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23 SEPTEMBER 2018

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Okolie Drills Watkins In Three At York Hall

WEIGHIN-WATKINS-OKOLIE6
WEIGHIN-WATKINS-OKOLIE6

By Steven Bateson

 

Lawrence Okolie took just three rounds to knockout Luke Watkins and win the Commonwealth Cruiserweight Championship at York Hall on Wednesday night.

Okolie, headlining his second bill, wasted no time in getting to work and looked extremely fast and dangerous behind his huge and dominant jab. Watkins looked a little daunted by the task in front of him and was struggling to find any way to bridge the overwhelming reach disadvantage. The straight right hand at the end of the opener was a sign of things to come for the champion, who already looked a little desperate.

Round two followed a similar pattern and it was clear that Okolie did not want to repeat his disappointing performance when facing Isaac Chamberlain in February. He was going to the body now after landing the shuddering right hand and with Watkins offering little in response it seemed only a matter of time until the heavy artillery began landing.

The end came in the third round when Okolie sensed little resistance and turned the dial up. A jab followed by a chopping right seemed to wobble Watkins legs and then a short right uppercut inside had him scrambling for safety. Watkins tried to hold but Okolie span him around and nailed a big left hook on the jaw before four more titanic right hands felled the defending champion. Watkins looked shellshocked as he rose but he indicated he was ok to continue; in reality he really wasn’t.

Okolie (now 9-0 with 7 KO’s) knew his man was done and immediately drove a huge jab in his face before two more colossal right hands sent Watkins crashing to the mat. The referee waved the fight off at the same time that Watkin’s corner threw in the towel.

It was Okolie’s most impressive win and performance to date. His power cannot be denied and his huge frame and reach will cause anyone problems in the Cruiserweight division. There will be much bigger and tougher tests to come to win the Commonwealth title in his ninth pro fight is an excellent achievement and it seems inevitable that the next destination be Matty Askin and the British Title.

 

"Ruthless" Ryan Doyle stunned Reece Bellotti with a fifth round stoppage in a tremendous shootout to win the Commonwealth Featherweight Championship, although unfortunately there will be calls for a premature stoppage in some quarters from referee, Howard Foster

 

Doyle (now 17-2-1 with 9 KO’s) was not fancied by the bookmakers but he came out brimming with confidence and seemed happy to meet Bellotti head on from the get go, both men swapping punched laced with bad intentions.

 

Bellotti won the first round with solid body shots, the challenger perhaps loading up and missing a little too much with the big impact punches, but Doyle came back into it in the second. Bellotti was back to the body again before starting to mix in combinations only for Doyle to answer with a left hook and an uppercut that set the York Hall ablaze with anticipation.

 

In the third round both men threw hell for leather from bell to bell in a scene straight from a Hollywood movie. Doyle’s back was on the ropes but they swapped tremendous blows before Doyle caught the champion with two huge right hooks. Bellotti looked stunned by the blows but then he came back on strong with power punches of his own. It was building into a great fight but the pace was so frenetic that there was no way it could go twelve rounds.

 

Bellotti’s face was marked under the right eye and he looked a little more ragged in the fourth round and although he continued bombing forward, it was Doyle who was beginning to look fresher and stronger. Another big right hand rocked Bellotti’s head back and he once again seemed hurt by the blow, although he sucked it up and continued to stand toe to toe.

 

The controversial finish came at the very beginning of round five. A huge right landed to the temple of Bellotti and his legs immediately turned to jelly. He staggered to the corner and Doyle followed in with a body shot and another hook to the head that dumped the champion on the floor. The referee didn’t even give Bellotti a chance to recover and immediately waved the contest off. Bellotti seemed responsive and ready to continue although that may have just been the adrenaline, there is every chance he would have been hurt even more had he been allowed to continue.

 

A re-match is certainly a possibility, no boxing fan would complain about having to watch that one again, although Doyle and his team may now choose to pursue other avenues. It is a lesson learnt for Reece Bellotti and he and his team can return to the drawing board and go again. He got caught too often in this bout but he is a very heavy handed Featherweight and can certainly come back to win championships in the future.

 

Ted Cheeseman was like a juggernaut as he blew Pauly Upton away in the 4th round of their WBA International Super Welterweight contest.

 

Upton tried to box from range and keep to his slick skills but he just could not stop the relentless onslaught from the defending champion, who performed like a man possessed from the opening bell. The first round was devoid of a feeling out process, instead both men met in the centre and swapped shots to head and body. The most telling punch of the round was a right uppercut through the guard from Cheeseman that snapped Upton’s head back.

 

Upton was gallant and brave, throwing at every opportunity through rounds two and three, but he had nothing in his arsenal that was remotely bothering the rampant Bermondsey fighter, Cheeseman showed absolutely no respect for his opponent’s punch power. Cheeseman was working more frequently to the body in the second and then started to bully Upton back onto the ropes through the third stanza, bloodying his nose with solid shots, as the frequency of the thumping head shots increased by the second.

 

The fourth round signified the end and it was destructive. Cheeseman backed Upton up and then smashed a huge right uppercut through the guard again, as in the first round, but this time Upton was dropped to his knees. He cleverly spat out his gumshield to buy himself more recovery time but it merely delayed the inevitable. Upton used his recovery time to come out swinging, choosing to go out on his shield, but he was caught again and touched the canvass for a second count. He was once again able to continue but it was becoming crystal clear that his tank was empty.

 

Upton was now trying to hold on but that led to him being deducted a point and then Cheeseman turned the barrage up yet another notch, a flurry of hooks to the head sent Upton down on his face and prompted the referee to wave the contest off.

 

It was action-packed from start to finish and a tremendous contest between two unbeaten fighters. Cheeseman, at only 22 years old, seems to be developing incredible strength and a desire to walk through anything that stands in front of him. I’d say he is certainly a British fighter to keep an eye on over the next twelve months, the Lonsdale belt should be next on the agenda and he will always deliver in the entertainment stakes.

 

Undercard round up:

 

Louie Lynn took care of Liverpool’s Ricky Starkey in the second round of a scheduled four at the Super Featherweight limit. Lynn (2-0 with 2 KO’s) had his man down in the first and then finished the bout in the second. Lynn was a standout amateur and he already looks strong as a professional, he could be one to watch.

 

Daniyar Yeleussinov recorded victory in his second outing with a six round points victory against Zoltan Szabo in a Welterweight contest. Yeleussinov displayed some of his trademark punch variety and handspeed but it was far from a mesmerising performance that some of have come to expect, even so early in his paid career. Szabo was often on the back foot but he never looked particularly daunted by his foe and had his own moments of success when he chose to throw caution to the wind and fight back. Szabo has mixed in good company, including a KO victory over Stephen Ormond, but he couldn’t pull off the upset here, the heart and determination were there however the skill levels just left him lacking a little. The Kazakh has excellent reflexes, speed and counter punching ability but it is worth noting he is not the most elusive fighter, that could make things interesting against a higher level of 147lber. He and his team seem to have him on the fast track to bigger things and perhaps then we’ll see his capabilities in all of their glory but for right now the jury will remain out.

Scorecards read: 60-54

 

Felix Cash strolled his way to a clear and decisive eight round decision over the durable Francis Tchoffo. Cash used his superior reach and height to dominate off the jab, keeping Tchoffo at bay and manoeuvring around his lunging attacks. Tchoffo tried to press and intimidate with his muscular frame but Cash showed excellent maturity to stick to a gameplan against an opponent that had never been stopped prior. A left hook in round three briefly unbalanced the Cameroonian but there didn’t seem to be a clear point when Cash had his man in trouble until a solid one-two dropped his foe at the end of the sixth. Tchoffo was dazed and hurt from the right hand on the jaw but Cash had no time in which to build upon his offense, the bell saving the visitor. It was far from a thrill-a-minute fight but Cash took care of his business and stepped it up when the opportunity arose, wearing his foe down and controlling every round. Does he need to show another level? Could he up the pace? Quite possibly on both counts but that will only come with fighters that push him to showcase more of his ability. Cash (now 9-0 with 6 KO’s) is a flashy, intelligent operator and needs to be pushed toward title contention now in the Middleweight division, Southern Area or English have to be on the radar at the least.

Referee scored the bout: 80-71

 

Danny Dignum survived two knockdowns to seal a six round victory over Anthony Fox in a terrific fight. Dignum (now 6-0 with 2 KO’s) boxed very well through the first three rounds and was making Fox miss whilst moving in and out of range, looking comfortable as he cantered toward victory. In the fourth, however, Dignum stepped into a right hook from Fox that took his legs away from him and left him on the seat of his pants. Dignum beat the count but his legs were heavy and Fox poured it on, another scramble on the ropes ended with Dignum touching down on the mat once more for a second count. The undefeated fighter was swimming against the tide but Fox was rushing in and spoiling his own chance of the finish which allowed Dignum to survive and even finish the round on top. Fox came out swinging in the fifth, looking to score the big shot to drop Dignum again, but he was looking a little crude now whilst Dignum was able to get back behind his jab and comfortably boxed his way through the next two stanzas without much more cause for concern. This is a big learning fight for the Essex 168lb’er against an opponent on a four bout win streak, it will stand him on good stead as his level is increased.

Referee scored the bout: 57-56

 

Sean McGoldrick made it six wins from six with a very hard fought victory over Craig Derbyshire, securing the points win in a six round contest. McGoldrick (6-0 with 2 KO’s) started brightly and displayed an impressive array of punches but Derbyshire worked his way into the bout through the midway period and perhaps made it a lot more competitive than it should have been given McGoldrick’s extensive amateur pedigree. Derbyshire, a former Central Area champ at Super Fly, was teak tough and seemed to grow in confidence as the bout progressed, this will serve as a tremendous learning curve for Wales’ McGoldrick who didn’t shine as brightly as many may have predicted.

 

Craig Richards opened the show with a third round stoppage of Croatia’s Bosko Misic in a Light Heavyweight contest scheduled for six. Richards (12-1 with 6 KO’s) looked a little lethargic through the first two stanzas but found his range in the third before a right to the temple and a sickening left to the body had Misic down on the canvass, unable to answer the referee’s count. Richards will be hoping to propel himself back into title contention now, his only career loss to Frank Buglioni for the British after coming in as a late replacement, and a July showdown with Jake Ball has been mooted.




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