Eddie Hearn and Matchroom boxing kicked off their NXTGEN project, sponsored by JD Sports, on Friday night from the York Hall and we got a glimpse of some of the potential stars for the future. The action was screened live on Sky Sports Facebook and then Sky Sports 1.
The idea behind this series is that fighters that usually would open the big venue shows, fighting around 5:30-6:00 when the crowds are small, are presented with the opportunity to gain some mainstream exposure by headlining their very own show. This is a chance for up and coming fighters to grab the proverbial "bull by the horns" and show they deserve a more prominent role in Hearn’s ever growing and competitive stable.
Reece Bellotti seized the headline opportunity with both hands, dazzling with a third round KO of Wales’ Dai Davies in a British Featherweight Title eliminator. Watford’s Bellotti was in control from the get-go, never allowing Davies any breathing space, and displayed excellent combination punching and fast hands. The finish came in the third round when Bellotti dropped Davies with a terrific left-right combo, the right landing straight down the pipe. Davies tried to beat the count but was unable to make it up before ten.
Bellotti showed that he is ready for bigger and better tests and he’ll be hoping his NXTGEN career catapults him to headier heights in the near future. Ryan Walsh defends the British Title against Marco McCullough on May 20th and Bellotti (now 9-0) will be eyeing up the winner of that bout at the end of 2017, early 2018.
In a battle of unbeaten fighters; Craig Richards won the Southern Area Super Middleweight Title with a very hard fought points victory over Alan Higgins. It was nip and tuck throughout, a cracking affair, with both boxers displaying very contrasting styles but it was Richards’ that caught the referee’s eye at the end. Higgins was keen to close the distance and bang away to the body and head of his taller opponent, who attempted to keep Higgins at arm’s length, effectively initiating his jab. The fight ebbed and flowed as both men traded control, although a lot of Higgins’ work was landing on the gloves of the Crystal Palace resident. Many ringside observers believed Higgins had done enough with his superior workrate but Richards’ flashier punches won the day and the title. There’ll be plenty of call for a re-match and it’ll certainly be one the fans would like to see. Referee scored it 97-95 to Richards (8-0)
Essex’s Danny Dignum made it two stoppages from two victories with a second round defeat of Iain Jackson. Dignum had his opponent down from a three punch combo and then finished him a second time of asking with a well placed left uppercut.
Popular and ever improving Cruiserweight Isaac Chamberlain moved to 7-0 with a third round stoppage of the "Giant" Imantas Davidaitis. Chamberlain used the first round to feel out his 6’8 Lithuanian opponent before stepping up the gears in round two. He used his jab as a range finder before unloading a body shot just on the bell that had Davidaitis wincing in pain. The minute between rounds wasn’t enough and Chamberlain landed another left to the body within seconds of the third round and his opponent went down. Davidaitis did well to answer the count but Chamberlain trapped him on the ropes and unloaded with a barrage of body blows and uppercuts that prompted the official to wave it off. Chamberlain’s name shot to prominence last year when he displayed tremendous courage to outpoint Wadi Camacho with a dislocated shoulder, picking up the Southern Area Championship in the process. He is still a work in progress but the Cruiserweight division is always an interesting one and Eddie Hearn will want his man contesting at British level by the years end.
Paul Hyland Jnr remained undefeated but was pushed to the very brink as he saw off Peter Cope in an eight round Lightweight contest. Cope started very brightly and was certainly causing Hyland all manner of problems with his southpaw stance and high workrate. But Hyland got it together around midway and started to take over as his opponent ran out of steam. It was certainly close, enough to perhaps warrant a re-match, but Hyland was just about deserving of his victory. The domestic lightweight division is extremely strong in Britain so it is difficult to assess just how far Hyland is going to go, he’ll definitely need to step it up but at 26 he has time aplenty on his side. Referee scored the bout: 78-76
Felix Cash looks like a middleweight to watch and he impressed here with a 6 round decision over Ireland’s Jay Byrne. Both men entered this bout undefeated but it was Cash, who looked a weight division heavier than his foe, that took control from the outset. He constantly snapped Byrne’s head back with an impressive jab whilst sinking very hurtful body shouts throughout the contest. Byrne was tough and fought valiantly but he just didn’t possess the same class as Berkshire’s Cash, who at 23 could grow into a Super Middle at the least. Byrne was momentarily stunned by an uppercut in the 4th and worried by body shots in the 6th and final but he stayed the course for the final bell. The referee scored the bout 60-54.
Surrey’s Jack Ball bounced back from a stunning 1st round knockout, last November against JJ McDonagh, with a stoppage of his own in the very first stanza against the extremely overmatched Olegs Fedotovs. Ball has seven early nights from his eight victories and clearly carries power but this fight was more a confidence booster than a measuring stick. The Latvian, Fedotovs, was stunned by a sharp left to the temple and was stopped on his feet by the referee after an onslaught from Ball. Ball will no doubt be seeking a re-match with McDonagh latet this year to attempt to set the record straight as he pushes further up the domestic Light Heavyweight ladder.
MMA fighter turned professional boxer, Miles Gordon Darby recorded a very close points decision over journeyman Jamie Ambler to open the show. Darby showed that the switch in profession isn’t as simple as it sounds but he ground out a four round decision. Darby moves to 2-0 in the Cruiserweight division but it is impossible to predict just how far he can go. Referee scored the bout 39-38