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25 SEPTEMBER 2017

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NXTGEN York Hall Results

York Hall
York Hall

By Steven Bateson

 

Joshua Buatsi headlined the JDNXTGEN show from York Hall, in only his second pro fight, and dispatched the tough Baptiste Castegnaro in the fifth round of a scheduled six. There are very high hopes for Buatsi and he will have learned so much from the awkward, competitive Frenchmen who gave it his all. Castegnaro was lunging in and throwing shots from wild angles but Buatsi demonstrated such a supreme confidence and calmness throughout, slowly moving through the gears as he took apart his brave foe. A left hook to the head in round three momentarily hurt Castegnaro before he somehow managed to walk through a multitude of bombs in the fourth stanza. The crowd and Buatsi, himself, seemed shocked that Castegnaro was surviving but the end was certainly nigh. It was becoming difficult to watch as the punishment continued and a left body blow at the start of the fifth finally put the Frenchman down, allowing the referee to immediately wave it off. Castegnaro, who took this fight at a week’s notice and had only been stopped once before, deserves huge credit for his endurance and heart but he perhaps should have been saved from himself earlier because he was too brave for his own good. Buatsi will be stepped up in class quickly I would imagine and will be contesting domestic titles at 175lbs within the next 12 months, his amateur pedigree makes him a real prospect.

 

Conor Benn promised fireworks on his York Hall debut and he did not disappoint with a second round demolition of Kane Baker. Both men entered the fight undefeated and Baker was certainly game, choosing to stand and trade with Benn, but in the end left himself wide open for the dynamite in the Destroyer’s hands. Baker was deducted a point at the beginning of round two for a blatant headbutt and then he walked onto a crunching left hook, which took his legs right from from under him. He tried to hold on but Benn smelt the blood in the water and swung over a big right hand that decked the Birmingham fighter. Baker managed to rise and complained when the referee waved it off but in reality it was the correct decision. Benn is only 20 and plenty of time to learn but he is showing improvements in every fight and there will be those who hope to see him stepped up in levels. He’s quick, strong and carries power so as he develops physically he’ll become even more of a threat at welterweight and even the divisions beyond.

 

Essex Super Middleweight Danny Dignum picked up every round en route to a four round decision over Lewis van Poetsch. Dignum controlled the entire contest, showing a growing maturity and shot selection, as he retained his unbeaten record. Dignum looks like a good operator but stiffer challenges will await him and until then we won’t know the extent of how far he can rise.

 

Jake Ball scored a ten round decision over Coventry’s previously unbeaten Joe Sherriff in a cracking final eliminator for the English Light Heavyweight belt. Ball is known for his power, eight early stoppages from nine previous wins, and in round two he put Sherriff down twice, seemingly destined for another early finish, but Sherriff demonstrated his grit and guts to get up and fight on. It was a left hand to the body that hurt Sherriff early and he slipped to the deck for the first eight count but when he rose it was obvious the body was still in pain. Ball put it on him and dropped him again after a relentless onslaught but he could not keep his foe at bay. Sherriff fought back and caught Ball with a flush shot of his own, momentarily stunning him, and from there he had plenty more success in the contest. Ball jabs well and was timing Sherriff as he stepped in with a left cross but Sherriff never backed up and at times he countered back impressively, his lack of power was his real downfall in the bout. Ball started to wilt and tire around round eight as Sherriff poured it on but he couldn’t find the punch to turn the tide in his favour. Jake Ball was blasted out by JJ McDonagh in 2016 and although he has bounced back well from that setback it would seem he still has that tendency to leave his chin hanging high, which will get him found out at a higher level. These kind of fights are the reason for the NXTGEN concept, both men deserve credit for this one. The scorecard read: 97-94

 

Lawrence Okolie went past the first round for the first time as he outpointed Blaise Mendouo over six. Okolie had notched up four straight first round knockouts before this but Mendouo proved a much sterner and frustrating test, something that the Londoner desperately needed. When Okolie kept the fight at range, using his 6’5 frame, he controlled the fight but he still has a tendency to slug it out which needs to be addressed as he progresses. Mendouo was dropped by a right to the temple in round four but he rose and continued to take the fight to his opponent, tying up and scrapping on the inside when the chances arose. Mendouo was blasted out by Daniel Dubois (at heavyweight) but gave Simon Vallilly all he could handle a few months ago so it came as no surprise that Okolie was made to work here. There had been talk of matching Okolie with Isaac Chamberlain in the near future but after watching this I’d say he needs a couple more learning bouts to let that one simmer, he has to stop smothering his own work, work off his jab and also leaving his chin exposed in exchanges. The referee scored it: 59-54

 

Wales’ Joe Cordina added another victory to his ledger with a first round stoppage over the usually durable Jamie Speight. Speight has mixed in good company (Josh Warrington and Isaac Lowe to name a couple) but he was absolutely no match, physically or skill wise, for Cordina, who dominated him from start to finish. Cordina’s hands are lightning quick, his timing and distance judgement are second to none and he has spiteful power which could take the Olympian to championship levels before long. It may only be four professional contests for the now Lightweight but there is no need to keep him treading too much water because he is ready for better tests. He sparred Jorge Linares in the build up to this fight and Linares’ camp tabbed him as a real star so make of that what you will.

 

Ted Cheeseman defeated Francesco Lezzi by third round disqualification in one of the more bizarre contests you are likely to see. Lezzi was a late replacement opponent for Cheeseman and from the opening bell it was obvious he didn’t want to be there. He barely threw a punch in the seven minutes of action but he did manage to register multiple complaints and then shoved the referee on three different occasions after those fell on deaf ears, prompting the official to call it off. Cheeseman dropped his opponent with a right hand in the second round whilst showing some good bodywork and closing down but in the end it was a wasted night for the English 154lbs Champion. I like the concept of the NXTGEN series, giving up and coming boxers a showcase, but the fights just have to be more competitive. Cheeseman is only 22 but has the ability to break into the British ranks at Super Welterweight and he gains nothing from this kind of fight.

 

Felix Cash went 6-0 with a first round stoppage of Fernando Heredia. Heredia chose to stand a trade with Cash but caught a big left hook that turned the Spaniards’ legs to jelly. Cash followed up with a barrage to head and body, forcing his opponent to the deck with a right uppercut. Heredia rose but the referee chose to step in and wave it off. I’ve been impressed with Cash thus far but a fight like this tells us very little about his progression. He’s had a few injuries so hopefully he’ll start to see more action in the new season, the Southern Area Middleweight belt has to be in his sights.

 

Essex Middleweight William Webber opened the show and made his professional debut with a four round shutout over perennial journeyman Sonny Whiting. Webber has a decent amateur pedigree and could be one to keep an eye on.




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