By Steven Bateson
Jack Catterall secured a unanimous verdict over Ohara Davies, successfully defending his WBO Intercontinental Super Lightweight Championship in Leicester on Saturday night.
It was a very tentative, drab affair throughout and won’t live too long in the memory, both men opting to air on the side of caution rather than go all guns blazing in order to secure a definitive victory.
The rounds were close with both fighters relying on their jabs, Catterall heading more for the body whilst Davies attempted to negate the southpaw stance of his foe by jabbing over the top with his long arms.
Catterall did score a stiff left hook from range as Davies squared up in the second but soon they were back to swapping jabs, struggling to settle into a rhythm. The pre-fight talk was about the power Davies possesses in his right hand but he seemed unwilling to chance it despite having it cocked at all times.
The pair swapped left hands in the third but they were back to treading water in the fourth as the crowd lost a little patience with the lack of action. Davies was constantly standing on Catterall’s foot, restricting his movement, however the referee never once spoke to the Londoner about that infringement.
Jack Catterall used his right hand better in the fifth and it opened the door for him to land three clean left hooks throughout the three minutes before another solid left in the sixth momentarily stiffened Davies’ legs, the first meaningful punch of the entire fight.
For two men on the cusp of world level it was dull and far too cagey, there was far too much respect and not enough action for a bout that was billed as a headline act. Davies didn’t let his right go once until the ninth and even then it was a glancing shot whilst Catterall continued to circle around and jab to the body before scoring with the occasional left hand whilst Davies tried to duck out of range.
The rounds were close more due to the minimal action rather than non-stop fighting but the more memorable, telling shots were coming from the Chorley man. Davies had no foothold in the fight, he did nothing to swing momentum in his favour and when he watches the action back he is going to wonder exactly why he chose to keep his most potent weapon unloaded.
It was a little disappointing, given the billing, but for Catterall it will now be onward toward a potential showdown with WBO Champion, Maurice Hooker. He may be wise to take one fringe level test before that fight can be made whilst Ohara Davies needs to head back to the drawing board and figure out exactly where he fits in at 140lbs.
Scorecards read: 118-110 (too wide), 115-113 x2
Archie Sharp took the WBO European Super Feather Title from Leon Woodstock in the fight of the night.
Sharp was on point from the opening bell, displaying lightning quick hands, and then a sharp left hook opened a cut under Woodstock’s right eye. Woodstock was bombing forward but got caught again by a left hook through the middle of his guard that dumped him on the seat of his pants for an eight count, he wasn’t hurt badly but found himself already at a points disadvantage.
Woodstock came out looking to swing the fight back in his favour in the second but was drilled by left hooks as he tried to bob in. Sharp was showing off impressive footwork and slick movement as he evaded the big overhand right and then sank an uppercut through Woodstock’s guard as he continued to career forward.
Woodstock was looking for that one big shot time and again and although he found a home for it in the third it didn’t even stun Sharp, who was then able to counter with more impressive and eye-catching combinations as he bounced off the ropes. Sharp was bamboozling Woodstock with his movement, speed of hand and crisper punch output.
Sharp started whipping in the hooks to the body through the middle rounds and although Woodstock was the one pressing the action it was Sharp landing the punches and countering his man at every turn. Woodstock was attempting to swarm his man and turn it into a dogfight but even when Sharp obliged him it was the Kent man with the better variety.
Woodstock scored a big right hand in the sixth but it still didn’t move Sharp, who fired back with blows of his own and then mockingly willed his opponent to indulge him in a firefight. Woodstock didn’t need telling twice and continued to press but he was being beaten to the punch, forced to sustain constant damage and punishment.
Sharp seemed to be tiring slightly at the beginning of the ninth as Woodstock continued the high octane pursuit but then the challenger roared back with a right hand that briefly had Woodstock taking a backward step. Sharp then began to tee off on his man and Woodstock was looking forlorn and battered, although there wasn’t an ounce of quit in him.
It was a barnburning finish as Woodstock chased the knockdowns or knockout that he so desperately needed, ripping shots to the body on the ropes, but Sharp wouldn’t allow him any kind of control as he answered back every shot with a combination of his own. Sharp ended proceedings with some devastating right hands but Woodstock took him and stood his ground, a testament to his guts and courage. The fans were on their feet and applauding both men’s effort as the final bell sounded.
It was a terrific advert for boxing and both men left everything in the ring. They deserve credit for taking this bout as undefeated warriors and they will both come again. The domestic Super Feather division is full of talent and both men will be challenge for anybody in that category, a re-match down the line wouldn’t go amiss.
Scorecards read: 96-93 x 3
Daniel Dubois continued his rise but was forced to go the distance for the first time in his career with a domineering victory over the veteran Kevin Johnson.
Dubois (now 9-0 with 8 KO’s) stated his intent from the opening bell with a stiff jab and a relentless flurry to head and body whilst Johnson attempted to tuck up on the ropes. It was survival mode from Johnson, as we have become accustomed to seeing from the American, as he used his unorthodox guard to absorb the onslaught that was being put on him.
The rounds followed a similar pattern with Johnson content to throw a jab a round whilst Dubois pummelled him back onto the ropes and attempted to penetrate the frustrating defence. Dubois did clip his man with a solid left in the second and a big right hand but Johnson was able to withstand it and continued to withdraw into his shell.
Dubois may have been better suited hitting the body of his ageing foe, Johnson was blowing after two, but all too often seemed happy to try and bombard his way through the hands of the American. In the fourth Dubois did have a little more success with stiff right hands around the side of Johnson’s guard but still nothing to buckle the legs; the veteran settling into the kind of pattern that has frustrated many a foe in years gone by.
Johnson continued to throw little to nothing, somehow he’s made a career off of that, as Dubois stalked him and tried to find the heavy artillery to finally send his man packing. Johnson did momentarily drop his hands in the eighth and a huge right hand had him rocking but he was soon back into retreat mode, unwilling to allow any more free shots at his chin.
Dubois trapped his man on the ropes in the ninth and thundered in crunching uppercuts, whipping Johnson’s head back, but he could not find the opening he needed and had to settle for a points victory over the durable but uninspiring American.
It is a good learning curve for Dubois, who has been expected to walk through every opponent thus far, and it will stand him in greater stead for tougher tests down the line. Every now and again he was guilty of smothering his own work, not using the jab enough to set up his attacks, and perhaps a little more punch variety may have opened the kind of doors needed to put Johnson away inside the distance.
There will be comparisons with Anthony Joshua, who bombed out Johnson in two during his 13th bout, because that is the nature of the business but it must not be forgotten that Dubois is only 21 years old and he completely dominated a 44 fight pro. Dubois is heading for double figures by the end of the year and now is the time for his team to start directing him toward domestic honours, he needs tests but nothing too steep, too soon.
Referee’s scorecard read: 100-91
Nicola Adams is on the cusp of professional greatness as she captured the interim WBO Flyweight Championship, in only her fifth fight, with a unanimous decision against Isabel Millan.
Adams, a double Olympic champion, was dominant from the opening bell until the finishing sequence, although at times a little guilty of complacency against an opponent who offered very little in competitiveness which was reflected in scorecards a lot closer than they should have been.
Adams (now 5-0 with 3 KO’s) was using the jab from the outset whilst displaying tremendous footwork to bob in and out of attacks before hammering home the solid right hand that already had Millan’s face reddened by the end of the opening round. Millan was cutting a frustrated figure by the second and Adams was smiling at her foe as she evaded attacks and then continued to punish on the counter.
Millan had a little more success in the third and fourth as Adams threw caution to the wind and swapped hooks with her more experienced opponent, perhaps naively believing that she could just bomb the tough Mexican out of there, luckily the visitor was unable to land anything that would trouble the decorated amateur star. Adams’ defence was a little lax and against a heavier handed foe she could have been made to pay.
Millan may argue she should have had a knockdown in the fifth as she landed a glancing shot as Adams slipped, the referee ruled it no knockdown but there was contact and in other contests that may have been given as a 10-8, something Adams needs to consider when it comes to trading off with her opposition for no reason. Adams then got back to her boxing and frequently snapped Millan’s head back with explosive lead right hands before following in with sharp hooks. Millan continued to press the action, undaunted, but wasn’t producing enough to be considered for any rounds on the board.
The Mexican visitor wasn’t willing to go down without a fight and even landed two sharp uppercuts in close during the ninth stanza but Adams kept on her toes, showing great ring craft, and countered at every available opportunity. Adams punctuated her dominance in the tenth with two ferocious left hooks that finally stiffened Millan’s legs, although the Mexican was able to hold on to the final bell.
Millan’s best attribute is undoubtedly her resilience, she withstood some heavy weather from Adams, only one moment when she was stunned or staggered by what was coming her way in the tenth and final. Adams was superior in every department, she didn’t lose a round, but when she watches this back she may believe she should have shined a whole lot brighter given the platform, she made this fight more difficult than it had to be.
Truth be told Millan’s boxing ability was far from stellar, it’s amazing to believe she’d amassed 22-4-1 record, but Adams allowed her to land punches in a fight where hypothetically she should have landed nothing. It may be that Adams took her foot off the gas when she realised there was no threat but she can’t afford those kind of lapses at this level because there will be competitors who take advantage of those indiscretions.
It has to be the full WBO Champion Arely Mucino next up for Adams, her team must endeavour to make that a reality either by the year’s end or early 2019. Adams is head and shoulders above most, if not all, at Flyweight and in theory could be looking at unifications by summertime next year.
Scorecards read: 96-94, 97-93 x2
British Super Featherweight Champ, Sam Bowen added the WBO Intercontinental strap to his collection with a fourth round stoppage victory over the rugged Horacio Cabral.
Bowen (now 14-0 with 10 KO’s) was perhaps a little tense at times, loading up a little too much and forcing his work, but he was always in control of proceedings and began to assert himself a lot more as the bout progressed.
The Argentine, Cabral, was trying to be elusive as both men opted to fight in close but more often than not he was outmuscled by Bowen and forced back toward the ropes where Bowen was able to produce his best work as he pounded away to the body with hurtful hooks.
Cabral was trying to keep a high guard in close and was scoring his own shots whilst both men exchanged in the phonebooth but Bowen was firing off warning shots as he launched uppercuts up the middle and rocked Cabral’s head back.
Bowen began to up the pace in the fourth, hunting his man with intent, and hammered away to the body at every opportunity. Cabral was trying to stay strong but was beginning to feel the shots, trying to move away from the oncoming attacks, only for Bowen to leap forward and sink in a crunching left hook to the body that left his man in agony on the canvass for the ten count.
The domestic Super Featherweight division is currently brimming with talent and Bowen has some exceptional defences ahead of him, he’s definitely one to watch and takes a world ranking with this victory.