The boxing trade was divided in its opinion of who would prevail in the battle of the up and coming unbeaten force, Scott Quigg, and the been there and done it former world title challenger Rendall Munroe in a highly anticipated WBA interim super bantamweight showdown inside Manchester’s Velodrome on Saturday June 16.
Frustratingly for the fans in attendance and a Sky TV audience watching live, an accidental clash of heads 43 seconds into round number three opened a nasty looking laceration above the right eye of Munroe rendering him unable to continue on the advice of the ringside doctor. After some deliberation a technical draw was announced in accordance with WBA rules.
The contest started with both men probing for openings but it was Leicester’s Munroe, 8st 9lbs 8oz, who landed the more telling blows in the opening session. A two fisted attack to the body of the unbeaten 23-year-old Bury man saw him fire back with a right cross but Munroe showed a tight, hands up around his face defence to deflect the blow. The round was a close tactical affair as both men assessed the strength of the other.
Quigg, 8st 9lbs 12oz, upped the intensity of his attacks in the second as he let go with some classy shots from midrange, meeting the oncoming Munroe head on. Quigg had a concentrated expression etched across his face as if the realisation he was facing the toughest examination of his career to date was beginning to sink in.
The Bury man began to find a home for his jab in this session, doubling it up whenever the chance presented itself. The “Boxing Binman” was keen to set a fast pace as he pressured Quigg throughout, but the youngster picked the cleaner shots to even the contest up on my card and set the contest up nicely.
There was a sense of anticipation amongst those in attendance as both men came out for round three. The early “feeling out” sessions were over and this was when the contest would catch fire and we would see an intriguing battle to settle who was number one domestically at 8st 10lbs.
As both fighters exchanged blows near to the Munroe corner, a drip of blood replaced the usual spray of sweat as the former world champion was caught with a Quigg jab. Referee Howard Foster stepped in to break the action and Munroe, fearing the worst, indicated to Jason Shinfield in his corner that there had been a clash of heads.
Turning to face us in the press row the Leicester man had a horizontal gash above his right eye that was bleeding profusely and he was walked to the doctor waiting on the ring apron. It was evident Munroe would be unable to continue and the doctor confirmed everyone’s fears as Howard Foster waved the bout off.
After a couple of minutes whilst the officials made certain they were rendering the correct decision, MC Michael Pass announced a technical draw and in turn left the domestic super bantamweight division in limbo. The WBA interim title remains vacant.
In the first televised bout of the evening former European light middleweight champion Ryan Rhodes failed to regain his old title when he was shockingly halted by a body shot at 2 minutes 54 seconds of round number seven by the fists of power punching Belarusian Sergey Rabchenko.
Rhodes, facing the unusual situation of having his own promoter (Ricky Hatton) working the corner for his opponent, started the contest looking sharp and focused as he constantly beat his flat footed foe to the punch with quick southpaw left hands catching the unbeaten Rabchenko as he trundled forward.
Hatton was becoming frustrated with his charges inability to execute the game plan, shouting “slow, slow, explode” before Rhodes would time him with nicely picked uppercuts and sneaky hooks. Whenever Rabchenko had the older man pinned on the ropes Rhodes would dip and slip out of harm’s way of the crude attacks.
In round three Rhodes looked to have got on top as he hurt the Belarusian with a right hand. The former champion stepped in to deliver more punishing blows but was caught himself as he became reckless in searching for the finish. Rabchenko backed Rhodes to the ropes and landed some clubbing blows on any part of the Sheffield man’s head he could find.
Round four and Rhodes’ early domination of the contest was beginning to wane as Rabchenko’s constant stalking was having a visible effect on the movement of the 35-year-old. A mouse appeared under his right eye and he was shipping more clubbing blows from the younger man as he was unable to escape from the clutches of Rabchenko as he had in the earlier rounds.
“Make him work Sergey” was the instruction from the Rabchenko corner as round five commenced. The Belarusian started the session as a southpaw but soon switched back to orthodox before opening up with both hands on a trapped Rhodes. Rhodes was still landing the more eye catching single shots but it was the work rate and pressure of Rabchenko that was beginning to take over.
The sixth round saw more pressure from the Manchester based Rabchenko as Rhodes’ face was showing the signs of the heavy punches landed and his legs slowing.
In what turned out to be the final round, Rhodes showed he still had the class to land a beautifully picked straight left hand down the pipe that sent the spray from Rabchenko flying into ringside. After a brief exchange of punches Rhodes suddenly turned his back on Rabchenko and took a knee by the ropes.
As the Italian referee began to administer the count it became apparent Rhodes wouldn’t be able to continue, a right hand to the chest seemingly doing the damage.
“That was the hardest body punch I have taken in my career” Rhodes told Sky Sports after the fight.
After a bright start and in a contest he showed he still has the class to land some eye catching punches, at 35-years-old he was unable to hold off the hard punching Rabchenko who improves to 21-0 (16) whilst the former champion falls to 46-6 (31). The Sheffield switch hitter may consider his future from here
In the most entertaining fight of the night Hatton promoted heavyweight prospect Richard Towers, 16st 12lbs, somehow halted former Prizefighter contestant, Frenchman Gregory Tony, in round nine despite being on the verge of a stoppage loss in round five in a contest that witnessed some shocking officiating from Austrian referee Ernst Salzgeber. Tony was down five times in a quite calamitous contest that left team Towers with a lot of thinking to do.
Towers began the bout on the front foot as he looked to club Tony into submission. Not much in the way of technical skill was on display as Towers would telegraph the right hand as he pushed his left into the face of the Frenchman. Tony seemed initially over whelmed by the size and powers of the “Inferno”, as a straight right hand made him take a knee after a moment’s hesitation in round two.
A shake of the head directed at his corner seemed to indicate he wasn’t going to get up but to his full credit he beat the count and proceeded to take the fight to the Mancunian.
The third saw Tony’s confidence and appetite for the contest suddenly flourish as he found the key to victory. A left jab to the body followed by an over hand right would catch Towers repeatedly, bloodying his nose. Towers seemed unable to cope defensively when Tony put punches together, leaving his chin out to dry and without the skill to work on the inside. On the attack Towers telegraphed far too many of his punches allowing Tony to out punch him in the session.
The fourth saw Tony establish his jab forcing Towers to the ropes as the unbeaten man’s corner became increasingly worried.
Round five was incredible. Mostly for the wrong reasons as Towers was punished by some heavy Tony attacks along the ropes. The Frenchman was able to walk straight up to the Manchester man who possessed no jab of note and wail away with crude but effective, clubbing punches. On at least two occasions in the three minute session Towers should have been stopped. He was taking heavy unanswered punches and drunkenly stumbling around the ring as Tony chased after him. How referee Ernst Salzgeber allowed Towers to continue only he knows, but it was a potentially dangerous situation as the prospect took multiple clean punches from a near 17st man. The ineptitude of the officiating saw Tony think he had won the bout several times as the referee stopped the action whilst the Frenchman was punching for no apparent reason. Somehow Towers survived the session to the amazement of everyone in attendance.
Showing incredible guts if nothing else, Towers came back strongly in round six doing everything he could to stop Tony from working. Referee Ernst Salzgeber again lost control of the fight on occasions as he allowed Towers to punch behind the head and on the break as Tony complained. The Frenchman had expelled a lot of energy in round five as he looked for the finish and was now suffering for it, huffing and puffing as Towers came back into the fight.
In the seventh Towers caught Tony with a cuffing left hook that dropped him onto all fours but it was ruled a slip and no count was administered. Towers began to bleed from the mouth as Tony found a second wind and fired a right hand into the face of the local favourite.
Both men were showing signs of tiredness as they began to clinch each other instead of punching in round eight. Tony began to suffer the most as three he went down in the session without a clean punch landing and he began to complain of an arm injury to his corner.
Essentially he was done and looking for a way out.
Predictably 48 seconds into round number nine Tony signalled to the referee he was unable to continue due to an injury to his right bicep and Towers had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in quite incredible fashion. For some reason the bout was declared a TKO victory for Towers when Tony had essentially quit.
Martin Murray returned to action for the first time since his draw with Felix Sturm for the WBA world title with a professional ten round decision over French middleweight champion Karim Achour. Murray started the bout cautiously before stepping up the action running out a 98-93 victor on referee Steve Gray’s card. Achour was busy throughout and came to win but the extra class and accuracy of the St Helens man shone through. Murray will have been pleased with the work out as he is rumoured to have a big fight on the horizon.
Other results from a packed undercard were as follows:
Louis Norman WPTS 4 Delroy Spencer (bantamweights) 40-36
Adam Etches WTKO 2 Ferenc Zold (middleweights)
Scott Jenkins WPTS 4 Kristian Laight (lightweights) 40-36
Craig Watson WPTS 6 Tomasz Mazurkiewicz (light middleweights) 60-56 (both men down in round three)
Lucas Browne WKO 1 Hastings Rasani (heavyweights) (Rasani dropped heavily by a huge right hand after just 44 seconds)
Adam Little WPTS 6 Dee Mitchell (light middleweights) 60-55
Kallum De’Ath WPTS 4 Adil Alfadi (super bantamweights) 40-36 (Alfadi down once in round four)