‘Top boxer’ puts British super middleweights on notice
When Umar Sadiq and Kody Davies stepped into the ring at York Hall last night, more than one ringside observer remarked that they looked “massive” for super middleweights. They did. The boxers were big at the weight, but the occasion was bigger and both men knew it. The British Title eliminator was a huge chance for both fighters.
At a glance you’d have thought it was a light heavyweight contest and indeed, Davies had just moved down a division, having previously campaigned as a light-heavy. That weight-cut was, seemingly, to prove hugely important in the course of the fight, as Sadiq – who made the weight far easier – seemed to have much more fuel in the tank in the fight’s latter stages.
However, in the opening couple of rounds it was the Welshman, Davies, who came on strong. The Londoner, nicknamed ‘Top Boxer’, even looked ever-so-slightly nervous by comparison. He found his back to the ropes a couple of times in the opening round too, as his opposite number looked to unload combinations in close.
Sadiq controlled his range better in the second round though and, on my score card at least, just edged that stanza, before losing the third and fourth.
Four rounds in, I had Davies 3-1 up. The Welshman was landing the more hurtful shots. While Sadiq was competitive in every exchange, his shots didn’t seem to be landing as heavily.
As the pair came out for the fifth, the fight’s biggest power shift seemed to take place. Davies’ pace slowed as the round progressed and the stinging power, that had been evident in his work in the first four rounds, suddenly seemed to fade.
Was this a result of the weight cut? It certainly looks the most likely cause. Davies looked slightly drawn at the weigh ins, as Umar Sadiq was keen to point out. Doing so, in fact, was reportedly what caused the minor altercation between the two the day before the fight.
Both men looked a little weathered going into the fifth round, but it was Sadiq that responded positively, while his opposite number faded markedly. Davies was less aggressive and his work rate dropped.
Sadiq, now having warmed to his task, capitalised on Davies lull fantastically well – upping his own punch output and using his footwork, and range, to prevent Davies from regaining the upper hand.
That was the pattern for much of the rest of the fight. The seventh round saw Sadiq execute some particularly punishing body-work, but ship a couple of hard shots in close as a result.
With his coach constantly reminding him to “work behind the jab!” Sadiq did so at times, but was occasionally tempted in close, to try hurt his man. In the eighth Davies gambled on a hell-for-leather assault but seemingly used up his last reserves of energy in doing so.
Sadiq cruised through the last couple of rounds but gave his fans a small scare in the last, taking a potentially game-changing shot right on the final bell. Too late for Davies, Sadiq’s work was done.
My scorecard had Sadiq winning 96-94. As did Marcus McDonnel’s (admittedly far more important) card. The other two judges awarded the victory by even wider margins, 98-92 and 97-93.
Ultimately, it was a mature performance from ‘Top Boxer’. As soon as Davies pace dipped, the Londoner stepped up and showed a great engine. The ninth round was probably the best example of his dominance.
In the Welsh camp, fans and team-members will no doubt have to re-examine how Kody Davies cut the weight. Can he make super-middleweight and perform? Was the dip in his energy levels thanks to his weight cut, or to Sadiq’s own work rate?
Whatever the cause, Sadiq deserves plenty of praise for a fantastic performance. Meanwhile, Davies is sure to come again. It will be interesting to hear his comments, when the dust has settled, on his weight management.