all pictures by @unknown_boxers
Siar Ozgul went the distance with Viktor Postol, but was halted defending his Southern Area Super Lightweight Title against Mikey Sakyi. Those back to back defeats last year saw the Hackney based Turk throw everything he could into his performance. In the Sakyi fight, that was his downfall; knackered in the tenth, Siar was overwhelmed by a resurgent Sakyi. He stepped up a weight for the first time on Saturday against Sam Antwi, for the Southern Area Welterweight Title.
For an MTK show, York Hall was ever so slightly less rowdy than usual, but that’s compared to other MTK shows rather than other York Hall shows. The crowd was still fiercely partisan, noisy when their man was treading canvas. Regardless of loyalties there was plenty of talent on display for the neutral, with a cracking main event to boot.
When Siar Ozgul and Sam Antwi entered the ring, it was an apparent foregone conclusion. Ozgul is courageous but there was no way he could fend off Antwi who was twice his size and had superior movement and variety. Was there?
Having stepped up, his first fight at welter was for a title, against a natural 147lb fighter who failed to make weight (costing him the belt should he win), Ozgul was up against it. The early rounds were a complete mismatch, as Siar relied solely on his left hook to fend Sam off feebly. Antwi tracked him with the aura of a school bully. Picking on a smaller prey, collapsing Ozgul’s escape routes, Antwi sent looping rights raining down, confident his obvious strength would see this out early.
Antwi was in for a surprise. Speed and movement didn’t desert Siar. Head hunting for the finish slowly seemed like a poor choice. Ozgul weaved and ducked, moving his head well, though admittedly in desperation at times. What looked like a done deal evolved into a more skilful, even affair by the eighth. Then all of a sudden Siar buckled, legs gone, bent forwards with a tragic physical echo of his loss to Sakyi.
Despite seeming dominance Antwi was unable to put a canny Siar to bed. He lasted the round, though it was surely only a matter of time. It wasn’t. Ozgul came out in the last two and stuck it on Sam. An onslaught in the final stanza saw Siar turn the tide, but with not enough seconds left to affect the cards. A wild, wild ending to a wonderful main event. 98-93 was the verdict in Sam Antwi’s favour- who was denied the belt.
Both fighters learned from this. Antwi will need to tune his accuracy and over eagerness. Resting on what you deem to be your laurels during a Southern Area fight is not a promising omen. Ozgul already didn’t know the meaning of quit, even in Turkish. He is not a natural welterweight though. His attitude of “not today” to defeat, is admirable, but down at super light, will be more effective.
all interviews by Chris Waddams
Josip Perkovic came with the promise of giving Lewisham light heavyweight Dan Azeez more rounds. Azeez had stated he was desperate for them. Sometimes we want something, then when we get it we get bored of it quickly. Dan knows that now.
Patiently stalking Josip, the uniquely dressed (admirably so) Azeez patiently waited for a chin to explode on. His balance, bodywork and mostly- brains, allowed him to find that after six minutes. Eventually he had the switch hitting Perkovic eating uppercuts and suffering left hooks to the ribs. Josip took a sensible, clever, knee in the third. Azeez jumped him after, but there wasn’t the time left in the round.
As the fourth began, Dan had hit reset. Returning to his terminator like presence; Azeez picked his precise shots near perfectly. Perkovic looked increasingly like a man pretending to participate. Referee Chas Coakley saw his fearful eyes and waved it off, saving Josip a more severe beating. Titles beckon Azeez, and on a personal level it is lovely to see Lewisham light heavies prosper so prominently.
IBO and WBC Silver champion Chantelle Cameron stepped out for the first time under the guidance of MTK, and this six round fight was further evidence that the ladies would rack up stoppages like the men given another minute in each session. Relentless, terrifying pressure and output from Cameron had her foe Feriche Mashauri halted in the second.
“Unable to defend herself” was the reason given. In truth all Mashauri did was defend herself. A better conclusion would have been outgunned and unable to attack having not thrown a punch in a seeming age. Cameron is a killer, and hopefully a crossover boxer finally able to attract those stick in the mud male fans.
After two years out, thirty three year old John O’Donnell faced a Bulgarian who has only seen twenty one years on this increasingly horrible planet. Iliyan Markov also came to York Hall with three stoppage wins, and clearly decided that attack was his best form of defence. O’Donnell stood there, static, taking what came at him and occasionally throwing back, admittedly accurately and with spite.
The former English and Commonwealth champion, O’Donnell visibly shook rust off. One combination made Markov’s mouthpiece explode from his face. Evading the punches in a way its holder could not. Never backing down, Markov was on a hiding to nothing as the four rounds whiled away. Boxing smartly, and suddenly nimbly off the back foot, with clean combinations, O’Donnell fought with swelling confidence.
John O’Donnell takes home a 39-37 win over a very determined opponent. He will be looking upwards, and his latter rounds suggest the Galway man still has his groove.
Also on the bill, Liam Wells beat a tough opponent in Jumanne Camero, an admirable victory. Khazak Viktor Kotochigov overcame Andrejs Podusovs over eight on points. Steven Ward made Abdula Arabie retire in the fifth. James Hawley went three and 0 on pints over four against Zygimantas Butkevicius and Donovan Mortlock got an identical shutout 40-36. That was Mortlock’s third, a beating Geiboord Omier.
All pictures courtesy of Scott Rawsthorne and MTK: @unknown_boxers and @MTKLondon