By Danny Winterbottom
London Olympic super heavyweight gold medallist Anthony Joshua made short work of the previously unbeaten Italian Emanuele Leo on his long awaited professional debut inside the O2 Arena.
Joshua, who received a good luck message from Wladimir Klitschko before the heavyweight number one dominated Alexander Povetkin in Moscow on the same night, had to endure a huge amount of pressure and expectation going into his professional bow in front of his friends and family but coped with it admirably as he picked off Leo with his jab before a series of thudding rights sent the Italian to the canvas and referee Ian John Lewis waved the contest off at 2-47 of the opening round.
“This was just as important as winning the Olympic gold medal” Joshua told Sky Sports after the contest.
“I prefer the pro game to the amateurs. I liked the experience of having my hands wrapped in these small gloves and going into battle. I’m very pleased and now it is on to the next one.”
Joshua will most likely see action again on the undercard of Kell Brook-Vyacheslav Senchenko on October 26 in Sheffield.
Bury’s Scott Quigg went into his WBA super bantamweight world title fight with Cuban Yoandris Salinas having bizarrely been handed the title when in their wisdom the World Boxing Association upgraded his interim title to full status when they made the true 122lbs champion, Guillermo Rigondeaux, a ‘super’ champion.
Of course this wasn’t Quigg’s fault but after a cagey, hard fought contest, the fight was judged a majority draw and Quigg held on to the title he had never won in the first place!
Salinas, a veteran of over 300 amateur contests, was very well schooled and his stinging jab and movement caused the slow starting Quigg problems in the early going.
By round seven Quigg was down on my scorecard but his punch output increased greatly and he finally began to force the Cuban on to the back foot and stay in the pocket as he whipped in his trade mark body shots and short uppercuts through the guard.
Salinas became more and more ragged as blood seeped from his nose and he
complained to the referee that Quigg was hitting him low and using his head.
In reality Salinas was tiring badly and Quigg was coming on like an express train. Several body blows made Salinas pull a face and he tried to coast in the final session as if he had the fight in the bag.
Scores of 115-113 for Quigg and 114-114 twice rendered the contest a draw. The bout was very close and it would be hard to complain too much about the result. SecondsOut scored the contest 115-114 for Quigg.
“I thought I won the fight” Quigg told Sky Sports.
“He had over 300 fights as an amateur and I had 12. I feel I proved tonight that I belong at this level.”
London’s Kevin Mitchell continued his rehabilitation following his loss to Ricky Burns last
year with a sixth round stoppage of Mexican Marco Lopez paving the way for a domestic showdown with Derry Mathews in December.
Mitchell, who is one of British boxing’s finest technicians, put his punches together beautifully as he tattooed Lopez to both head and body.
Lopez, a career super featherweight, looked a tad fleshy around the midriff and Mitchell exploited this potential weakness when a crunching left hand under Lopez’s rib cage forced him to take a knee in round four.
The South American showed plenty of grit but he was outgunned by Mitchell who was firing on all cylinders and couldn’t miss.
A straight right down the middle of Lopez’s guard bloodied his nose and a flurry of punches dropped him to the canvas. This time referee Steve Gray decided enough was enough and called a halt to the bout.
“I’m getting back to my old ways” said Mitchell.
“I’m fighting regularly and I’m in the gym keeping busy. I’m enjoying it, I’m happy again.”
A clash with Liverpudlian and reigning Commonwealth champion Derry Mathews has been strongly rumoured this week and Eddie Hearn admitted they wanted to make that contest, possibly for December.
“It would be a nice little dance in the park, wouldn’t it?” said Mitchell