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18 OCTOBER 2017

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Spence Stops Brook In 11/Groves Claims WBA Super Middleweight Crown


pic Amanda Westcott/Showtime
pic Amanda Westcott/Showtime

By Steve Bateson: Errol Spence Jnr stopped Kell Brook in the eleventh round to win the IBF Welterweight Championship at Bramall Lane, Sheffield on Saturday night.

 

It was a terrific back and forth fight, swinging to and fro, but in the end it was Kell Brook’s left eye, not the right that was injured against Gennady Golovkin last year, that proved his down fall and handed the strap to Spence. Some questions before the fight surrounded if Brook’s eye socket would hold up after sustaining damage, I don’t think anybody anticipated his other eye going instead.

 

The fight started with a feeling out process but it was Brook who broke into an early lead with his fabulous right hand counter punching and body attacks. The Texan seemed fazed and lost by Brook’s physical approach, he was made to miss badly at times, but kept to his task, manfully, as he continuously touched Brook to the body in a hope of slowing him down. The tactic started to pay dividends from round seven onward as Brook slowed dramatically and started to take a lot of punches from his younger foe. Round eight started with the cameras on the damage under Brook’s eye, the danger signs flashing red, and every attack from Spence there on out seemed to cause the hometown fighter pain and discomfort. Brook, who proved his warrior tendencies last September, continued to stand and trade with Spence but it was becoming increasingly obvious that his championship was slipping from his grasp. A hook on the ropes in round nine momentarily stunned Brook and he took more punishment before the bell sounded to spare him more. Round ten will go down as one of the best three minutes this year, Brook dropped early from a barrage of shots and forced to absorb a cacophony of shots but still he fought back and roared on by his passionate fans he answered Spence’s assault with one of his own, for a moment the American looked punched out although Brook could not capitalise. Brook landed a huge uppercut in close at the start of round eleven but this was not a repeat of Joshua-Klitschko as Spence stood up to the shot and poured on the pressure, Brook finally succumbing to the damage to his eye and he took to a knee once more. he intimated to his corner that he could not see and referee Howard Foster administered a ten count.

 

Errol Spence was touted as superstar before this fight and he proved his credentials on away soil, cementing his position as one of, if not the best 147lber on the planet. I worry for Kell Brook for two different reasons; the first is his eyew because I just don’t know if that damage is irreparable and if it is then this might just be the last time we see him in a boxing ring. He has suffered breaks to both orbital bones now and they are not the kind of injuries you just bounce back from. The second reason is that he cannot surely fight at Welterweight anymore, his energy levels just weren’t there from halfway, and if he does continue then it has to be at 154lbs from here on out.

 

This night belongs to Spence Jnr, who deserves massive credit for travelling for this fight and ripping the title from Brook in the lions’ den, a unification with Keith Thurman has to be the next on the list. These are the fights that we want to see in boxing and it did not disappoint.

 

George Groves is the WBA Super Middleweight Champion, decimating Fedor Chudinov within six rounds of a fantastic contest. The fight started at one hell of a pace and it never let up, Chudinov constantly on the front foot and displaying his toughness but in the end he had no answer to the power and counter punching of the "Saint". It has been a long road to the mountain top for Groves, three world title losses before this, but he has fully earned and deserved his championship status. The Russian may have won the first round, just edging on workrate and strength, but Groves took every round from there on out and ended it with a fifteen second flurry of brutal, unanswered, right hands, the same shots that somehow Carl Froch managed to withstand. Each round was close and Groves was forced to eat some heavy leather but he withstood whatever came his way and then some, there are those who believed he was in trouble around round two but I never saw any danger signs. Groves stiffened Chudinov with a right hand in round four, showing dents could be made in his foe, and he came out like a man possessed in the sixth, throwing caution to the wind as he closed the show on his world title aspirations. Groves has been a fighter revived and rejuvenated since teaming up with Shane McGuigan and all his hard work has finally paid off, I was stood on my feet by the end. Chudinov is a tough, tough man and he never stopped coming forwards but Groves worked well off his jab and his body punching opened the door to the brutal finish. Groves was cut from a head clash in the fourth round but there was no stopping him tonight, he stood toe to toe with Chudinov and showed that any questions of his susceptibility and poor workrate are a thing of the past. I cannot list enough superlatives on this display from Groves, he was near enough punch perfect, and I look forward to yet more huge nights for UK boxing in the 168lbs division. James DeGale is the IBF Champion, Callum Smith may be the WBC Champion by September....need I say anymore, the prospects are endless and mouthwatering!

 

Groves showed so much class in the ring and his post-match interview, dedicating the victory to Eduard Gutknecht, whom still remains in poor health after his loss to Groves last year.

 

Joe Cordina completed a hat-trick of former Team GB wins with a first round retirement win over Josh Thorne, albeit another slightly controversial finish. Cordina started well, displaying his lightning combos and speed, but it was a punch that landed after the referee called break that sent Thorne crashing to his knees. If you watch the replays back though it was Thorne who threw the first punch after the call was made and was using his head in close, on this occasion I see no complaints. The round reached its conclusion and Thorne’s corner made it clear to the referee that their fighter could not continue, citing a headache and an ear injury. Cordina was always going to stroll to victory in this one and I’m once again going to make it clear that Eddie Hearn needs to step these fighters up, they have already fought the elite as amateurs and they do not need to be treading water against opposition so beneath their level.

 

Lawrence Okolie made it three knockouts from three wins, all inside round one, against Rudolf Helesic. It was a battle of the undefeated fighters, both 2-0 at the start, and it began at a whirlwind pace as the fighters threw heavy leather. Okolie took a few punches, something I’ve remarked on before, but he was able to just walk through and dropped the Czech with a right hand on the ropes. Helesic beat the count and came bombing forward again but was taken out with another right hand counter to the top of the head as he reached in too far, prompting the referee to halt the contest. Okolie is exciting, he certainly loves to fight, but in a division that is well known for its heavy hitters he will need to demonstrate his defensive skills as he progresses in class.

 

Anthony Fowler’s debut fight ended with a first round stoppage of Arturs Geikins. It was a demolition in reality but the bout wasn’t without controversy, there will be those that believe the former Team GB Captain should have been disqualified after landing an extremely late right hand whilst his opponent was on the deck. I have to be honest my initial reaction was DQ and it was much worse than the "late" blow landed by Uzcategui on Dirrell last week, Fowler can consider himself lucky. I’m very excited for Fowler, I think he all the attributes to be a top star, but he will need to curb his hype if he is to avoid punishment in the future. Geikins was no match and he was quickly blasted out after rediscovering his feet, Fowler will be given much sterner tests from here on out. The former Commonwealth gold medalist has fast hands, concussive power, and tremendous footwork so one would hope that Eddie Hearn won’t keep him under wraps for too long.

 

Lenroy Thomas decisioned David Allen over twelve rounds to win the vacant Commonwealth Championship. The bout won’t live long in the memory, it was messy, but Thomas’ cleaner work and snappier jab won him the day. The early rounds were edgy and devoid of much action but Allen, using his weight advantage, started to pour forwards from the midway and bully his opponent, aiming huge right hooks and uppercuts at Thomas whilst pushing him into the ropes. Thomas was the more technically gifted and agile fighter and although he did not possess the power or snap to keep his relentless foe off him he was scoring punches, Allen has a tremendous chin and decent engine but he just does not possess quality defense. Allen needs to use a little more defense, using his face will shorten his career, and he should already know that from the two prior losses on his ledger. Thomas lost a point for low blows whilst Allen was often guilty of using his elbows and forearms in close, constantly laying on Thomas on the ropes, keeping referee Terry O’Connor busy throughout. Sam Sexton and Gary Cornish are set to contest the British Title sometime soon and Allen is definitely a threat to them but I think, even at just 25, that will be his limit due to his very predictable and plodding style. For Thomas, I think it’s likely we’ll see him back on these shores defending his belt soon, maybe even in a re-match as it was a close fight although I back the judges’ decision 100%.

Scorecards read: 115-114 for Thomas

115-113 for Allen

115-114 for Thomas

 

Jamie Cox marked his Matchroom debut by winning the WBA Continental Title, outpointing Lewis Taylor over eight rounds after a cut stopped proceedings early. Cox is a fighter I am a big fan of, I think he has been overlooked in the Super Middle division, but he will need better performances than this one if he is to be a force domestically and internationally. Cox was always the come forward fighter but he was guilty of being overeager and rushing his work, not using his jab enough to set up his work, whilst neglecting his defense at times. Both men clashed heads frequently and Taylor was cut in the hairline from the first round but it was a nasty gash over his eye that called a halt to proceedings. The result was never in doubt but Cox will want to tighten up and sharpen his game as his challenges improve, especially seeing as though a British Title challenge against Rocky Fielding seems to be the next step of his career and he is too easy to hit to start thinking about anything at a higher level just now. Cox and Fielding are both big hitters and Fielding has vulnerability so that should be a tasty encounter.

Scorecards read: 88-83 x2

87-84

 

Barnsley’s Andy Townend stopped Jon Kays within two rounds of their Commonwealth Championship clash, although Townend missed weight and therefore cannot be called champion despite the win. Townend was on the front foot from the beginning and his power punching was evident early doors, constantly backing Kays up and bullying him. In the second round it was a solid left hook from the man known as the "KO Kid" that shook Kays to his very foundations and after a barrage on the ropes it was a right hand that finally felled him. Kays was clearly hurt and although he tried to cover up and fight back he was no match for his bigger punching foe, another big right hand sent Kays crashing to the deck. Kays beat the referee’s count but his corner threw in the towel and made the official’s choice for him. Townend will now head up to lightweight and domestically he is an entertaining scrapper, 13 stoppages in his 19 wins.




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