EJKO Promotions treated fight fans to a night of high drama at Walsall Town Hall on Saturday evening (1st March).
The main events didn’t disappoint nor did the seven-fight undercard, which included a couple of surprise results.
At the top of the bill, Ryan Hardy was crowned British Masters Welterweight Champion after ten grueling rounds of action with Stourbridge’s Steven Pearce.
Hardy started like a steam train and was full of over exuberance, showboating and unsettling Pearce early on. He caught the eye in the opening three rounds but as the fight wore on Pearce began to land cleaner shots, catching his opponent and bloodying his mouth. Surprisingly though, after earning a reputation as a ‘come-forward’ fighter the International Masters Champion seemed to switch his game plan for this fight – his fourth title bout in a row – which played into Hardy’s hands as the Sheffield scrapper landed and frustrated in equal measure.
It was closer than referee Shaun Messer’s 98-95 scoring as Hardy hand was raised to be crowned British Masters Champion. Credit to both fighters, who slugged it over ten rounds and credit to Hardy for travelling down from Sheffield and edging out the hometown fighter. A rematch, in Hardy’s backyard, would make intriguing viewing.
The second title fight of the evening saw Walsall’s, Luke Paddock, walk away with the Bronze Masters Light Welterweight Title.
Paddock took on Gloucester’s Andy Harris over 8 x 3’s in what was another exhilarating contest. Massive credit to Harris, who took the fight at short notice after Stoke’s Kevin Hanks pulled out late last week. The Gloucester man impressed early on and connected with a number of overhand rights. A right hook in the third round shook Paddock to his boots and the Walsall man did well to stay upright, clear his head and continue.
Paddock’s work was much the slicker though and soon his superior boxing skills began to pay dividends. Jabbing with pinpoint accuracy, ‘Cool Hand’ Luke, pounded away at Harris’ right eye, which was marked from the fifth round.
By the eighth, Harris’ eye was grotesquely swollen and almost shut. Paddock landed a booming right hook into the wound and, after consulting the ringside doctor, referee Gareth Morris waved the contest off. It was harsh on Harris who, for sheer guts, determination and his early dominance, deserved to hear the final bell toll.
However, it was the correct decision and Paddock claimed a sixth straight professional victory and the Bronze Masters belt in front of his adoring public.
The evening began with a routine 40-36 victory for Stoke’s Josh McLaren, now 4-0, over Tamworth’s Matt Seawright. There were carbon copy results for Halesowen super middleweight, Lennox Clarke(now 3-0), and West Bromwich light middleweight, Tom Stokes (now 4-0), over Rotherham’s Shaun Law and Bognor Regis’ Liam Griffiths respectively.
Midlands cruiserweight champion Christopher Keane went through the motions to also record a shut-out 40-36 landslide over Lithuania’s Igor Borucha.
There were two surprise results to follow though.
Derby debutant, Junior Thompson, brought Kyle Spencer’s unbeaten start to life as a professional boxer to an abrupt end. Spencer went into the contest 6-0 and started well against his raw opponent, who weighed in six pounds heavier than the Kingswinford man on the night.
Composed and working off the jab, Spencer won the opening round but was caught with a powerful right hook flush to the jaw in the second. Thompson swarmed and Spencer’s hands never came up leaving referee Shaun Messer no alternative but to dive in and halt proceedings. As with Pearce, Spencer could well be seeking a rematch to avenge defeat. Credit to Thompson though whose professional career is off to a bang.
The final fight of the undercard saw Ryandeep Nandha’s professional debut end in complete contrast to that of Thompson. The Leicester welterweight came out to rapturous applause and dancing from his vocal support, which numbered over 150.
However, he came crashing down to earth with a bang as Birmingham veteran Jason Nesbitt recorded his first victory since November 2010.
Nandha walked onto a right hook at the start of the fourth round and hit each rope on his way to the canvas. It was a brutal welcome to life in the pro game.