“So good! So good, so good!”
The O2 is an impressive arena, and a televised Matchroom show is important enough that even security get haircuts. Peng, guys, peng. Everyone loves a bouncer’s bonce, it’s why they tune in. I could hardly watch the fighting for all the follicle finesse. Able to pry their eyes off the security, the O2 crowd was in good mood.
First the fisticuffs.
Top of the bill, and we’ll rush through this like excitable children again ignoring Peppa Pig, saw David Allen face former world champion Lucas Browne. You might not have heard, but Dave Allen is popular. There’s a reason for that- he’s a nice, entertaining guy. So is Lucas Browne, the former bouncer, MMA fighter, WBA World champion and apparent fistic polymath.
Onlookers ringside kept mentioning chopping trees, due to Carl Froch’s proximity. It struck me during the fight that never was a simile more succinct. David Allen and Lucas Browne stood unbent, unbowed and as limber as timber. Each trying to fell the other. The mighty, aged oak of Browne was cuffing chips off of Allen for a round or so. Suddenly, whatever the appropriate wooden metaphor for popular plucky underdog is, Allen remembered that his head is able and allowed to move. Within minutes that epiphany revealed the angles to let a left land on Lucas’s liver.
Browne looked at his corner from the canvas forlorn. Shaking his head. The ten count whistling overhead.
Having recently won fan favour, the boxer formerly known as Del Boy, Dereck “War” Chisora did his best to invade the territory of Senad Gashi. There are two meanings to boxing off the back foot. One is an astute, potentially risky game plan implemented by the truly skilful- or those aspiring to be. The other is a “holy shit if he tags me I’ll be waking up somewhere else” evasive maneuver. Gashi, tagged early, employed the latter. Totally understandable, if you had Dereck Chisora headhunting you the ropes would not be a sufficient distance away.
Unfortunately, given Gashi’s southpaw stance, closing the ring off completely still carried the danger of walking on to a known puncher’s hefty left for Dereck. Sadly, it turned a ten round fight into an exercise in evasion, as Gashi circled the ropes clockwise. He was chased by War, but one hoped TV helped the action with a Hookey Street overture. Chisora won clearly, and fairly. Small hall I’d have shouted “walkaround”, knowing the AJ fight was perhaps still an option. But I’m a cynic.
Nikita Ababiy, the bleach blonde twenty year old known as White Chocolate pleasingly pierced the show with a second round stoppage of Dimitri Faltin. Having said in the Toe 2 Toe podcast, where he (understandably) made a friend in Anna Woolhouse, that he’d like to get to ten and 0 without leaving the first, there was no shame in halting Faltin 26 seconds in to two. The US DAZN import is certainly one to tune in for.
If Josh Kelly was out to prove a point, he succeeded. Whether that point was as he intended is dubious. Showboating from the get go, the former Team GB welterweight made an admirable case for boxer with the most ability to turn a crowd against him. Even neutrals were honorary Poles by the end of a ten round fight against Przemyslaw Runowski for a spurious belt.
Kelly wiggled and thrust his way through the fight like a cocky virgin; all the confidence, yet inability to satisfy. He was ultimately left looking like he should have focused more on the fire rather than jazzing up the mantelpiece.
When Kelly loses, and he will lose, there will be many bathing in schadenfreude after this. Runowski, despite touching down more than once, worked diligently, and took Kelly’s increasingly desperate shots as well as catching the Sunderland man much more than he’ll care to admit. It was admittedly largely one sided, but Kelly’s presence was revolting, frankly. As one Team Southpaw Jab fighter (Jamie “you can quote me” Hughes) put it, “Team GB, no bollocks, he’ll get found out”.
Whatever happens, let’s hope it’s with more decorum than this.
In eight title fights prior to facing Joe Cordina, Andy Townend had not heard the final bell. Despite a very impressive 7-1 winning record in those, this was sadly one which his pre-stated dream to win a British title was always unlikely. The small hall smasher was overcome by the class of Cordina and halted in six.
Unfairly criticised for her performance, Shannon Courtenay overcame Roz Silyanova comfortably. Hitting an immovable object for four in March, it was common sense to give Courtenay a movable one. Silyanova proving a valuable educator.
The crowd were also treated to Conor Benn outscoring Josef Zahradnik over eight, Sam Hyde returning from Richard Riakporhe’s right hand of reckoning with a first round TKO and Sam Cox displaying a need to adopt a pro style.
A tumour. A benign (for now) tumour, sure, but I know it’s there and it doesn’t go away. My efforts to remove it like Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill- it crashes back into my life unwelcome. The masses love it, I know, but the masses have had their mouthpiece, and this is mine.