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20 FEBRUARY 2018

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Okolie outpoints Chamberlain in London




By Steve Bateson: Lawrence Okolie won the "British Beef" grudge match over Isaac Chamberlain at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. In the end, despite the build up, there was very little grudge to it, in fact the entertainment levels were slim to none in a bout that will not be remembered past this evening.

 

Chamberlain was judged to have been knocked down in round one, a left jab landed before a right hit him on the back of the head but in reality it was a calamitous decision from the official that set the precedent for what was an uninspiring fight. The rest of the rounds followed a dreadful pattern of holding and jostling, which seemed to be more about Okolie having more strength than Chamberlain to hold on for longer than anyone actually landing meaningful punches.

 

Chamberlain tried desperately to come forward and push the action but there was no spark and no fireworks. In round six he threw a hail mary left hand and missed before eating a right hand to the temple which forced him to touch the canvass for a second registered knockdown. It was a fleeting moment of boxing before we returned back to holding pattern.

 

I apologise if you were hoping to read a boxing report here but the majority of the bout resembled a very poor grappling contest. Chamberlain was guilty of holding early, deducted a point in round two, before Okolie then took the reins from then on out, hooking Chamberlain every single time they stepped together to engage. The referee was poor, he warned Okolie on several occasions but only deducted a point at the end of the ninth round despite taking from Chamberlain on practically his first offense.

 

Both men will no doubt learn from this fight but it was extremely poor and devoid of any kind of action you will remember. There will be no highlight reel action and the rest of the Cruiserweight division will be sleeping soundly from what they have seen, there is a profound amount of work that needs to be done for either fighter if they are likely to go beyond domestic level.

 

Sky and their commentators may choose to tell you it was intriguing and that it was a fine performance from Okolie but it wasn’t on either counts, it was sleep inducing and a poor advert for domestic boxing. For so long we have cried out to see these kinds of fights, two up coming prospects looking to step ahead of the other on the journey for greatness but this one did not deliver on any scale, unfortunately.

 

Scorecards read: 98-89, 96-90, 97-89

 

Joshua Buatsi put on a two round clinic as he dissected Jordan Joseph for a TKO victory. Buatsi has been raved about since his amateur and Olympic days and he continues to impress as a professional, it seems only a matter of time before he is contesting championships in the Light Heavyweight division.

 

Buatsi (now 4-0 with 3 KO’s) stalked his foe from the get go, his timing, precision and footwork just three tremendous aspects of his arsenal. Joseph deserves credit for trying to stand his ground but he was absolutely no match for Buatsi, who seemed to hurt Joseph with every clean, crisp punch that landed.

 

A left hook wobbled Joseph at the end of the first round, he was clinging on, and then a solid right hand in round number two turned Joseph’s legs to jelly once more. Joseph staggered back to the ropes and Buatsi poured it prompting the towel to be thrown in and the referee jumped in to spare Londoner any more punishment.

 

Buatsi looked as though he is already ready for the biggest tests that 175lbs has to offer, certainly on a domestic level at the very least there is nothing stopping his promotional team from throwing him in at the deep end. Buatsi oozes quality in every single department and this performance contained a lot more spite and venom, keep a close eye on him because 2018 could lead him to big things.

 

Ted Cheeseman overcame the biggest test of his career thus far by defeating Carson Jones over ten very hard fought rounds, winning the WBA International Super Welterweight bauble in the process.

 

There were many who believed this was a step too far for Cheeseman at this stage of his career, knowing Jones has made a career of upsetting the odds, but the Bermondsey man displayed tremendous maturity to control his veteran foe, systematically breaking Jones down over the distance.

 

Jones, somewhat of a Grim Reaper to UK fighters, started brightly and looked as though he was going to give Cheeseman a very difficult night but Cheeseman’s age and superior fitness allowed him to pull away as the fight progressed.

 

Cheeseman (now 13-0 with 8 KO’s) hit body and head well whilst using his strength advantage to bully his American opponent at times, pushing him back on the ropes and allowing himself room to work off his combinations.

 

Jones looked to be hustling his way into the fight as it went to the trenches in rounds three and four, a sharp right hand momentarily stunning Cheeseman, but the Londoner soaked up the pressure and came firing back with his own array of punches. The fight was now toe to toe, blood from Jones’ nose, and the crowd were on their feet as the pendulum of momentum had began to swing back and forth.

 

It had become a war of attrition and Jones’ was beginning to wane, unable to keep pace with the young up and comer who still had plenty of gears to move through. The American displayed toughness and warrior instincts to stay in there but Cheeseman was beginning to coast and showboat from round six, sensing that Jones no longer possessed the power or skills to cause him significant damage.

 

Jones was deducted a point in round nine for a low blow, he had been warned previously, and it seemed to spark him into some final action. He caught Cheeseman with some sharp shots toward the final minute, a lapse in concentration that Cheeseman’s corner were not impressed about at all. Cheeseman took the harsh words on board and went out to finish the fight on the front foot, leaving nobody in any doubt who the victor was.

 

Cheeseman, still only 22, will have learnt a lot from this fight, going ten rounds for the first time, and it will stand him in great stead for the upcoming tests in his career. A potential British title tilt should be in the offing for mid-spring, Cheeseman and JJ Metcalf has all the ingredients for a terrific showdown.

 

Scorecards read: 99-91 x2 , 100-89 (scorecards perhaps a little wide but right result)

 

Reece Bellotti successfully defended his Commonwealth Bantamweight Championship with a ruthless dispatching of Ben Jones.

 

It was an exciting opening round as both men chose to stand and trade, Bellotti a little overeager as he was desperate to land a big overhand right. Jones, who has mixed in very experienced company over the years, answered back every shot that was thrown his way but it was clear that Bellotti’s accuracy and sharpness were beginning to tell. A left hook to the body in round three drew a wince from Jones, he could not hide it, and Bellotti now had a target to aim at. Early in round four another left to the body had Jones on the deck but he displayed immense toughness to get up and see out the three minutes, despite being under a constant barrage.

 

Bellotti (now 12-0 with 11 KO’s) was in complete control now and early in round six he just marched across the ring and landed a crunching right hand on the button, dropping Jones again. Jones, to his credit, rose once more but his legs betrayed him and the referee rightly waved it off.

 

Bellotti displayed terrific maturity to take out the veteran Jones, his progression at 126lbs continues to impress and there will be bigger tests, especially domestically in the next twelve months. Ryan Walsh and Isaac Lowe meet on February 17th for the British and Bellotti’s team will have one eye on the victor for late in 2018.

 

Nick Webb went 12-0 (10 KO’s) by stopping Ante Verunica in devastating fashion. Verunica was rough and ragged but he was nothing more than stepping stone foe for the Surrey man. It was a scrappy fight, not much clean work, but Webb worked well off his jab at times and in turn that set up a thunderous overhand right hand to the temple that knocked Verunica clean out for the count in the third round. Webb is above this kind of fight but to be fair this was more of a treading water contest as he awaits an opponent for the English Title, either Daniel Dubois or Nathan Gorman would be a perfect choice although both have appeared reluctant to take it.

 

Felix Cash’s impressive professional career rolls on as he outclassed James Hagenimana, stopping him within five rounds of a scheduled eight. Cash looked on form as he worked off his ramrod jab and then hammered the body of the Belgian. Hagenimana was reluctant to open up early on and Cash was guilty of neglecting his jab but as soon as he got on his work, he took control and it was only a matter of time before he got the inside the distance victory. A left jab, chopping right combo dropped Hagenimana in the fourth and although he showed grit to get up and continue it was clear that he was on the ropes. Cash (now 8-0 with 6 KO’s) refused to let up and poured it on his outmatched foe, a left cross to temple and a right straight to the body finally felling Hagenimana for the finish. Cash looks a classy operator, smart footwork and range of punching, and should be pushed toward at least the Southern Area Title in his next outing.

 

Paul Butler continues to bide his time for a world title tilt as he eased past Jefferson Vargas, finally stopping the Ecuadoran in the eighth and final round. Butler had levels on his opponent and that much was obvious from the opening bell, although the Elsmere Port fighter was guilty of a lax defence at times. Butler displayed his range of punching, working the body and head with impressive combinations, the left hook, especially, looked a potent weapon. It was the body shots, however, that unravelled his rival in the end. Vargas went down in round five but looked as though he would see the bout out on sheer toughness alone only to succumb to a second stiff hook to the ribs in the eighth stanza. Vargas rose and beat the count but then dropped down again from the delayed effect, prompting the referee to wave it off.

 

Butler’s career has been somewhat stop start so it would be great to see some significant tests for him in the coming months, rumours of a fight with Liborio Solis have surfaced and that would be a real challenge for the former world champ.

 

Charlie Edwards made a statement by crushing Ricky Little inside one round of a scheduled eight. Little may not have been on Edwards’ level but it was still a clinical demolition and showed that the Sutton fighter needs much higher tests at Super Fly. Edwards (now 12-1 with 5 KO’s) has been very vocal in his pursuit of a domestic showdown with IBF Champion Kal Yafai and that may just headline another Matchroom show later this year.

 

Newport’s Sean McGoldrick took out Michael Barnor in three rounds to stretch his professional record to 4-0 (2 KO’s). Ghana’s Barnor has gone the distance with some of Britain’s more established Bantamweights so this is potentially a good indicator of McGoldrick’s ability.

 

Gamal Yafai opens the first Matchroom show of 2018 with a third round knockout over Jose Hernandez. This bout was taken as a tune up for Yafai ahead of his clash with Gavin McDonnell next month in Sheffield. The impressive and ever improving Birmingham fighter improves his ledger to 14-0 (7 KO’s)

 


All the results from London

vacant WBA International Super Welterweight Title Ted Cheeseman w pts 10 Carson Jones
vacant WBA Continental Cruiserweight title Lawrence Okolie w pts 10 Isaac Chamberlain
Commonwealth featherweight title Reece Bellotti w tko 6 Ben Jones
middleweight Felix Cash w tko 5 James Hagenimana
super featherweight Paul Butler w tko 8 Jefferson Vargas
super flyweight Charlie Edwards w tko 1 Ricky Little
light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi w tko 2 Jordan Joseph
super bantamweight Sean McGoldrick w tko 3 Michael Barnor
heavyweight Nick Webb w ko 2 Ante Verunica
super bantamweight Gamal Yafai w ko 3 Jose Hernandez



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