Team Southpaw Jab’s “Hollywood” Joshua Ejakpovi was aiming to avenge his only loss in Greenwich last night. Ultimate Boxxer 5 gave him that shot and so much more. Once upon a time Sean Robinson bested Hollywood for the Southern Area Title; reaching the final would have meant the possibility of beating the only man to have defeated him as a pro.
Indigo at the O2 hosted and Hollywood had high hopes, beginning in brutal fashion. Kaan Hawes, dropping down from middleweight after a loss to future British Title challenger Kieron Conway in the same competition at that weight, was his quarter final foe. Josh wasted no time, walking Hawes on to almost every southpaw left he threw. Paulie Malignaggi said in the coverage that when Josh missed it was because Josh missed, not because Kaan had avoided the shot.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Using fleet of foot and sitting down on his punches more than usual Ejakpovi had Hawes down heavy in the first, then down again in the second with the same shot. Hawes was a bloody, stubborn mess by the end of the third and final round.
Hollywood didn’t change his tactics because he didn’t need to, two 10-8 rounds meant a wide unanimous decision win. Hawes showed he has stones, it was hard not to feel for him; at no point ready to quit, Kaan just couldn’t mix it up enough.
Ultimate Boxxer is a concept designed to shoot talent from smaller halls to the fairy tale end of the paid trade, even if only briefly. Here lay Josh’s shot at that dream. Others lust for the same mystical success, and next up Josh had to shoot down Lenny Fuller, a man who had ruined Kingsley Egbunike inside a minute of the first round of their quarter final.
Fuller was fresh, really fresh, from that win. He’d showed a scary killer instinct and was intent on showcasing it, adhered to his vast reserves of energy, to Hollywood. Auditioning for a role eight men entered the evening wanting. Although a come forward fighter like Hawes, Fuller was instantly more intelligent than him. Lenny was so busy from the first bell I was sighing and disappointed, but gave him the round. Then Josh went down at the three minute mark.
Now let’s be clear here, it wasn’t a knockdown. Or rather, before the pedants come at me, it shouldn’t have been a knockdown, but was scored as one. I would love to hear you thoughts on it. Or rather Chris will because I hate Twitter. But do get at us…
The second round was much of the same, Josh was was never hurt but was never winning either, waiting for Fuller to make a mistake he never did. Raiding in and then out of the Team Southpaw Jab man’s territory with conviction. It was hard to watch from my perspective, but I gave Fuller the second, too. I wasn’t the only one.
Told by trainer Richard “the Secret” Williams between two and three that he needed to knock Lenny out in the third, Hollywood seemed to wait for a mistake which never looked like coming. I know for a fact that Josh can bang, but he needed to press and his style doesn’t do high intensity pressure. Fuller knew he was three rounds up after two rounds thanks to the knockdown and didn’t need to risk a thing.
Hollywood never got the chance he desired and lost 30-26 on every card. Although Fuller didn’t land as clean and clearly as the commentary made out, it was, upsettingly, a fair score.
Hollywood had high hopes, but Ultimate Boxxer sadly had a Grimm end for him.
It’s a dangerous format for fighters, but risk versus reward is what boxing all about, it’s just that Ultimate Boxxer boils that alchemy in to one night. Exciting, but it is a short story, not a long game. Losing does not spell the end by any means, and Hollywood showed his athletic panache and power. There will be more to come, more dreams to chase. Team Southpaw Jab will be right behind Josh, here’s to Hollywood’s night out in Greenwich.
Former Olympian and (oddly for these types of tournament) favourite, Steven Donnelly was Ultimate victor- beating Fuller via second round TKO in the final. He’d opened his night with a first round TKO of Ish O’Connor*. Donnelly had brutalised O’Connor to the body before finishing the fight with a straight lead left.
Donnelly, already a man with canny pro skill, had also passed Sean Robinson in the semi final. Robinson gave the winner his worst three minutes of the night. The evening’s champion looks like a very, very exciting prospect. Rather than, a la Prizefighter, a professional pugilist on the wane reaching for a last payday, in him Ultimate Boxxer has served up one for the future.
*Team Southpaw Jab’s Aaron Collins sadly had to drop out of Ultimate Boxxer 5 late on and was replaced by Ish O’Connor