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18 NOVEMBER 2018

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Tete Victoroius Against Negative Narvaez

By Steve Bateson: Zolani Tete successfully defended his WBO Bantamweight Championship with a drab unanimous shutout decision over Omar Narvaez on the Frampton Vs Donaire undercard on Saturday.


The criticism of the fight is more aimed at the challenger rather than champion, Narvaez seemingly content to defend and protect himself from as much damage as possible as he spent the majority of the fight skirting the action and refusing to engage. The referee would have been quite within his rights to stop the bout anytime from round four onwards when it became glaringly obvious that Narvaez had nothing to offer.


Tete (now 27-3 with 21 KO’s) controlled the pace and distance with his vastly superior height and reach advantage, able to just keep Narvaez on the end of his jab and in his shell. Tete showed signs and glimpses of his technique occasionally bringing his left hand into play and attacking the body during the times in which both fighters came within punching distance of each other.


Narvaez, now 42, is a veteran of 32 world title fights and has held world championships at two different weight classes but majorly disappointed in this effort, in reality he should count himself extremely lucky to be able to mix in this kind of company ever again. He did not come to Belfast with the aim to win, rather just survive, and if he did then the sheer daunting task in front of him must have rendered him completely useless at the sound of the opening bell.


There can be no blame on Narvaez for being cautious early, physically he was inferior in all departments, however by halfway when it was clear he had lost every single round and landed less than half a dozen punches you would start to believe there could be even an ounce of ambition but there was nothing. Belfast is a proud fighting city and the paying customers deserved more, this was nothing short of a shambles and embarrassingly called a world title fight.


There will be criticism aimed at the champion too, and perhaps justifiably so, as he failed to up the pace against an inferior and lacklustre opponent of whom he should have dismissed with ease and sheer contempt for wasting his time.


Tete and his team have proclaimed him the best Bantamweight on the planet, maybe he is, but on this evidence more proof will be needed. He was always in control and his footwork was exemplary but he had an opportunity to showcase himself and he really didn’t do himself or his status any justice. There is talk of a World Boxing Super Series at this weight class and Frank Warren needs to sign his man up, if only to get him in the ring with somebody who will throw punches back. The whole boxing world is clamouring to see Tete and Ryan Burnett clash in a unification bout and the knockout tournament may be the only way to make that a reality.


Narvaez sat in his corner at the end of round eight with a cut over the bridge of his nose, from eating countless jabs, but he had barely broken a sweat and his breathing was nothing more than normal and standard. That should tell you everything you need to know about his appalling effort or lack there of, he should return to Argentina ashamed and hopefully never return. He was mandatory so Tete had to honour the fight or relinquish his belt but you can search the Bantamweight rankings and find a hundred plus fighters who would have gone hell for leather for such an opportunity.


Tete’s team will say it was a measured and composed display, I’d call it a cure for insomnia.


Scorecards read: 120-108 x3 (shock horror! In reality it should have been 120-0 but unfortunately the rules don’t work that way)


David Oliver Joyce scored a sixth round stoppage over a resolute Jordan Ellison in a bout that was scheduled for eight. Joyce was in control of the contest from the beginning to end however the stoppage was extremely premature as Ellison was barely stunned or remotely rocked by anything that was thrown his way, one can only assume the referee saw no way back for Ellison at that stage and believed it was time to call it a day. Joyce (7-0 with 6 KO’s) showed excellent punch variety and handspeed but at 31 years old it will be expected that his calibre of opposition is stepped up quite dramatically if he is to have the kind of success as a professional that was expected from him as an amateur.


Dublin’s Luke Keeler produced a sensational display as he outclassed Conrad Cummings to win the WBO European Middleweight Championship over ten rounds.


Keeler, who was cut badly over the left eye, fought at a tremendous pace from bell to bell and walked away a deserved winner in what many will consider an upset.


Cummings began the fight working well off the jab and then landed a solid right hand before both men exchanged sharp left hooks to end round one.


Cummings was coming forward in straight lines though, displaying no head movement, and Keeler took full advantage with vicious blows to head and body from the second onward. Keeler ploughed a straight right through the guard of his foe and then used the ropes well to avoid a forward march from Cummings. An overhand right at the end of the second stanza momentarily stiffened the legs of the Northern Irishman but he took it well.


The next three rounds seemed to follow the same pattern as Keeler bamboozled Cummings with terrific footwork and then burst forward with crunching raids to head and body. Cummings was displaying tremendous grit and toughness, never wilting from the damage being inflicted upon him, but he was winning no points for the beating he was sustaining.


Keeler was cut over both eyes in round six from accidental head clashes and the left especially was horrific, blood pouring into his eye and clearly affecting his vision, but still Cummings could not pin him down long enough to turn the contest in his favour. Keeler’s corner and, in particular, his cutman should be given an award for the work they did in between rounds because Keeler looked likely to be stopped on the severity of his injury but they reversed his fortunes and got him over the finish line.


Cummings was beginning to pour on the pressure a little more but Keeler walked him onto another punishing right hand and seemed to gain his composure back, taking what little hope that Cummings may have glimpsed. Keeler was playing to the crowd now and although he was briefly stunned in round nine he was never in any serious danger despite the awful injuries that he was forced to fight through.


Both men fought at a brilliant pace and deserve the appreciation of the boxing community for an excellently entertaining fight. Cummings desperately needs to work on his defence, he just walked onto shot after shot, whilst Keeler will look ahead to bigger fights, with entertaining displays like that nobody will begrudge him a shot at a domestic title.


Scorecards read: 98-92, 97-93, 99-91


Tyrone McKenna edged out Anthony Upton in an all Belfast Welterweight derby, avenging a split decision defeat from their amateur days. It was a classic quantity versus quality kind of fight with McKenna’s relentless approach up against the counter punching tactics of Upton and most of the rounds proved extremely difficult to call, a ninth round knockdown from McKenna proving the difference when all was said and done.


McKenna started the fight on the front foot and was using his jab to gauge the distance whilst Upton seemed happy to sit back on the ropes and look for counter openings. Upton delivered a neat counter left hook in the second as McKenna got a little reckless but Tyrone was constantly allowing his hands to flow whilst Upton remained committed to throwing single shots that weren’t catching the eye despite often finding the target.


Upton’s workrate did seem to slow with the constant and relentless pace of McKenna, who was starting to hit the body as he pinned Upton to the ropes more often, but still there wasn’t a lot in the rounds to split the fighters. Neither man was building a highlight reel of stunning punches and through halfway it looked as though the fight was in the balance.


McKenna was starting to find a home for his left hand more often and then a right hand in round seven caught Upton around the guard and was followed up by some impressive body attacks. Upton was still relying on one or two punches and although he was picking holes in McKenna’s defense it wasn’t enough to sway rounds in which he was constantly on the backfoot and under fire.


The ninth round saw both men come out swinging and McKenna landed a sharp left hook to the body which was subsequently followed by a head clash and then a left and right hook to the jaw of Upton that forced him to take a knee. It wasn’t clear which impact caused the knockdown but the damage was done and Upton was more than likely left needing a stoppage to swing the bout back in his favour.


Upton did continue to meet McKenna head on as the fight drew toward its conclusion but in the end Upton’s punch output arguably let him down and allowed McKenna to steal the close rounds on his mobility and outlay.


Scorecard read: 98-92 (very wide in my opinion)


Steven Ward punched his way through Poland’s Michal Ciach in three of a scheduled six, adding another "W" to the hometown column. The "Quiet Man" is a neat boxer and put his shots together well to take apart the game but overmatched foe. Ward (now 7-0 with 3 KO’s) and his team may look toward the vacant Celtic Light Heavyweight Title for his next fight before stepping him up any further.


Sam Maxwell continues to make waves at 140lbs as he demolished Isaac Carrero in the very first round. Maxwell couldn’t miss with the right hand over the guard and one in particular bomb landed around the temple and dropped his foe to his knees, bringing the fight to an early conclusion. It is still very much a learning process for Liverpool’s Maxwell (7-0 with 6 KO’s) but he is walking through lower levels of competition in a manner that suggests there is much more to come from him.


Belfast’s own Marco McCullough took a comfortable albeit scrappy, one sided, six rounder over Arnoldo Solano. McCullough was originally scheduled to clash with Jono Carroll in one of the most anticipated fights of the night but due to a Carroll injury McCullough was forced to take on this late replacement, and the disappointment showed as McCullough looked frustrated against an awkward opponent, loading up too often at times and missing wildly against the Nicaraguan veteran although some of his body work was impressive. McCullough (19-4 with 11 KO’s) may hope the Carroll bout can be rescheduled, it is certainly something most fight fans would love to see. The referee scored the bout : 60-53


Derry’s Tyrone McCullagh made light work of Elvis Guillen of Nicaragua, taking care of business in the third round as the referee to stepped in to halt a relentless onslaught. Guillen has taken fighters such as Joe Ham, Isaac Lowe and Thomas Patrick Ward the distance but succumbed to McCullagh (10-0 with 6 KO’s), who was desperate to put on a show for his fellow Northern Irishmen. McCullagh and the aforementioned Ham will fight for the vacant Super Bantamweight Celtic title on June 30th.


Darlington’s Troy Williamson dispatched of Christian Hoskin Gomez in four rounds of a scheduled six at the middleweight limit. Gomez was coming off the back of a surprise victory over Lee Churcher two weeks ago and has gone the distance with a few of Britain’s up and coming fighters but was no match for the power punching of Williamson (6-0 with 4 KO’s).


Alex Dickinson kept his unblemished record intact as he steamrolled through Lee Carter in the very first round of their scheduled four. The big punching Liverpudlian (now 5-0 with 3 KO’s) landed a left to the side of the head and then detonated a right straight down the pipe within the first minute of the bout, leaving Carter unable to answer the count. Dickinson was a standout as an amateur, capturing an ABA Elite Title, and will be looking to propel himself into area championship levels within the next 12-18 months.


Ryan Hatton made it three wins from three professional fights as he drilled Hungary’s Attila Tibor Nagy in the opening bout at the SSE Arena. Hatton has stopped all three of his paid opposition and is being highly touted as a prospect to watch in the Super Middleweight division.

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