by James Slater – Last night, at the Historic York Hall, Bethnal Green, London, 33-year-old Tony Oakey of Portsmouth won the light-heavyweight tournament of promoter Barry Hearn’s “PrizeFighter” series. For those unfamiliar with the Sky Sport’s televised series that has given us tourneys at heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight and now light-heavyweight, the competition sees eight fighters contesting a total of seven 3×3 minute round fights between them, with the eventual two finalists meeting to battle it out for a trophy and a pay day of a tidy £25,000..
The eight fighters competing last night were: Courtney Fry, Tony Oakey, Billy Boyle, Bob Ajisafe, Darren Stubbs, Carl Dilks, Steve Spartacus and Shon Davies.
Oakey, one of the tournament’s betting favourites, got to the final with typically thrilling wins over first Boyle and then Fry (the outright favourite coming in last night) – out-pointing both men in the swarming, all-out aggressive manner he is known for. Both fights were exciting to watch, but the former British and Commonwealth champ won both via unanimous verdicts. This earned Oakey his place in the final, where he met tournament outsider Darren Stubbs.
Stubbs, the 37-year-old from Oldham, shocked the more favoured Steve Spartacus with the only stoppage of last night’s contest, dropping him for the count in the 2nd round. Then, in a bizarre and controversial turn of events, Stubbs “lost” on points in a close fight to the unbeaten and much younger Carl Dilks of Liverpool – only to see his split decision defeat corrected about ten or so minutes later!
Due to a quite staggering error, the three ringside judges made a blunder and the split verdict that was announced as for Dilks was actually meant for Stubbs. Spare a thought for the 25-year-old who, thinking he was on his way to the final and a shot at earning £25,000, was then told he’d in fact lost and he could now go home! Needless to say, the now 10-1(4) Dilks was angry and upset.
It now meant the emotional 37-year-old had made it to the final, however, and he and Oakey met for the trophy.
In a pretty tepid affair by Oakey’s standards, the two fought until the final bell. The action was okay, but Oakey’s two previous bouts gave fans much more action. The final was in no way close and it was apparent there was only going to be one winner. Stubbs, as game as they come, gave it his best but Oakey’s greater experience and skill level saw him to a wide, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 UD win.
All in all the light-heavyweight’s turn in the “PrizeFighter” series produced an eventful three hours, with a touch of controversy thrown in for good measure. If ever a fighter was suited perfectly to the concept of throwing as much leather as you can for three, three minute rounds, where neither you nor you opponent has any time to feel a way into the fight and instead has to come out blazing all the way – it was the 33-year-old. Fittingly, he won last night.
In doing so, the always value for money warrior improved to 28-4-1(7), while Stubbs, in surprising us all by getting as far as he did, fell to 19-5(8).
Roll on the next instalment of the popular series.