By Steven Bateson
Tyson Fury is back with a fourth round stoppage over Albania’s Sefer Seferi in front of a packed out Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
It has been two and a half years since Fury’s last fight, where he won the Heavyweight Championship of the World, and since then he has gone on an incredible personal journey. This was more a celebration of what Fury has come back from and the weight he has lost but boxing fans will hope next time he is in the ring it will be in a meaningful fight and not the circus sideshow we were forced to endure this evening.
There were slight glimpses of Fury’s speed and footwork but mixed together with far too much showboating from Fury and some quite laughable antics from both fighters. Fans paid money to watch this and quite frankly it was appalling; hopefully it is quickly addressed with his next outing. A fight broke out in the crowd during the second round and both fighters actually stopped to watch, that should tell you just how shambolic this event really was.
Seferi was a nothing opponent, a career Cruiserweight, and could not even reach high enough to land a punch on Fury’s chin. Fury, when he wasn’t busy clowning around, landed a couple of heavy punches to Seferi in rounds three and four and that was enough for the Albanian to declare that he had had enough.
The fact that BT Sport have tried to sell this as acceptable is embarrassing for the sport. Fury has talent but this was a complete farce. We’d all like to see the glory days return and for Fury to get into the mix with the likes of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder but he’ll need a drastic step up from here on out to ever be ready for what is ahead.
Maurice Hooker defeated Terry Flanagan via split decision to win the vacant WBO Super Lightweight Championship.
Flanagan was bidding to become only the tenth Briton to win world championships at two different weight classes but Hooker denied him that, the American out-scrapping Flanagan and displaying fantastic counter punching.
Flanagan began the fight well, raiding in and out of range with excellent left jabs to the body. He was bouncing on his feet and scored an excellent left straight in the second but there were signs that Maurice Hooker was beginning to time his slashing right hand counter whenever the home fighter was trying to retreat.
The right hand from Hooker was becoming frequent in the third and then Flanagan’s feet began to slow, leaving him open to more and more counters. The visitor was now making the most of his huge reach advantage and although Flanagan was still having success he was eating more punches on the inside.
Flanagan began getting rough in the fifth and was warned for use of the head, his frustration growing as he was unable to get to grips with the southpaw stance of Hooker and he was now dropping rounds to the American off the right hand alone.
The fight caught fire in round seven as Flanagan seemed to hurt Hooker with a left hook. Moments later the two men clashed heads twice in quick succession that left Flanagan with a cut over his eye and a deep gash in his forehead that was leaking blood at an alarming rate. The impact of butts seem to bother Hooker, though, and Flanagan put the pressure on with flurries of hooks whilst his foe was on the ropes trying to cover up.
Hooker reached the end of the round and then began to regroup. Flanagan was looking a little desperate with his raids and was getting hit with counter rights time and again. Hooker didn’t have to go hell for leather, instead showing excellent movement to avoid the raids and then throw his right hand almost at will.
Hooker had a very strong ninth round just off his counter punch and then Flanagan threw caution to wind in the championship rounds as he sensed his history making night was slipping away from him.
They came out swinging in the eleventh, swapping hooks in close, but then Flanagan’s footwork slowed again and it allowed Hooker to box out of range and pot shot. Flanagan worked his way back into range toward the end of the round but it was looking a little desperate for him now entering the final stanza.
If anybody doubted Flanagan, however, he showed his warrior spirit in the twelfth as he came out swinging for the fences. He caught Hooker with tremendous hooks to head and body but the thirty second burst was over quickly and Hooker took over with one of his own. Both men were desperately tired at this point and finding another salvo hard to muster. There were a few more moments in the final minute, an excellent two punch combo from Flanagan the pick but it wasn’t enough to dent the American and swing the fight back in Flanagan’s favour.
The cut may have been the difference, however, the move to 140lbs has taken away the size advantage that Flanagan held at Lightweight and perhaps he needs a few fringe level world fights before he goes back in against the elite at his new weight class. He was outsmarted at times tonight by a talented American.
Scorecards read: 117-111 Flanagan (not sure what fight was being watched here), 115-113 & 117-111 (another poorly scored card) to Hooker
Mark Heffron sent out a statement to the domestic Middleweight division by stopping Andrew Robinson in the sixth round of their clash for the WBC International Middleweight Championship.
Robinson, never stopped in three defeats before this, was so game and tough but in the end was unravelled by the tremendous punch power of Oldham’s Heffron.
It was a quiet opener with both men using their jabs to feel it out but Heffron was already testing the water with a few winging hooks as the first three minutes drew to a close. Heffron started looking for hooks to the body in the second, a few straying low, but Robinson was showing his own toughness and proving difficult to pin down as he moves in and out of range with a excellent jab.
The body work from Heffron continued into the third, becoming even more fierce, and then in round four "Kid Dynamite" turned southpaw and it paid instant dividends. Robinson walked into a huge left hook, spray flying across the ring, and then a short range left uppercut that forced his eye to swell and close almost straight away. Robinson, sensing the danger, was backing up and blinking which allowed Heffron to up the ante and score with even more devastating shots.
Nobody, however, can fault Robinson’s toughness and despite now having only one eye he came out firing in round five and was constantly on the front foot for the entire duration. Heffron was finding his opponent easier to hit but he did not seem able to dent his belief and heart.
But in the sixth it all came to a halt. Heffron was warned for a series of low blows but as soon as the action was waved back on he scored a bone-shaking left hook that took Robinson’s legs. The Redditch man defied belief by staying up and even managing to eat several more power punches but it was clear he could not be allowed to continue and referee Iain John Lewis made the correct decision to save him from his own bravery.
Heffron (now 20-0 with 16 KO’s) is a very well kept secret in the Queensberry promotion but now is the time to unleash him. He’s a dangerous puncher with a huge size advantage and an excellent engine, the British Title should be on his team’s radar in the very near future.
JJ Metcalf had to work hard before becoming the first man to stop Aitor Nieto in the twelfth and final round, winning the vacant WBC Super Welterweight Championship in the process.
Nieto was a tricky opponent with good movement, which at times bamboozled and befuddled the Liverpudlian, but in the end it was the fierce relentlessness and pressure fighting of Metcalf that won him the day.
Metcalf was always on the front foot, pressing, but often after working himself into range he would struggle to throw the meaningful shot. Nieto was able to bounce around the ring and work off his combinations but the jab of Metcalf brought him firmly back in control from round three.
Nieto lacked the power to really hurt Metcalf, which could have been a blessing in disguise as Metcalf shipped too many shots in the contest, but was only forced to take singular power shots in return which was allowing Nieto to recover before any serious damage could be done . A left hand at the end of round seven did sting the Spaniard but Metcalf did not build on that in the following stanza, seemingly content to once again follow Nieto around the ring.
Metcalf was landing the more pronounced shots heading into the championship rounds, although they were few and far between, and there were a few moments when it seemed like a firefight may break out between the two but it was quickly dampened once more as the cat and mouse scenario returned.
When Metcalf used his jab to body and head he was able to work into punching range and fire off, which was in great display in round twelve as he dropped Aitor Nieto with a huge left hook. Nieto was hurt very badly and went into survival mode as Metcalf poured it on. It looked like Nieto, never previously stopped, could make it to the final bell but another huge shot had him staggering across the ring. Metcalf swarmed in for the kill but the referee stepped in and prevented any more damage.
There were positive points to Metcalf’s performance and he adapted well against awkward opposition to get the job done, he will meet sterner tests, however, that will punish his indiscretions if he does not work on them in the gym.
Currently the domestic 154lbs division is brimming with exceptional talent and Metcalf could be squaring off with anyone from Asinia Byfield to Liam Williams in the coming months.
Nathan Gorman showcased his ability with an impressive three round TKO over Sean "Big Sexy" Turner. Gorman displayed great footwork, speed and a tremendous array of punches as he outclassed his Irish opponent and showed that he is more than ready for championship bouts.
Gorman (now 13-0 with 11 KO’s) was straight to work with heavy left hooks to the body and a right uppercut straight through the guard that could not miss, taking full advantage of the fact that Turner seemed unwilling to move his head. The nose of Turner was bloodied in the first, he looked like he had no answer, and then he was dropped in the second following a hard right hand to the top of the skull followed by another crunching uppercut.
The bell saved Turner but he came out in the third looking ready to be dispatched. Gorman dodged a big swinging shot and then unloaded with a barrage on the ropes that had the referee ready to stop the bout. Turner was granted a reprieve and even scored with a left hook of his own but soon he was eating another two giant uppercuts before a secondary onslaught forced the referee to call it off. It was the standout performance of Gorman’s career so far and now the British level beckons, a fight with Daniel Dubois could happen before the end of 2018.
Jack Massey beat Ian Tims into submission two rounds into a scheduled eight at Cruiserweight. Massey (now 14-0 with 7 KO’s) hammered the brave Tims from the opening bell and then dropped him in the second, prompting his corner to throw in the towel to spare their man any more punishment.
Liverpool’s Jack McGann was the second debutant on the night and the second victorious after stopping Dwain Grant in the third round of four scheduled in the Middleweight division.
Hometown Cruiserweight Jordan Thompson walked through Lithuania’s Dmitrij Kalinovskij in the fourth round of a scheduled six, ending proceedings with an unanswered barrage. Thompson (now 9-0 with 7 KO’s) is a huge Cruiserweight with heavy hands and his team may begin manoeuvring him toward more meaningful fights from here on out.
Lyndon Arthur picked up a comfortable six round decision over the seasoned Charles Adamu to continue his unbeaten run. Arthur (now 11-0 with 8 KO’s) will be looking toward title fights at 175lbs after dispatching a foe that has mixed with quality opposition such as Rocky Fielding and George Groves.
Alex Dickinson knocked out David Howe in the fourth round of a scheduled six at Heavyweight. Dickinson (now 6-0 with 4 KO’s) finished proceedings with a left hook/crunching overhand right combo.
Manchester’s Zac Burton opened the show and made his professional debut with a four round decision over Dominik Landgraf in the Light-Heavyweight division. The referee scored the bout: 40-36