Joe Joyce summed it up perfectly in the post fight conference, following his blink and you’ll miss it felling of American giant Donnie Palmer. Palmer had said all the right things in the build up, and at six feet ten inches looked imposing; if fleshy. Joyce cannot be his stated six feet six, though. The man is giant, solid muscle and was a dangerous mix of limber and powerful in the ring. His fight ending overhand right in round one was the best of his pro career so far. Joyce said of it, “I was looking to work the body, but I saw his head there so I threw the right hand.”
Only three professional fights in, Joyce, who was a European gold and Olympic silver medallist in the amateurs, and competed in the “semi pro” World Series Boxing, is ready to move up in class. All three victims, including the tough Ian Lewison, have been stopped by the Londoner. Dereck Chisora, who is becoming something of a barometer for rising talent’s ability, is directly in the sights of Joyce. Promoter David Haye is also keen to make the fight,“He said he’ll fight if the money is right: myself and Eddie Hearn have put a package together which is more than the last fight he had and the fight he’s having next week put together. So he’s got no excuse.”
Blackpool’s Matty Askin promised Southpaw Jab that Edinburgh’s Stephen Simmons would be hitting the canvas in their fight, and he emphatically delivered on that. The co-main event was for the British cruiserweight title which Askin is now touching distance from owning outright. The beautiful Lord Lonsdale belt is a prize most UK fighters aspire to win, and Askins’ brutal shot to Simmons’ solar plexus in round two was a superb finisher. The fight with Simmons followed three victories over undefeated fighters, and it is hugely exciting to see where Matty goes from here; particularly with Luke Watkins and Lawrence Okolie sat watching his win.
Hayemaker Ringstar and Goodwin Boxing had worked together for the card, and it was a disjointed show because of the waits to fit TV slots and the numerous early finishes. It’s part of the game, that must be understood, and they did their best to keep the fans entertained. Also doing his best was Mark Little, in the fight of the night against Croatian Tomislav Rudin. Little started aggressively, thrusting a powerful jab out, which was backended with brutal rights which followed. Towards the end of the first Rudin took a clever knee, as he was close to being halted. It proved wise.
The knee was smart, and the Croatian team had more tricks up their sleeve, although Little’s onslaught in the second saw every trick in the boxing survival book employed by Tomislav. It looked unimaginable that the cunning Croat would see the final bell, such was Little’s pressure and power. Until, in the third, a combination at the end of the round dropped Mark heavily; not quite saved by the bell. Being given a count during the break, Mark recuperated, but by how much was the question. Little came out for the fourth aware this was now a proper fight, but so did Rudin, who has caused upsets in the UK before.
The men went toe to toe and Robert Cukusic in the away corner gave visible, impactful instructions to his man who had Mark hurt again. However, Little rallied back, his powers of recovery impeccable, given how game the opponent was and what was landing. He then almost stopped Rudin, it a was flip of a coin tear up. The York Hall crowd were engrossed by the final bell. As the four, three minute rounds drew to a close, it was almost impossible to score. Unbeaten, popular Little got the result 38-37, and will no doubt have breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement. What he’ll learn going forwards is invaluable. It was a hard, close, brilliant fight.
Another unbeaten fighter, one of eight with perfect records at the show’s beginning, was Linus Udofia. The man from Luton was dressed in shorts which can best described as gladiatorial, and he came to fight. Always one to look smart, the middleweight’s boxing matched his outfit. Linus opened light on his feet, showing head and foot movement which will serve him well long term. However as he pivoted, spun and confused opponent Geraint Goodridge, one could only think Udofia’s skills were impressive, but wasted at this level.
Punch perfect against Geraint, Udofia is surely ready for a title shot; and he recently told Southpaw Jab he’d like the Southern Area. As he went through the gears and made Goodridge regret where he was, it was hard not to look to the future, too. Linus’s shot selection, a boxing brain, knowing when to turn the screw mixed with a winning combination of gracefulness and spite, broke Geraint in the third. Linus looks to the future, and you should look out for him.
Steve Goodwin and team had clearly worked their socks off for the undercard, which was packed, but in a contrary way upset by many early finishes. It’s never possible to know how an evening’s boxing will pan out, and the early finishes contributed to a good night of boxing, but one which was disjointed for the present spectators. In the interests of fairness, this writer had a few issues with the crowd, but that was not to do with the boxing, and will come later.
Ruqsana Begum, the former women’s world Muai Thai champion, made her professional debut on the card. Championed by David Haye, the stoic champion of women’s rights and proud Muslim brought a legion of fans. It made for a nice atmosphere at the usually less diverse York Hall. A bizarre mix up before the first bell meant her opponent, Ivanka Ivanova, had to go back to the dressing room to put a cup (groin protector) in.
Whether the break put Begum, who seems to be a perfect ambassador for the sport, off, remains to be seen. Her debut was scrappy, laden with rookie errors and ended a draw. She had probably done enough to earn a slight decision, but it was not eye pleasing. No doubt Begum will improve, she has a history of success in combat sports, and seemed post fight to be determined and not someone to be taken lightly.
Daniel Medes opened the the night with a close points win, having got sat down heavily in the first round. His opponent Grigor Karastoyanov then fancied the fight, and made Daniel’s 38-37 win all the more to his credit. Another boxer dropped in the first round was Rikke Askew. Darrel Church had Rikke’s number from first bell, and put him down hurtfully a second time soon after, atwhich point the towel was thrown in. The referee (who’s name we will find and publish) chose to ignore both the towel and Askew’s corner desperately screaming for the end of the fight. Allowing the fight, which was obviously over, to continue, the referee allowed Rikke to be dropped even harder.
Askew’s plight was awful to see, and Southpaw Jab will be right behind any complaint his team chose to make to the BBBofC. It’ll be called an oversight, but it wasn’t, it was lazy, dangerous officiating which caused a boxer, an entertainer, to be needlessly hurt. It was not something nice to see. In a sea of cries for change, the board seems resolutely quiet on new ideas. It’ll hurt the sport, and much worse, it will hurt our beloved fighters. Speak up Board, act: now.
The other fights arranged to entertain the crowd were Youssef Koumari’s 40-46 shutout points win over Josh Thorne. Calum Ide made Adi Burden look not ready to move past where he is just yet, but somehow dropped to a too wide 40-37 decision. Dan Dan Keenan was well supported, and well busted up by unfancied Ilian Markov in their fight, though the Londoner showed grit and skill to take a 39-38 decision. “Uncle T” Tunji Ogunniya was well supported, but not by his opponent Konstantin Alexandro, who quit on his stool after a round.
With thanks to T & M TV https://twitter.com/TN_TV_Prodb & all those who submitted pictures.