposed main support bout, Dean Byrne versus Jay Morris for the vacant International Masters Welterweight title just days previously.
The reason Byrne-Morris failed to materialize is very different to that of the headline bout, in this case the British Boxing Board of Control told BBBodC license holders taking part, stating that if they take part in the event it will be deemed they have resigned their license with the board or at least put their license holding in jeopady.
Hmm, that sounds familiar, didn’t they do the same prior to David Haye versus Dereck Chisora back in July last year!
In addition to the loss of the two main fights, just ten days before the event Murphy and his crew also had to find new sanctioning, following the Luxembourg Boxing Federation, who sanctioned the infamous Haye-Chisora event at Upton Park last year, pulled out after pressure exerted on them by the Luxembourg Sports Ministry, following the BBBofC contacting the Luxembourg Embassy in London to complain about the LBF sanctioning another event in the UK.
However, after some nifty negotiations with the extremely efficient German Boxing Association (GBA), which was only finalized on the preceding Monday, the show was back on track.
As I said the show was of a much higher standard, bout matching wise, than we are used to here in the UK. Hopefully that means all future events, sanctioned by the GBA in the UK, will be to the same high standards, if it is that can only be good for the sport.