Noteworthy May and June Domestic Duals Shaping Up Well

29.04.04 – By Elliot Worsell: The hugely anticipated British and commonwealth title dust up between Liverpool’s Tony Dodson and Nottingham’s Carl Froch meandered through another twist this week, when proud Lonsdale champion Dodson, was refused the right for a warm up bout on May 1 (in Cardiff, over six rounds). The 23 year old Dodson, upon hearing that a June 2 rendezvous had been mustered for his battle with Froch, had set his sights firmly on Saturday’s bill in Cardiff, in the hope of getting some much needed rounds before entering his biggest fight to date.

The British Boxing Board Of Control seemingly had other ideas. Rejecting Dodson’s proposal on the grounds that it was 28 days away from his mandatory defence, and not the allotted 30 days, Dodson is now staring at the proposition of being inactive for some 6 months when he laces the boots and wraps the hands on June 2.

Nevertheless, the minor blip on Dodson’s preparations will do little to detract from the intrigue and excitement this battle of young champions has conjured up. Shrewd London based promoter Mick Hennessy, carrying the attitude of an ageing rocker looking to show the new wave a thing or two, has said a resounding ‘no’ to counterfeit titles and dressed up ‘world title’ fights, and an emphatic ‘yes’ to the traditional, rich in history, domestic title fights boxing fans as a whole enjoy so much. Dodson-Froch represents a clear indication of how Hennessy works, and in turn, all parties hope the atmospheric Nottingham Ice Arena will be packed to the rafters on June 2nd, as these two gutsy titleholders lock horns.

Although both participants obviously have the noted mutual respect that goes glove in glove with the sport of boxing, there have been rumblings over the last few weeks that suggest there’s a whole lot more on the line for both fighters than purely titles, riches and self pride. Both, amiable, well spoken belt holders have been playing verbal ping pong in an attempt to drum up publicity for a fight that marks the cornerstone of both men’s professional career’s so far. The talk’s irrelevant some might say. You could gag both men until the first bell on June 2, and the arena would still be sweltering, the atmosphere deafening, and the intrigue ever present.

But why the appeal? Granted, neither fighter is particularly significant on the world 168 lb scene at present, nor has either made a single defence of the belts currently held, but even so, everyone’s talking about the contest like no other domestic dual so far this year. All things’s considered, the real matter at hand centres on the risks both men are taking. Neither champion would be blamed for stepping past this contest. For Froch, a dazzling former world amateur bronze medallist, there’s been no easy touches so far as a professional. Thrown off the top board within his first 14 fights, asked questions as to whether he’d sink or swim, the self proclaimed ‘Cobra’ has thus far, passed with flying colours. Last time out, he grinded out a noteworthy win over the tough as nails Charles Adamu for the African’s commonwealth crown. From one edge of the seat, back’s to the wall thriller comes another against Dodson.

The parallels between the two combatants don’t just begin and end with their weight. If Froch’s avoided cotton wool professional upbringings like the plague, Tony Dodson has an allergy to the fluffy substance. An early starter at 19, Dodson was given tough assignment after tough assignment upon trading in the vest and headgear. Elvis Michailenko in his 8th fight, Brian Barbosa at a day’s notice, and tough rumbles with European dangermen have been the course of the day for much of the battle hardened Scouser’s career, and he believes, he’s all the better for it.

So there we have it. Two young punchers putting it all on the line in the hope of further success and domestic bragging rights at super middleweight. Neither fighter afforded the pampering so many young fighters experience during their education, on June 2nd, once and for all, the banter will stop, the gloves will be laced up and the fighting will commence – big thing’s await the winner.

Cook and Bennett set to kick off May with a bang …

Another potential late spring thriller could be the Lightweight tussle between Jason Cook and Kevin Bennett on Saturday in Bridgend, Cardiff. After an original cancellation, both men are set to duke it out for Cook’s lightly regarded IBO title, and the Welsh fans, as always, are expected to drum up a special fight night atmosphere.

Cook 22-1 (10 KO’s), the bright haired, Welsh banger, last seen uniting Ariel Oliveira continuously with the ring canvas over seven rounds, is a ticking time bomb of a fighter. Often wild, often vulnerable, but more than often, very exciting, Cook has built a reputation on his loose, jack in a box style, since shocking the form books in August 2002, when he flattened respected European title holder Sandro Casamonica in three rounds. Cook was hurt, floored, and hanging to the cliff by his fingernails at the time of the stoppage, and had it not been for one almighty left hook, he’d have stared his second professional loss dead in the face. As it turned out, that night in Italy turned out to be the defining night in the Welshman’s career. Had it not been for a lack of professionalism in regards to weight making, the European title glory nights might have continued to roll.

With the coveted European title lost on the scales before the scheduled first defence against Stefano Zoff, Cook had to look elsewhere for title chances. And here we have the IBO strap, a title picked up last time out when Cook put on a dominant showing against the aforementioned Argentinean Oliveira. The same old ferocity was present, the same old intensity, but what the opponent Oliveira didn’t bring to the table was ambition and an arsenal of his own. Kevin Bennett, Cook’s opposite number on Saturday night, should prove a different proposition altogether.

Bennett 15-3 (6 KO’s), the proud owner of the commonwealth lightweight title, has done things the hard way in his professional career, and has successfully transformed a teetering, losing career, into a noteworthy title winning effort. Early defeats to accomplished domestic campaigners Colin Lynes, Gary Ryder and Glen McClarnon, looked to ominously scribble the writing on the wall for Bennett, but thanks to some gutsy matchmaking and a great sense of timing, faded warrior Colin Dunne proved the ticket to retribution. With cracks appearing, and dreams of yesteryear creeping up on Dunne, the ambitious Brummie carved a career of his own that night in September, as he bludgeoned Colin to a shocking two round stoppage defeat. Alarm bells chimed for Dunne, chants of praise and acknowledgment for Bennett.

Last time out Bennett, with a renewed sense of vigour and drive beforehand, had to endure an agonising battle beyond the call of duty against mediocre African Michael Muya for the well-respected commonwealth strap. Ahead on the cards and boxing within himself, Bennett seemed to be home and dry, with Muya seemingly settled for a landslide point’s defeat. However, some thing’s are never that easy, and that night in Bridgend dished out some harsh lessons to Bennett, as he badly struggled through the penultimate rounds, his stamina and airways seemingly giving way. Forever the warrior, Bennett hung on for dear life, but the newly acquired commonwealth title, failed to eradicate the worries and fears aimed in Bennett’s direction at the final bell.

On Saturday night against Cook, Bennett will have the chance to put to rest the worries over his stamina and health, and will be afforded the opportunity to add the Welshman’s title to his collection. Bringing to the table, guts, a decent workrate, and accurate straight shots fired from a high held guard, Bennett will have to use his boxing nouse to make the heavy handed Cook miss, and more importantly make him pay. The Welshman has shown chinks in his armoury in the past, and if Bennett can get his shots off, he knows Cook can be, and has been previously, hurt by successive shots to the chin. Unfortunately for Bennett, he’s not a concussive hitter. Against Dunne, a shock early stoppage, the Birmingham based fighter came out all guns blazing, and simply took the wooden legged ex champion by surprise. Against a pumped up, devilish puncher like Cook, I can’t see the same thing unfolding. Unlike Dunne, Cook will meet fire with fire, should Bennett come out early. And unlike Colin, Cook has the spring, the pop and that monstrous left hook to seriously deter Bennett. Bennett will give his all, and make the most of this title night, but ultimately Cook will prevail in the latter rounds.

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