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Smith Repeats Victory Over Williams In Newcastle

By Steven Bateson


Liam Smith repeated victory over Liam Williams in Newcastle on Saturday Night, putting to bed any doubts from their first bout and securing him a shot at the WBO Super Welterweight Championship. The two men contested a bloodbath in April that ended in a controversial stoppage win for Smith (Williams ahead on all three scorecards) but this result has a more conclusive result and was much less drama-filled.


Smith started the first fight very sluggishly but he righted that wrong this time around, getting behind his jab from the outset and establishing it as the key weapon to victory. The first two rounds weren’t action packed but instead both men displayed tentativeness and respect for what the other was capable of, clearly both were weary of potential head clashes too which so badly marred their first fight.


Smith allowed Williams to march toward him and picked him off with his excellent jab before doubling up it with slick and hard uppercuts on the inside as Williams ducked his head into the chest. Williams was registering punches of his own and in round three he found a home for a left hook around the guard and then a right straight which finally got Smith’s attention, momentarily knocking the Liverpudlian back on his heels.


But too often Williams was walking into range behind a high guard, over reluctant to throw hands and allowed Smith to snap off the jab and score points as he fight reached halfway. A left hand around the guard and a right uppercut in round five did stiffen Smith for a second but Williams did not capitalise and fell back into the same routine which allowed Smith to maintain control of the fight.


It was completely different to what we witnessed in April and perhaps Williams was caught short by Smith’s change in tactics through the first seven, the ferocity and intensity of the Welshmen was nothing compared to their first encounter.


But trainer Gary Lockett implored him he needed a lot more and in round nine his charge answered the call, increasing his punch output tenfold and closing the gap as he battered Smith to body and head in close. The two men exchanged words at the bell and it was the first sign of the fire and grudge that had so many excited for this rematch in the first place.


Round ten was Williams’ best round to date as he landed solid body shots and vicious uppercuts that frequently snapped back Smith’s head. Smith tried to answer back and trade but it was the Welshmen with faster hands as he went hook to the body, hook to the head and then uppercuts right through the middle of the guard. It was now becoming obvious that Williams and his team had prepared to come on strong late, the tactic that was expected from Smith, and the last two rounds would be a real attritional battle.


Round eleven was evenly contested but Smith found success late on and seemed, for the first time, to hurt Williams with a right hand just before the bell sounded. It certainly appeared that Williams needed a stoppage or at least a couple of knockdowns to turn the fight in his favour in round twelve.


They did stand and trade for the final three minutes but Smith looked the fresher as he landed his own shots and showed tidy defensive skills to evade any serious damage as Williams marauded forward hoping to land one money punch.


It wasn’t the barnburner that many hoped and predicted, it was more a technical game of chess than a war but it was intriguing nonetheless. It was certainly close and many of the early rounds were difficult to score but I think the final result was right and justified. There may be scope for them to meet again somewhere down the line but for now Liam Smith will go forward to fight for the WBO Championship whilst Williams may return to domestic level or even European level as he begins to rebuild in the hope of reaching world level again.


Scorecards read: 114-114, 116-112, 117-111


Leather climbs off the deck to best Foot


Glenn Foot and Josh Leather waged war over twelve rounds of a North East grudge match, Josh Leather coming out on top as the IBF East/West Super Lightweight European Champion. There had been bad blood at the press conference in the week and it was clear from the outset that both men were fired up for the contest, however Josh Leather’s inexperience got the better of him early doors as he tried to prove his toughness from the get go and ended with him on the canvass in round two.


Foot controlled the early pace as he used his strength to push Leather back against the ropes and banged away to the head and body of his younger foe. He began round two with two telling right hands that should have awoken Leather to the threat he was facing, but he did not heed the warning and a third straight right send him crashing heavily to the deck. Leather was able to beat the count and withstand the barrage that Foot poured on him but he was certainly hurt and stunned by what was being thrown his way.


Foot continued to force the pace through round three and it wasn’t until round four and beyond that Leather started to settle to his task and use his substantial reach advantage to pop his jab and utilise it as the weapon that it should be. Foot was deducted a point in round six for a punching after the referee called break, he had previously been warned for use of the head, but he was not to be deterred and made Leather fight at an extraordinary pace. Leather was being outmuscled and outmanned at times, his complaints to the referee showing that he was not enjoying the evening, and Foot gained even more heart and determination from his foe’s discomfort.


Leather had a solid round ten, using his jab more and was able to land a few impressive right hands that got Foot’s attention and then Foot was deducted a second point after losing his mouthguard for what seemed like the tenth time, just after Leather had scored with a mesmeric five punch combination, his best work of the entire fight. Both men were desperately tired as the rounds and minuted ticked down and an argument could be made that the fight was in the balance heading into the final round


Leather’s handspeed and precision was on view in round twelve but Foot answered back with everything that was thrown at him, the stamina of both fighters should be commended, but it was the cleaner work of Leather that won him the final stanza.


It was a fiesty affair full of bad blood but a terrific twelve round contest to behold. Credit to Josh Leather, who had only been six rounds before tonight, but my initial thought was that Glenn Foot was the deserved winner. Both men may argue that they won and they’d certainly have a case (it was close and the point deductions did Foot no favours) there isn’t a boxing fan around who wouldn’t want to watch that one again although Josh Leather may now be in line to take on Jeff Saunders for the British Championship should it become vacant.


Scorecards read: 114-111, 113-112, 115-110 (two scorecards are baffling to be quite honest, there was a point in it at the most although most ringside believed Foot had won even despite the point deductions)


Ward retains the British Super Bantam Title


Thomas Patrick Ward successfully defended his British Super Bantamweight Championship with a unanimous decision over Sean Davis. Davis gains a lot of points for endeavour but he could not match the skillset of Ward, who used his excellent countering ability and footwork to stroll to a clear and decisive victory. Davis never stopped pouring forward, his tank is admirable, and he did have success at times with clipping shots although he was always reaching a little too far due to the long range of Ward, leaving himself open to counters. Ward did show signs of fatigue through round eight an Davis was able to land his most potent shots but the impact of those seemed to spur Ward back into action and keep control from there on out. Ward was cut over both eyes, seemingly due to head clashes, but hardly found himself on the end of any concussive punches from his challenger. Ward is no puncher (22-0 with 2 KO’s) and that is arguably why the fight went the distance, a little more spite and power in his shots could have finished Davis inside the distance just like Gamal Yafai did back in May. Ward is definitely one to watch, his movement, accuracy and repertoire of punches make him a tough night’s work for anyone on the domestic scene at the very least. A clash with the aforementioned Yafai could be destined for 2018.

Scorecards read: 117-112, 118-111 x2


Gorman takes out Soltby in 5


Nathan Gorman took the undefeated record of Mohamed Soltby and won the WBC International Championship with a fifth round stoppage. The first four rounds didn’t spark any real action, Gorman (now 11-0 9KO’s) the aggressor whilst Soltby tried to clinch every time they came in close in order to suffocate his opponent’s work, but Gorman remained patient before a big right uppercut in round five set in motion the end of proceedings. The German was rocked by the shot and tried to withdraw into his shell even more, even turning his back on Gorman, but the Blackpool fighter chased him to the ropes and landed two left hands that forced the referee into making a standing count. Soltby was cleared to continue but it was obvious he didn’t want any more punishment and was pushed back to the ropes where another onslaught from Gorman pressured the referee to call a halt to proceedings. Soltby offered very little in attack considering he came in with a 13-0 record.


Gorman, at only 21, is highly rated by a few in the industry and he could have big nights ahead, certainly at domestic level, but whether he is the elite of the crop waits to be seen. Gorman does have fast hands and solid movement for a man weighing in at 18st, a collision with Daniel Dubois or Joe Joyce in the next twelve months could produce fireworks.


Saunders in line for British 140lbs belt


Jeff Saunders and Steven Lewis contested a real battle of two halves in an eliminator for the British Super Lightweight strap, Saunders taking a unanimous decision after ten rounds. Saunders (now 12-0 with 6 KOs) started the fight brightly, using his superior speed and footwork to raid Lewis in the exchanges and work away with eye catching combinations. But Lewis was relentless in his approach, just walking forward and pushing Saunders back, and by halfway it started to pay dividends as Lewis looked the stronger man and was able to land more substantial shots as it seemed Saunders was tiring, a left hook as they exchanged in round six his most telling blow. The fight may well have been even after eight rounds but Saunders showed grit to dig deep and gain a second wind that just allowed him to sneak over the finish line. It wasn’t a fight that was filled with action, there weren’t a lot of highlight reel punches, but it was an honest and decent scrap between two men trying to push onto the next level. Lewis worked the body better than Saunders but the North East fight displayed a more impressive array of work that ultimately won him the day. Jack Catterall is the current British 140lbs fighter but is likely to vacate the belt in the coming months allowing Saunders to challenge for the belt against a yet to be determined opponent.

Scorecards read: 98-93, 96-95, 98-93


Undercard roundup


Mark Heffron made a statement at Super Middleweight as he became the first man to stop Lewis Taylor, halting the Dronfield fighter in seven rounds. It was Heffron’s biggest test to date and he passed it with flying colours, dropping Taylor twice in the second stanza and forcing him to stay down as the referee counted to ten. There may be big things to come in the future for the North West man (now 18-0 with 14 KO’s), don’t be surprised to see him perhaps contesting English titles and beyond from here on out. A fight between Heffron and Darryll Williams (current English champ) could be very interesting indeed.


Joe Maphosa scored a four round decision over Craig Derbyshire in a flyweight contest. Derbyshire just went eight rounds with former British Champion, Charlie Edwards so this was good experience for the Zimbabwean born Maphosa. Referee scored the bout: 40-37


Troy Williamson extended his unbeaten record to 5-0 (3 KOs) as he outpointed Miguel Aguilar over 6 rounds. Aguilar has mixed in good company so the rounds will do Williamson good in the long run, the Darlington Middleweight will be pushing toward area titles in the next year or so.

Referee scored the bout: 60-54


Sedgefield Cruiserweight, Michael Watson couldn’t have hoped for a better debut as he destroyed Hristo Yonev inside one round. Watson detonated a huge right hand on the Bulgarian, knocking him to the deck, and the away fighter could not answer the referee’s count.

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