While many eyes were on the WBSS card up in Scotland, British Warriors put on a very decent card at the Mecca of British Boxing; York Hall. With two tasty title fights which would not have been amiss on a televised card, it’s no surprise that York Hall was again bouncing.
In the main event of the night, Jay Harris made the first defence of his Commonwealth Flyweight Title against Ross Murray. The action started fast with Murray trying to take the centre of the ring against the highly skilled Harris, swinging his overhand right regularly to put Harris on the back foot. Harris, on the other hand, worked well behind his spiteful jab. York Hall was uncharacteristically cool on Saturday night, but the action in the second stanza was scorching enough to keep everyone’s minds off the cold.
Having picked up a cut at the end of the first round, Harris started to apply more pressure to the game but now obviously overmatched Murray. This pressure paid off when he dropped Murray with a vicious rib shot that had the Scot screaming as he hit the canvas. Remarkably Murray made it to his feet to continue, and was saved from any more punishment for the time being when the bell to signal the end of the round went.
It was only a minute respite for Murray, as Harris started the third the way he finished the second, combining speed with ferocious power to force Murray to the canvas again. Sensing the end was near, and Murray showing unbelievable courage to try and stand and trade, but the punishment was relentless from the oncoming Harris. Trapped against the ropes and not able to find an answer for the Welshman’s speed, power and variety of shot selection, Murray was saved from any further punishment when the ref stepped in.
The fight of the night was the 10 round, crowd pleasing bout between Andre Sterling and Kirk Garvey for the vacant Southern Area Light-Heavyweight title. Garvey has been forced to be very patient for this eventual title shot, having been called the mandatory challenger over a year ago but subsequent fights falling through. Sterling, however, hadn’t read the script. After a very cagey opening round where both men had mild success with their jabs, the handbrakes came off. This was a real pick-em, scoring depended on what you preferred: Garvey’s cleaner shots or Sterling’s relentless aggression and body work. Both athlete’s respective fans were on their feet for the majority of this small hall classic, cheering any success that their favoured fighter had.
The bout really opened up in the fourth and fifth rounds. Garvey’s clean work and Sterling’s relentless aggression kept both fan bases on the edge of their seats. The sixth was quieter than the previous two rounds, but still had more action than 90% of other fights. The round did have one of the biggest talking points, when Garvey and his fans thought Sterling had been hurt. If he had been, he showed brilliant powers of recovery- and Garvey couldn’t capitalise on his good work. The seventh was the scruffiest of the fight but had one highlight when both men traded left hooks in the centre of the ring.
Sterling started the eighth ferociously, as Garvey seemingly caught his breath. Working the body and head well for the first two minutes of the round. like clockwork, Garvey came alive in the final minute of the round and clearly stunned his aggressive opponent, forcing him to finally take a backwards step. Garvey tried to capitalise on his success but Sterling managed to dance away for the remainder of the round.
In a case of role reversal, Garvey started the ninth the way he finished the eighth. But if Sterling had been hurt he wasn’t now. Garvey started fast, but finished the round slow allowing Sterling to take control of the round mid way through. The ninth also saw Sterling warned for punching on a “stop boxing” command, but one could forgive him for not hearing the ref over the noise in York Hall.
The tenth went according to the script of the fight – the cleaner work coming from Garvey, but Sterling having the higher work rate.
At the final bell both sets of fans cheered their fighter, each believing their man had done enough to win; but it was down to the referee’s score card. Andre Sterling won with a 96-94 points victory. Garvey, looking deflated at the result, made a quick exit from the ring and to the changing rooms while the new Southern Area Light-Heavyweight champion Andre Sterling celebrated with his team, friends and family.
It’s this writer’s opinion that in a very close fight the correct fighter won. Garvey did land the cleaner work but seemed to admire his good work too much rather than try and capitalise to clearly win the rounds and eventually the fight. He could argue that Sterling spoiled, but if he did, he did so and added his own effective work on top of it. Both should be commended for playing their part in a small hall cracker.
Photo By Scott Rawsthorne / @unknown_boxers
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