By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro: Those lucky enough to score tickets for Steve Goodwin’s ‘Judgment Day’ event at York Hall on Saturday night were treated to a thrilling night of pugilistic artistry at a level rarely seen these days. At the end of the five hour, 13 fight marathon, those present, and just those present, as it was an off-TV show, witnessed one of the greatest fights held on British soil this year. Without doubt if this was an on-TV show Yassine El Maachi – Jimmy Colas would be nominated for ‘Fight of the Year’ honours.
Yassine El Maachi put on a masterful display that see him totally outbox Jimmy Colas to retain his International Light Middleweight crown. To describe Yassine’s performance as exceptional would be an understatement, awe inspiring may be a better statement but still wouldn’t get across just how slick, classy and totally dominating his performance over the former EBU-EU, and current WBC Latino Light Middleweight champion was.
From the first bell El Maachi teased and frustrated Colas with his unorthodox attacks. Time after time El Maachi would trip the light fantastic before letting rip with a flurry of punches, leaving Colas lashing out at his shadow. Close to the end of the round the crowd erupted as Colas went crashing to the canvas, albeit from a push, El Maachi sauntered over and stood, hands raised above his head, over the prone Haitian and taunted him to the crowds delight.
Round two was more of the same El Maachi dancing around and picking off the hapless Colas at will. The third began with El Maachi pawing with his jab before delivering a series of wicked uppercuts that rocked Colas to the core. Towards the end of the round El Maachi stepped up the showboating as the crowd chanted Yassine, Yassine, Yassine.
Rounds four and five were very much more of the same; fluid movement followed by wickedly fast uppercuts and combinations before sashaying away before Colas could even respond. El Maachi was deducted a point by the referee, Jeff Hines, in the final quarter of round five for head butting. The crowd showed their disapproval of the referee‘s decision as it was just a clearly unintentional by-product of his unorthodox movement during a forceful attack.
Rounds six and seven the action continued in the same vein although at a slightly slower pace, which allowed Colas a modicum of close range success. El Maachi stepped the pace up again in round eight which culminated in a scintillatingly fast and vicious right-left combination that rocked Colas.
El Maachi shifted to high gear for the final rounds, in doing so he put on one helluva show and picking off Colas with exquisite uppercuts, right crosses and blisteringly fast combinations. A knockout finish looked to be on the cards but in the end Colas showed his durability by surviving the constant onslaught, and a rather amusing tangle that saw the pair tumble to the canvas in the final seconds of the round.
Referee Jeff Hinds scored the bout 98-92 to the reigning champ Yassine El Maachi.
The main support for El Maachi-Colas featured the resurgent former English Super Featherweight, and current International Masters Lightweight Champion Ryan ‘Mr Attitude’ Barrett against Croatian Almin Kovacevic.
Barrett controlled the fight from the opening bell using his super slick jab. Round two saw Barrett mix it up a bit, letting rip with some crisp left hooks that clearly hurt the advancing Kovacevic. More success followed in the third as Barrett again let rip with a vicious hook to the body. Kovacevic was clearly struggling and grabbed Barrett to prevent any chance of a follow-up. Each time Barrett came forward the Croatian would grab hold of Barrett to stifle any attack. Late in the round Kovacevic received a warning for the constant holding.
Kovacevic was again warned in the fourth for holding each time Barrett tried to work up close. The fifth round saw Kovacevic being deducted a point for his constant holding, moments later Barrett pinned him to the ropes with constant left-right barrage of shots, Kovacevic blatantly throwing an elbow into Barrett’s cheek, Barrett responding with a massive left that sent the Croatian crashing to the deck. After taking the eight count Kovacevic then received a second point deduction for the elbow from referee Jeff Hines. Barrett went in for the finish but again Kovacevic grabbed hold, Jeff Hines again separating them, but on the restart Kovacevic thwarted Barrett’s attack by grabbing hold, albeit for the last time as Jeff Hines called a halt to the proceedings by disqualifying Kovacevic for continued holding.
Another disqualification preceded the Barrett-Kovacevic bout. This time John ‘The Gorilla’ Ryder was declared victor after Sabie Montieth was disqualified for illegal use of the head by referee Robert Williams after just 30 seconds of the first round!
The major shock of the night came when Canning Town’s hugely popular Super Featherweight debutant Richard Hines was stopped in the third round by Norfolk’s Scott Moises. I say shock as the skillful Hines had easily controlled the first two rounds, and was in charge in the third until Moises let rip with a cracking left-right that sent him crashing to the deck. Hines beat the count but it was clear that his fight was over as his legs wobbled badly as he stood. Referee Robert Williams instantly called the fight off and declared Moises winner by knockout.
Tyler Goodjohn gave a masterful display against the experienced Jason Nesbitt to earn a well deserved 40-36 points decision. Goodjohn controlled the first couple of rounds utilising his jab along with stinging body shots. Nesbitt came back in the early part of the third but Goodjohn had no intention of conceding any ground to the more experienced Brummy and took back control with some exceptional boxing to dominate to the rest of the bout.
Prior to Goodjohn-Nesbitt was a lightweight contest featuring the debut of Ultrachem TKO Gym’s ‘Pretty’ Ricky Boylan against Sid Razak of Birmingham. Boylan, a former London ABA finalist, controlled the fight from start with lightning quick combinations that pushed back the normally forward coming Razak.
It was hard to think that Boylan was debuting, as his performance was exceptionally slick and mature in it’s approach. Round after round Razak was having to cover up as Boylan peppered him with solid combinations to the head and body. In the final round ‘Pretty Ricky’ changed tactics and boxed on the back foot but still Razak was unable to get any semblance of control due to Boylan’s impressive movement and powerful combinations. Surprisingly the referee deemed the fight as a 59-56 points win for ‘Pretty’ Ricky and not the clear shut out it was.
Woodford Green’s Light Middleweight Michael Norgrove secured his fourth career victory over the experienced Matt Scriven from Nottingham. I have to say that whilst I do agree with the referee that Norgrove won, I can’t agree with the shutout 60-56 score.
The first couple of rounds were close but as Scriven not only worked harder but also landed the more meaningful shots he should have at least have had one of the accredited to him. Round three was where the turning point of the bout came. Norgrove actually started to fight rather than pose, but still most of his jabs were air-jabs rather than having any serious intent.
Scriven was forced to mount his attacks coming in low under the jabs, which eventually lead to him receiving a warning from the referee for leading with the head in the fourth. The final rounds see Norgrove well in control as he pressured his more experienced opponent before letting rip with a series of crisp combinations. Referee scored the bout 60-56
Stevenage’s Daniel Herdman made a welcome return to the ring, following a two year sabbatical after breaking his hand, against the seriously tough Ryan Clark.
What a cracking fight, neither gave or expected any quarter, both attacked in similar style often finishing off with vicious left-right combinations to the body or head. Herdman, being the much more busier in his attacks, took the first couple of rounds. Clark stepped it up in the third, which would prove to be a very close round, as both had equal success with their heavy handed attacks.
Herdman not only took control of the final round but also came close to securing a stoppage finish mid way through, after following in with a vicious double hand attack after forcing Clarke back onto the ropes. Herdman kept up the pressure until the final bell and was declared victor by a 39-37 points margin.
Welterweight Phil ‘The Phil Gill Experience’ Gill found himself with a much heavier opponent following Jason Carr stepping in to replace Swansea’s Craig Dyer at the last minute. Mind you that didn’t dampen the spirits of the feisty Mr Gill, he seemed to relish hunting down his larger opponent before letting rip with an array of combinations and heavy right hands. Gill had worn Carr down so much that by the final round all Carr could do was dip and sway against the ropes in an effort to avoid the barrage of punches the Terrier like Gill was throwing. Surprisingly the referee deemed the bout a 39-37 victory for Phil Gill and not a shut out as I see it.
Ultrachem TKO’s Eighteen year old Super Middleweight Brett O’Callaghan made his professional debut against the vastly experienced Billy Smith following Gary Cooper pulling out at the last minute.
The youngster showed maturity beyond his tender years by controlling his much older opponent with fast hands and solid jabs. As the fight moved into to the second half Smith tried to bully the younger O’Callaghan back onto the ropes without success as the savvy youth used smart footwork and his solid jabs to keep Smith at bay.
O’Callaghan baptism of fire ended with a nice 39-37 points victory justifiably in his favour.
The assembled crowd at York Hall were on their feet and in full voice the moment they see the stetson wearing John Wayne Hibbert appear and didn’t abate throughout their heroes six round encounter with William Warburton.
Hibbert ensured that by putting on one of his trademark attacking displays. About the only time the decibel levels dropped was after Hibbert received a cut above the left eye in third round. Hibbert seemed unfazed by the cut as he kept on pressuring Warburton to secure a tidy 59-55 points victory.
The second fight of the night was a rematch for Ultrachem TKO’s exceptional 19 year old Super Featherweight ‘Saint’ George Jupp and Latvian Pavels Senkovs. Back in September Jupp gave Senkovs a boxing master class to secure a clear points victory. Senkovs had revenge on his mind and went straight on the attack, Jupp again used his brain and stayed out of a slugging match responding with solid jabs and accurate left-rights to keep the Latvian at bay. Jupp used his perfect jabs to control and frustrate Senkovs who clearly wanted to avenge his previous loss. Alas Senkovs hopes ended half way through the final round when the referee Jeff Hines stopped the fight due to a rather nasty cut over his left eye.
The opening fight of Judgment Day was Light Middleweight contest between Bobby Gladman and Danny Donchev. Gladman showed some serious class to keep the lively Dontchev under control, after a close first round Gladman found his range and totally dominated the middle two rounds. Donchev came on hard again in the final round and although enjoyed some success Gladman landed the more meaningful shots to secure a tidy 39-37 points victory.