On a card crippled by cancellations and last-minute injuries, this Warrior Promotions event at York Hall nevertheless delivered the goods with some well-matched bouts in London at the weekend. Elliott Matthews, who was due to headline until a cut ruled him out with a week to go, was in attendance, as was Herol “Bomber’ Graham, who was introduced to the crowd.
Chris Kongo, whose Area title fight fell through at the 11th hour, instead kept busy over 6 rounds against Polish import Adam Grabiec. From the outset Kongo asserted his dominance, controlling the centre of the ring and peppering Grabiec with painful-looking hooks to the body. Very little came by way of return, and by the halfway mark Grabiec was starting to look a little shop-worn. More body shots in the 4th and 5th provoked spirited responses, but they came to nothing, and his only reward was to receive stiff, discouraging jabs on his way in.
The final round was a race to the bell. Kongo, heavy handed and picking his shots well, went looking for his 4th knockout in 5 contests, while Grabiec used every trick in the book to avoid being stopped; false slips, suspect knee injuries, accusations of hitting behind the head, the spitting out of his gum shield… all used to wear the clock down. Kongo managed to land big right hand in the closing stages, but the bell sounded before he could capitalise on its effects.
Pulled from the big Match Room card at Wembley, then having an Area title fight delayed will have made September a frustrating month for the Londoner. He will likely seek to end the year on a high note after moving to 10-0 this evening.
Jez Smith, brother of former WBO inter-continental champion Mitchell Smith, went 11-0-1 in impressive fashion after stopping Anthony Hardy in the 5th round of a scheduled 8. Smith started cautiously, letting Hardy dictate matters with a decent jab while he watched from the outside, zipping in the occasional body shot when he could. Things livened in the second with Hardy walking on to some mean-looking counter-rights, one of which dropped Hardy in the third. He rose unsteadily and Smith pounced, swarming him with a broad selection of shots to finish what could have been a 10-7 round.
The pattern continued in the fourth, and Hardy started to look like he was running out of ideas as counter-punches found their target as he moved forward. He landed a left hook to the body at the start of the fifth but it wasn’t enough to dissuade Smith, who was now on the front foot and looking for a finish, which he found courtesy of a big right hand that dropped Hardy to the canvas. Referee Mark Bates counted him out, and Smith now moves to title contention territory.
Two debutants produced what was possibly the fight of the night. Conor Hinds and Mac Pemhiwa went at one another in an action-filled affair, with Hinds taking the initiative in the opening round before Pemhiwa rallied to win the second. With both men getting caught, one sensed that this one may not go the distance, and on cue a big Hinds right hand following a combination sent Pemhiwa to the ropes. He covered up but was rocked several times again, prompting an early finish to a well-matched bout.
Without doubt, the shock and the knockout of the night went to tough road warrior Jan Balog, who faced the 8-1 Davis Pagan over eight. Pagan started well on the back foot, creating distance with a firm jab. Balog, however, was clearly in the mood for an upset, and stalked his man ceaselessly from the centre of the ring. Towards the end of the second round, he uncorked a howitzer overhand right, catching Pagan clean on the chin. He crumpled to the canvas in his own corner, out cold. Balog moves to 12-44-1, while a crestfallen Pagan drops to 8-2.
Former Team GB prospect Mason Smith opened his pro account with a win over the awkward Rudolf Durica, now 1-24. Even though Durica is notoriously difficult to look good against, Smith still managed to impress, punching from angles and dictating the pace. Durica, knowing he had no real answer for the incoming shots, held when he could to upset the rhythm, and even enjoyed some moments of decent inside work. But really, what got him through this match was his robust chin, as punch after punch pierced his guard and found its target. Smith rightly earned his first professional victory, and Durica rightly earned his night’s pay
Opening the show, journeyman Richard Harrison moved to 3-30 with a 40-37 points win over Haroon Karim. It was scrappy at times, but both kept one another honest in an otherwise fun affair. Karim, with another fight two weeks from now, continued his own journeyman apprenticeship, falling to 0-3.
If Denzel Bentley wanted to make a statement about being ready for sterner tests, this was it. The 6-round match against the durable Daniel Urbanski was stopped a minute into the first session after Bentley waded into him from the opening bell. A flash knockdown was followed by two more, and a barrage to the head and body called matters off before they had really begun. He is now 6-0 with 5 KOs; Urbanski is 21-25-3.
Fuaad ‘The Pirate’ Husseen made a superb entrance to the ring, standing on the deck of a fully furnished pirate ship decorated with flags, carried by several willing friends. Sadly, the cannons didn’t quite thunder in his 40-36 points victory over Lithuanian Simas Volosinas (7-79) who used the bad gelling of styles to see the rounds out relatively unscathed. Husseen nevertheless looked good behind his jab, and grew in confidence as the fight wore on. He enjoyed success to the body in the final round but couldn’t find the finish, settling instead for his fourth points win in four fights.
Alfie Price, now 3-0, won his first 6 round contest against the ever-ready Innocent Anyanwu (25-36-3), who looked in fantastic shape but couldn’t get anywhere near the 24-year-old, who picked his shots sensibly from distance in the opening two rounds. Anyanwu’s somewhat faster start to the third round had been extinguished by the fourth, and a right hand seemed to sap what remained of his enthusiasm. The remaining rounds were sparring sessions, with Price emerging as a deserved 60-54 winner.
Louis Lye began his pro career with an emphatic stoppage over the 18-69-3 Norbert Szekeres. Lye found his rhythm early, and dropped his opponent with a flash left hook at the end of the opener. Szekeres tried to force him on to the back foot in the second, but only found himself at the end of some stern counter right hands, one of which dropped him heavily for the count to rapturous applause.
A host of shutout wins-over-four completed the card. Mitchell Preedy (4-1) returned to winning ways with a win over Geiboord Omier (4-30-1), who applied pressure in the second round but ultimately found no answer for Preedy’s polished combination punching. Taran Willet moved to 3-0 with a good win over tough customer Ferenc Zsalek (21-71-6). All four rounds were great fun to watch, but comfortably went the way of the home fighter, especially the third, which saw Willet increase the deficit by a further point to walk away a 40-35 winner.
Alex Bishop moved to 2-0 thanks to a win over IvanGodor (now 20-61-4). Bishop looked sharp from the outset, but didn’t truly find his distance until the second half of the fight thanks to Godor’s awkward movement around the ring. Once he did find the range he started to unload, wobbling Godor with a left hook in the final session, resulting in a shootout at the final bell.
Our other Interviews from the event are as follows:
Verdict: A fun, interesting small hall show with varied fights producing varied results. Would have been a cracker with the title fights included.