It might be freezing out in the street as winter wraps London in its cold, but York Hall was a welcome furnace on Saturday. Fists flew as four titles were contested on Goodwin Boxing’s final show of the year, and the undercard featured a few 50/50 bouts of no less importance to their participants, all of which showed in the intensity of performances up and down the bill.
Fight of the night was a toss up between two vacant English Title fights. Linus Udofia faced Tyler Denny for the middleweight strap, while Youssef Khoumari and Liam Dillion duked it out at super featherweight. Both were thrilling encounters which offered different types of excitement.
If Dillon and Khoumari had been tied to one another with a six foot length of rope, it would have remained slack throughout their ten rounds. Dillon went on the front foot from the very start, letting his hands go with fury as Khoumari remained calm on the ropes, picking his counters beautifully and returning fire when the openings offered themselves.
One was going to tire at this pace, and the first to do so would no doubt wilt and concede the fight. Only neither did. All ten rounds were fought bravely and furiously, back and forth; it was the first of the evening’s four title fights and could not have been a more perfect way to engage the crowd.
York Hall roared at the final bell, and nobody could begrudge the majority draw decision. All three judges saw it differently: one for Dillon, one Khoumari, one draw. For me Khoumari’s crisper, more efficient work would have just nicked it, but who cares when you’ve been treated to a fight like that. Again please.
As Linus Udofia and Tyler Denny warmed to each other, their bout didn’t so much catch fire as slowly engulf itself in flames. By the end of the ten the crowd wanted more, though neither fighter could be blamed for welcoming the finish line. They gave everything.
The rounds flew by as Denny and Udofia upped the intensity, punches increasingly spiteful as they fine tuned their sights. Even though Denny is a former area champion, it was title fight novice Udofia taking rounds simply with his slickness and quality of work. He was ahead going into the final third, but knew Denny was the toughest fight of his career to date.
Denny’s record being devoid of a stoppage made it look unlikely he’d prevent Udofia from turning the screw. Paper is there to be torn apart and Tyler began to consistently find Linus up top, snapping his head back. Linus took it all well, it was costing him points though. In the eighth the unbeaten Luton man touched the canvas briefly. Referee Mark Lyson ruled a slip, but Linus was legitimately knocked down, despite any slip.
The final two rounds were astonishing action, as the warriors traded with every fume of gas left in the tank. The phantom knockdown played a part in the 95-95, 96-94, 97-93 scores which gave Linus Udofia the deserved win and the English Title. He collapsed in joy. Brilliant entertainment and both men should be incredibly proud. It would be nice to see Udofia defend a few times before moving on.
The third English Title up for grabs was Ekow Essuman’s welterweight version. The unbeaten champion travelled to London from Nottingham to defend against Curtis Felix Jr., a man also with no knowledge of losing.
For all of Felix’s flashy movement, it was largely bombastic rather than effective. Not without his moments, Curtis was slowly broken down by the deceptively effective, clever and determined Essuman. By the sixth Felix was in trouble, he held for the entire seventh until being dropped on the bell and there were no complaints when he collapsed on his face in the eighth. Fight over.
Ekow Essuman returned to the Midlands still champion and looking upwards, he is quietly dangerous. Felix needs to rebuild, perhaps at area level to attain a leather bargaining chip.
Peter Mirga is only twenty two but even he can not be so naive as to have really thought he had beaten Ryan Walker for the Southern Area Super Bantamweight Title. On the final bell the Pole who resides in Essex celebrated towards his fans as if he’d won. That’s not an unusual facade for a fighter who knows they’re on the wrong end of the cards, that he kept it up long after being handed a kind 97-93 loss smacked of delusion.
His fans were worse, atrociously rude and aggressive. Team Mirga need to have a long hard look inwards, hopefully they and their supporters will learn.
Ryan Walker should be proud of his victory. As the shorter man he did everything right to beat a taller boxer with greater reach. Double jabbing his way into range with intent, Walker acknowledged the fact that for most of the fight Mirga only threw straight one-twos and mixed his work up, baffling the shell shocked looking Pole. There was only one round you could have made a case for the loser in my opinion. Walker wins wide.
Jumanne Camero caused an emotional Justin Menzie to retire after a round. Afterwards Menzie revealed to the crowd that his mother passed away recently. It is a terrible loss and Southpaw Jab send their love to him and his family- boxers go through an awful lot to entertain us and Menzie embodied that on Saturday.
That should take nothing away from Camero, though, who won fair and square.
An interesting bout between Darrell Church and Dominic Felix was another where two fighters with winning records met with nothing more than pride at stake. Although scrappy in places, it was competitive and Felix took a 56-58 victory on Ian John Lewis’s card.
Ellis Zoro beat Dmitrij Kalinovskij, Tom Ansell beat Carl Turney, Dana Zaxo beat Darryl Sharp, Denis Denikajev beat Lee Connelly, Liam Shinkwin beat Jamie Speight, Jordan Dujon beat Paul Cummings, Mo Gharib beat Lee Devine & Dalton Miller beat Duane Green – all of these wins were on points.