The main event was for the vacant Southern Area Welterweight Title. The two warriors ready to do battle for the Area strap were Harrow’s Jez Smith and Stockwell’s Sammy Antwi. We often hear about boxers taking their time in fights – “feeling each other out”. But that didn’t happen here. Both fighters’ raucous fans knew they were in for a treat from the opening bell. The two men can bang and we didn’t have to wait long to see evidence of that.
Both men can bang, but what this fight showed was both men had hearts of champions. Toward the end of the first round Smith caught Antwi with a peach of a backhand right which would have floored many others. Antwi may not have been dropped, but he was hurt. The punch forced Sammy into survival mode, covering up and back to the ropes. Survive he did and survive well. With the ref taking a close look at him and Smith pouncing like a lion ready for the kill, Antwi used his slick head movement and Philly Shell style defence to make sure that if the flurry from Smith was landing, they were only glancing blows.
The second stanza started at a quick pace with Smith fast to put the pressure back on Antwi to try and force a stoppage. Antwi had recovered from the scare in the first round but wasn’t back at his best yet. But he had enough about him to make sure Jez’s power shots only glanced, if they connected at all. Smith’s fans were loving the action. It looked as though their man’s statement that he wouldn’t be surprised if the fight was over early could be on the cards. Smith did land a few meaningful and spiteful shots but they didn’t have an effect like the one in the first did. What was noticeable was that Smith looked a little tired already as he went back to his stool at the end of the second.
The third was an even round, with many at ringside split as to who they thought had the better of the three minutes. Smith seemed to be reduced to only trying to land the one big haymaker – the right hand that had caused all the damage in the first. Antwi was smart to that backhand right now, with every one thrown he slipped and landed a counter. Smith’s supporters still believed that their man was still getting the best of the fight but one man in his support, his brother Mitchell, looked worried. He was shouting instructions to his younger brother to vary the work up. But the noise in York Hall made it almost impossible for Jez to hear his brother’s advice.
The forth went the same way; Smith looking to connect with that same big shot, Antwi countering. But Antwi’s counters had huge variety to them. Working both the head and the body and throwing in flurries, Antwi took control of the bout from this point on.
The fifth and sixth rounds again followed the same script. But Smith’s success was becoming less and less. Antwi’s counters were taking their toll and body shots seemed to be the order of the day. In these middle rounds Antwi couldn’t miss, but he also seemingly couldn’t hurt Smith to the head and began to focus on the body.
If Smith’s fans believed their man was still in this fight, the seventh rammed it home for everyone that this was Antwi’s fight now. Looking tired before the round started and taking more and more damage to the body, Smith took a knee three times through the seventh. But that champion’s heart and warrior spirit saw him back on his feet before the red reached an 8 count; banging his gloves together and wanting to carry on. When Smith went down for a third time in the seventh Antwi’s fans were jubilant, clearly believing that their man had it in the bag. But again Smith rose and managed to see out the round.
I’ve mentioned Smith’s determined spirit, and it was there for all to see in the 8th. As a spectator it was clear to see: Smith was ready and willing to go out on his shield. The Bushy man didn’t shy away from the Antwi onslaught, firing back with what little he had left in the tank. But those bodyshots were still finding a home in Jez’s rib cage and they were sucking any energy left out of Smith.
When Smith took a knee again midway through the 8th, he was again yet up before the 8 count but his head coach Barry Smith had seen enough. Already half way up the ring steps to seemingly do just that, Barry turned to acknowledge a cal from the crowd to throw in the towel. Jez Smith had been defeated. Sammy Antwi’s fans and corner erupted in jubilation but the gladiator and gentleman that Sammy is saw him keep his reserve until he had gone over and made sure Jez was ok.
Only once Antwi had done this did his euphoria at winning erupt from him. Held aloft by his coach with his arms stretched out and looking up to the heavens; Sammy Antwi was the Southern Area Welterweight Champion. And the NEW!
Ofori was scheduled to defend his Southern Area Lightweight Title but when his opponent pulled out and no replacement found at short notice, the North Londoner had to settle for a six rounder against Jordan Ellison. Ofori couldn’t take Ellison lightly; the 23 year old beat Sean “Masher” Dodd over 6 rounds back in November. But Ofori was in no mood to give Ellison any respect, beating his young opponent pillar to post from rounds 2 to 5.
Jeffy could have had a knockdown scored in his favour in the second when Ellison’s knees buckled after a huge shot and he squatted down. The ref allowed the action to continue – Ellison’s gloves, knees or backside never touched the canvas – and with the split second of uncertainty about Ellison was able to keep himself away from Ofori for the remainder of the round. Ofori ran out a clear 60-54 winner and will be looking at big title fights in his future, whether they’re at Lightweight or Super-Featherweight will depend on the opportunity.
Team Southpaw Jab’s Ollie Pattison was making his return to the ring after a frustrating 14 months blighted with injury. Harry Matthews was the man in the opposite corner, a name familiar to Pattison who was scheduled to face Matthews before his injury nightmares for the British Challenge belt. This wasn’t an easy return on paper for Pattison, Matthews had fought for the Central Area and English titles. Ollie could have taken an easier fight but he wanted to test himself straight away on his return.
A 39-37 points win for Ollie shows that he didn’t have it all his own way in there, taking a round and a bit to get back in the swing of things in my eyes. But a powerful left hook straight combo that worked throughout the fight saw Pattison make a triumphant return and go 9-0.
Mason Smith continued his fledgling career by outpointing Naheem Chaudhry 40-36. Clearly a very talented boxer as he is a former Team GB fighter, Smith must be longing for an opponent to turn up and want to fight. Chaudhry seemed keen to only survive the rounds, clinching often to stop the classy work coming his way.
There were debut wins for Alex Ananivi and Gerome Warburton. Ananivi marked his first foray in the paid ranks with a points shut out against Genadij Krajevskij and Warburton got a TKO victory in the second against fellow debutant Celal Ozturk.
Louis Isaacs improved to 5-0 with a 59-55 points victory against Rhys Saunders and Davis Pagan returned to winning ways against Liam Griffiths after his shock KO loss last time out.