Goodwin Boxing again put on one of their high quality cards at York Hall on Saturday night and the action in the ring didn’t disappoint. York Hall was thankfully back to it’s usual toasty feel, which helped those in attendance get over the bitter cold outside.
In the main event, Team Southpaw Jab’s Wadi Camacho faced former foe Arfan Iqbal for the vacant Commonwealth Cruiserweight title. Both men met in the ring back in July of 2017 for the then vacant English Title and it was the Derby man who came out victorious that night. Camacho didn’t have his eyes on revenge, though. He hadn’t liked the poster we designed for him because we used “Repeat or Revenge” – for Wadi this was a different fight, a new fight and he wasn’t thinking about their first meeting. Iqbal entered the ring first looking confident, his fans shared that assurance and booed Camacho when he entered the arena.
Many people had written Wadi off. Several times, in fact. Every preview had Iqbal winning again; no one gave Camacho a chance. But if you know Wadi, you know he has self believe in abundance- always out to prove everyone wrong. And prove them wrong he did.
The fight started tentatively with both men understandably not wanting to risk too much too soon. But there was already a difference from their first meeting. When they met 16 months ago Iqbal was beating Wadi to the jab, but on the night it was Camacho whose jab dictated the pace. It didn’t take long to be evident that Iqbal had one chance to win, and that was to put Camacho’s lights out. But where Camacho was open to the overhand right in their first encounter, he was ready for it this time.
Wadi covered up well when that shot even came close to landing. Throughout, Iqbal’s support cheered anything they believed was success for their man. Even when Camacho slipped on the advertising toblerone they cheered as if their man was about to win. But their moments to cheer were few and far between and it was the fans of Camacho who were enjoying the action in the ring more.
The jab was a weapon that Wadi employed frequently. Wadi has an amazing jab and should have used it more in the past. Well, he used it in this fight. Each jab landing was rocking Iqbal’s head back, bemusing and leaving him with little to no answers for the potent Camacho right. Wadi’s jab was doing enough to win him the rounds clearly, on this writer’s card, and it seemed to be the common thought of many at York Hall, too. There were, though, a few murmurs from some that Camacho needed to use his back hand to really put the exclamation mark on his dominance.
It took Iqbal having his best round of the night to force Camacho into bringing that brilliant left out. Going into the fifth Camacho was ahead on the cards and coming off his best round of the fight. Iqbal’s corner seemingly sent their man out there to try and change the tide. Contrary to their plans it wasn’t all Iqbal as Wadi worked well behind his piston jab. Iqbal was swinging for the fences. Every chance he had his overhand right was swung at Camacho. But again (and again and again) Camacho either evaded the obvious shot or covered up and rolled it to take some of the snap away.
At the half way point of the fifth Iqbal started to slow down and Camacho decided to team his piston jab with his powerful back hand, to devastating effect. He had Arfan on the canvas in the last 11 seconds of the round, the work and set up coming from the jab. Using the lead right as a weapon and a range finder, Wadi trapped Iqbal on the ropes and crashed his southpaw jab at will. The third or forth blows sent Iqbal’s head jolting back and his eyes glazing over.
Smelling blood, Camacho brought his left into the fold and landed at will, with Iqbal folding disconcertingly in two. Referee Marcus McDonnell seemingly reached the count of ten with the fight over, but as it was about to be waved off, the bell went and Iqbal was escorted back to his corner.
With the fight appearing close to done, a sign of the change in Camacho’s approach was how he took to the sixth round so professionally. The “Macho Man” of old would have waded in looking for the big shot. The old style would result either in Wadi getting a big stoppage win, or smothering his work and allowing his opponent to recover. In the worst cases, he’d be caught and hurt. This was different. This was calculated.
Wadi seemed happy to piston jab his way to success, waiting for a clear opening to pounce again just like he did in the fifth. A clear opening didn’t happen but Iqbal wasn’t only lost for ideas; he now looked very tired. The once deciding, confident overhand right was looking more and more desperate and lacklustre every time it was thrown.
The end came in the seventh. In tow with the rest of the fight- Camacho once again hurt Iqbal with the jab, but the Derby man tried to hold, to stop the onslaught coming his way. Wadi wriggled away from his opponent and as the ref went to separate the two, Iqbal fell through the ropes; a spent force. It didn’t look good at all the way he fell, with his bottom half still in the ring, his upper body out and his back bending the wrong way. A conclusive end for the spectators, if a sad one for Arfan.
Some of Iqbal’s supporters tried to get to him to give him assistance, but McDonnell ordered them away, seemingly telling them that if they touch their man he would be out of the fight. He even had to tell the doctor to leave him alone. The commotion at ringside clearly made several people lose track of what was happening in the ring. When Iqbal finally got back in the ring the fight was called off by his corner who confirmed that their man had injured his back when he fell between the ropes.
The end of the fight was marred by disgraceful scenes by so called supporters of Iqbal. Arfan Iqbal and his team were let down by these idiots. Nobody wants to see behaviour like that in our sport and if they never attend boxing again it will have been one too many. Iqbal and his team were professional to the end and the actions of their supporters did not reflect on how they had conducted themselves before, during and after the fight. A valiant effort from Iqbal, but vindication for Wadi.
Michael Ramabeletsa vs Ryan Walker – English Super-Bantamweight Championship
Not to be outdone by the Commonwealth title fight, this intriguing English title fight managed to cram all of it’s drama into two short minutes. Going into this fight Ryan Walker was the much hyped prospect from the Streetwise Management Stable, Michael Ramabeletsa the apparent “gatekeeper” – if you can beat Ramabeletsa it’s the general opinion that you are a decent fighter. This was also Ramabeletsa’s third crack at a title, having come up short in his attempt for the Commonwealth title against Ashley Lane and being unbelievably unlucky when he fought Josh Kennedy for the same English title he was contesting for against Walker, back in March of 2017.
This was Ryan Walker’s first title fight, and it didn’t take long for those in attendance to see which way this fight was going to go. Both men traded jabs from the first bell, Ramabeletsa’s was clearly the more spiteful. Quickly evident that Walker was unfortunately out of his depth. After being dropped by a right hand, Walker managed to make it to his feet and insisted he was OK to carry on. Ramabeletsa smelt blood though, and stalked the younger man around the ring, landing with will until he dropped him again.
Referee for the bout, Ian John-Lewis, allowed Walker to continue after he rose towards the end of the 10 count. It was a dangerous decision. Walker was clearly out on his feet and was only going to get hurt. It was then no surprise when John-Lewis had to jump in soon after and call a halt to the action; the next flurry of fists resulted in Walker taking more big head shots. The ecstasy and heartbreak was clear from the opposing corners, with Ramabeletsa finally winning at championship level, and Ryan Walker looking at going back to the drawing board and regrouping.
It is this writers opinion that Walker and his team shouldn’t have bypassed the Southern Area title and worked their way up through the title ladder. But then hindsight is always 20/20.
Rest of the card
The undercard was as always a stacked one when it comes to a Goodwin show- with the highlights coming in the form of big wins from Liam Dillion and Brandon Ball.
Ball secured the first stoppage victory of his fledgling professional career against Zigurds Krauklis, getting the win having targeted the body throughout. Ball dropped the bewildered Krauslis with a body shot in the third round after trapping his opponent in his own corner. Brandon showed maturity above his years with his shot selection and the body work was exceptionally good.
Krauslis made the count and managed to see out the end of the third but the writing was on the wall. The fight made it to the forth and final round, but it didn’t take long for Ball to get back to whipping spiteful shots to the midsection. Krauslis was left covering up on the ropes not able to deal with the barrage of blows raining in on him. Just before the ref could step in, Krauslis took a knee again but the bout was called off before he hit the canvas. Ball is only 21 but if he’s starting to find power to get the stoppage wins he’ll quickly climb the ranks and into title fights before long.
Liam Dillion made it 8-0 with a solid display against Michael Horabin. Horabin showed some amazing ring savvy to get himself out of trouble when the imposing Dillion was on the attack. Told off several times for low blows, Horabin had a point deducted in the third for the offence. Dillion didn’t let the fouling or ring savvy from Horabin stop his relentless pressure and on more than one occasion he tested his foe’s chin. Another young pro at 22, Dillion will continue to improve as he grows into his “man strength” and will no doubt start racking up the stoppage wins once he matures a bit more.
There were upset losses when Chris Lawrence was outpointed by Dmytro Kostenko and Mo Gharib lost to Dean Evans elsewhere on the bill. Maidstone’s Lawrence, didn’t have the work rate to keep Kostenko off him, losing the exchanges on output alone. Kostenko was winning the exchanges and the battle of power. If there’s any positive to take out of this fight for Chris Lawrence it’s his ability to take a punch.
To flip the coin, Mo Gharib’s chin was tested and failed the test. Dean Evans dropped Gharib heavily in the first with an overhand right. for the rest of the round Gharib stayed on the back foot looking to avoid the exchanges. The second round was more of an even affair with Gharib having seemingly recovered from his nightmare first round. Evans was happy to trade, knowing that he had dropped and hurt his opponent badly just the round before. In the exchanges he also found out that Gharib didn’t carry the power to trouble him.
Throwing caution to the wind, Evans went looking for Gharib and hurt him again before the end of the second. Lightning struck for the second time in the third round as Evans dropped Gharib early in the round. If there was any caution left, it went out the window and Evans went on the full offensive, looking for the stoppage. Gharib survived the rest of the fight and the ref was kind enough to score the two rounds he wasn’t dropped in his favour, which was perhaps a disservice to the work that Evans put in.
Ghraib is young enough to come back and learn from this loss, but he will have to work on his defensive skills if he is to keep his extravagant style.
There were also wins for James Costanzo, Martin Foru, Paul Greening, Hassam Ali, ID Hill and Xhuljo Vrenozi