Last Friday night’s MTK show at York Hall saw an engaging and competitive main event for the vacant WBO European Welterweight Title, and a few prospects making statements on the undercard.
An impressive performance meant Freddy Kiwitt became the WBO European Welterweight champion, having appeared all at sea in the early rounds. Paddy Gallagher, in the blue corner, had come out in an Iron Man mask. He quickly began robotically walking down Kiwitt- who boxed off the ropes and was having some success doing so until on the bell Paddy planted a right on him.
Kiwitt seemed steady going back to his corner, but clearly was not and Gallagher turned the screw confidently in the second. Kiwitt’s occasional score with a left hook then slipping was not enough to take the rounds. This pattern continued, as the Belfast man went in search of his tenth career stoppage win. Paddy’s high work rate, while predictable, completely flummoxed Freddy- who continued to land singles and move off as best he could, looking shaken.
The tide turned in the fifth, returning Kiwitt to unsteady shores. Suddenly thoguh Gallagher was in deep water as a left hook, the punch Kiwitt had been relying on to survive so far, sent him to the canvas. A 10-8 round opened up the contest, and Gallagher. Freddy capitalised, letting his hands go with venom in the sixth. Paddy was rocking but firing back, however the red corner smelled claret, loudly signalling to their man to go for the kill.
Kiwitt seemed to have Gallagher’s number after that. Hurt again and trapped on the ropes, Paddy was swinging for the fences, desperate to land something to reverse the momentum. It never came, and he was down again in the eighth. In a moment of success Gallagher had been ripping in bodyshots as Kiwitt was backed up, but it unravelled as he walked on to a shot, touching down.
Gallagher complained it was a slip, but it looked like a legitimate knockdown, and besides he had spent the entire fight wetting the canvas with his saliva. Even if it was a slip, it was hard to feel sorry for him. You wet your bed, now slip on it. To his credit, Paddy refused to give up, but had nothing different to offer except a more desperately brave work rate.
Gallagher had his moments, particularly in the final round, but the three judges returned scores of 93-95, 95-95 and 94-95, giving Kiwitt a majority decision and the WBO European Title. This writer had it wider in favour of the away fighter Freddy, 92-96. An impressive centrepiece for the show.
Lewisham’s unbeaten Dan Azeez started fast and finished Stanislav Eschner early. The six round light heavyweight contest between two men of contrasting shapes and ability was an exemplary performance by Azeez. He ducked under the much taller, upright Eschner’s wild swings, using wonderfully fluid head movement to get in range and let his shots go.
Eschner was down in the third, ruled a slip, but he looked shaken by it and orthodox Azeez picked his shots beautifully. Dan does everything well, and when he staggered Stanislav in the fifth, moved in toot suite to force a stoppage at 1:58 of the round. Azeez, like his Lewisham light-heavy counterpart Andre Sterling, should be looking to move fairly quickly up the rankings.
In only his second professional fight, Slough middleweight Josh Adewale made mincemeat of tricky, unpredictable Victor Edagha. After a careful start, Josh found his distance and stuck it on his foe, who used every trick in his repertoire to somehow, luckily, make it to the final bell. Down several times, Edagha has seldom looked so uncomfortable. A 40-33 card was testament to Adewale’s superiority.
Fighting at super welterweight, Liam Wells moved to four wins no losses, making short work of Manchester’s Sam Omidi. Switch hitting, Wells landed a powerful right which wobbled Omidi, and followed it up with a barrage. Omidi was sagging on the ropes as it was halted at 2:59 of the first. The defeat inflicted on Omidi was not the only pain Wells dished out. His bizarre ring walk music, a mix of Walking in the Air and Smooth Criminal, had the crowd wondering if the sound man had gone mad.
Former Southern Area Super Lightweight champion Siar Ozgul made his comeback from two straight defeats. His latter loss came at the hands of Viktor Postol, who he went ten rounds with in Glasgow last November; commendable even in defeat. Ozgul’s opponent over eight was Chris Adaway– ever game, tough and amusingly celebrated every clean shot he landed. A clear 80-73 win for the Turk based in Hackney did not distract from his apparent lack of a Plan B.
Two Kazakhs on the bill were dominant. Both in the home corner and both southpaw, Nurtas Azhbenov (sporting a spectacular ring-walk robe) and compatriot Sultan Zaurbek beat Reynaldo Cajina and Lyuben Todorov respectively. Super lightweight Azhbenov took a four round decision 40-36 over Cajina and Zaurbek did slightly better. He dropped then halted Todorov, down for a third time and on his knee wanting no more.
Donovan Mortlock had Ladislav Nemeth down twice in their four round middleweight clash. Switch hitting and looking a little stiff, Mortlock was only in his second fight and should be pleased with a 40-34.
After a two year absence from the ring due to injury, Billy Underwood looked sharp in the first of a four round super middleweight bout. Switch hitting, though perhaps due to the shoulder injury, Underwood’s snap deserted him and winless Bryn Wain looked to capitalise. Underwood’s better schooling and skill meant he got a 39-37 win.
Despite success with flurries against Dylan Draper, welterweight Jack Ewbank, would stand back and allow the durable journeyman room to breathe. Yet another switch hitter, Ewbank has the requisite tools to move on, dropping Draper en route to a 40-35 win.
Two Riflemen met on the bill to swap bombs, debutante Michael Elliot, who is still serving, faced road warrior fan favourite Lewis van Poetsch. Neither backed down in a close quarters combat affair which saw Elliot share one round for a 40-37 win.
Well supported Huzaifah Iqbal will need to up his output in future, despite winning his debut fight 39-37. Gianni Antoh, also in his first paid contest, looked bored throughout.
This was an impressive, glitzy looking MTK Global event; few outfits dress York Hall up so well. Some clear talent was on display and it boasted a wonderful main event. The incessant switch hitting is a disconcerting trend as more often than not it is ineffective, but it will only hurt the fighters in the end. Regardless, fans went home happy, and that’s what the business is about.
Interviews: Chris Waddams
All pictures by Unknown Boxers (@unknown_boxers) on behalf of MTK Global (@MTKGlobal)