By Steven Bateson
Anthony Yarde continued his rise to world honours with a fifth round stoppage of Travis Reeves at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday night.
Yarde is now in a mandatory position to challenge WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Sergey Kovalev and there are indications that he and his team will push for that fight; even if there are many that question whether he is yet to fight the calibre of opposition that would prepare him for such an escapade.
At the opening bell it was once again apparent just how big Yarde was in comparison to his opponent, Yarde is known to struggle with 175lbs, and although Reeves gave a very game performance he was nowhere physically capable of putting a dent in the "Beast from the East".
Yarde sank a right to the body after a cuffing left hook to the top of the head and another big time right hand had Reeves backing off. The American tried to answer back with shots of his own but they just seemed to bounce of Yarde’s huge frame.
Reeves did have success at times and landed more shots than anyone has to this date on Yarde but one has to wonder is that down to poor defence or the fact Yarde knew he couldn’t be hurt. A right hand in the second did momentarily stiffen Reeves’ legs but he quickly recovered despite also receiving a thudding left hook to the body.
Yarde showed patience as Reeves tries to frustrate him and get on the inside, working to the body, but every time he landed his power punches it was clear that he was having an effect on the visitor. Reeves deserves credit for his heart and grit but he wasn’t winning a round.
One thing to note is Yarde’s lack of jab, he instead chooses to adopt a lead left hook in order to prise his openings. Against the elite level at 175lbs that will not be possible, he is going to need to work on that fundamental skill because otherwise he is going to have a lot of trouble when challenging for the biggest prizes.
The end came in the fifth when a giant right hand finally buckled the legs of Reeves and sent him back to the ropes. Yarde followed up with another right hand and another left hook that prompted the referee to throw himself into the mix and stop the bout there and then.
Yarde (now 18-0 with 17 KOs) is dispatching low level opposition with ease and it is time for him to step up and prove what he is capable of. He is now in position to fight for a world title but an interim bout against a fringe level contender may be useful in order to answer more questions about Yarde’s capability within that echelon. There is also the big question of whether he can fight at a higher tempo because right now he seems quite once paced and that is something else he cannot afford to be against world championship fighters. Yarde and his team often talk up his lack of amateur and professional experience, maligning anyone who questions his opposition levels, and yet say that he is more than ready for a world title. Time will tell who is right and who is wrong; there are a lot more questions than answers once again.
Liam Williams absolutely demolished Joe Mullender in the second round of his first defence of the British Middleweight Championship.
Williams, who stopped Mark Heffron in December to win the belt, was the clear favourite going into the bout and had promised a knockout; he didn’t disappoint on that count as he left Mullender out cold.
The first round saw Mullender marching forward in his usual style as he attempted to back Williams up the ropes and turn it into a real dogfight. But Williams was pivoting away well and working his jab before sinking sickening bodyshots time and time again. Mullender’s body was already reddened after the first three minutes from constant attacks and Williams ended the round with a heavy right to the temple that he brought in behind his jab.
The gulf in class was quite apparent when the fight was first announced but not many predicted the fashion of the finish. Mullender was trying to bully his man and rough him up on the inside, without much success, but Williams backed him up with a combination and then rocked him to his core with a sensational right uppercut. Mullender was all at sea and desperately tried to cover up as Williams followed with almost a dozen hooks that eventually felled his man on his face. Mullender was able to just about beat the count but his legs were extremely unsteady; the referee should have waved it off. The official made the choice to allow the challenger to continue but Williams literally just marched over to him and uncorked a ferocious right hand that left him flat on his back and unconscious.
The official will come in for some criticism after that knockout, Mullender went down on his face hard, first time around and automatically that should be a big danger sign. Williams (now 20-2-1 with 15 KO’s) had some choice words for the referee following the stoppage. It was destructive from Williams and demonstrated that he is a force at a domestic level from both 154-160lbs. The question now is whether or not he can make the step up to European and beyond to show exactly what he is capable of. Williams’ two most high profile fights ended in defeat (both to Liam Smith) but he believes he has what it takes to be a world champion. The job for Frank Warren now is to plot a path for him and decide which weight class he is going to stick to.
Daniel Dubois sent out a clear message to the Heavyweight division as he destroyed Razvan Cojanu inside two rounds.
Dubois started out behind his jab and was looking to establish dominance from the outset. Cojanu was backing up on the ropes, inviting the pressure, whilst trying to pick gaps with counterpunches but Dubois was already finding the target. The left hook over the guard was whiskers away from landing but Dubois did not miss with two heavy right hands, coming in behind the jab and rocking Cojanu’s head back.
Cojanu looked up for the fight and was happy to exchange on the inside but a left hand out of the clinch had him blinking in displeasure at the beginning of the second. Dubois scored with a chopping right hand whilst both men were throwing and then within a blink of an eye the show was closed. Dubois backed his man up and slammed a heavy right through the guard before scoring with a left to the body that strayed precariously low. The referee did not pick up on the infringement and Dubois followed up with another left hook, left to the body and a devastating right to the jaw that folded Cojanu up. The Romanian was slumped backwards with his legs underneath him, staring into space, and the referee made the correct decision to wave it off.
This is a big statement from the 21 year old Dubois (now 10-0 with 9 KO’s) who is one of the brightest prospects in British and world boxing. Last year he took some criticism for going 12 rounds with Kevin Johnson but tonight he displayed a great killer instinct and an impressive punch selection when he had his man hurt. Cojanu went 12 rounds with Joseph Parker in 2017 and with Nathan Gorman just last December. All the talk is now that Dubois and Gorman should be meet in a mouth watering battle of the prospects and promoter Frank Warren has promised that showdown will take place this year. Dubois is the big puncher whilst Nathan Gorman is more of a boxer; it has all the makings of a tremendous domestic clash.
Chris Jenkins produced a career best performance to strip Johnny Garton of the British Welterweight Title.
Garton was the favourite heading into the bout but Jenkins was on song from bell to bell and demonstrated his often overlooked boxing ability to secure the prestigious Lonsdale strap.
The opening round saw both try to establish their jabs, feeling one another out, but it was Jenkins doubling it up that was catching the eye. Jenkins brought two heavy right hands in behind the jab at the end of the stanza to underpin his early success.
Garton was trying to close the distance and slug it out but Jenkins was moving out of range and picking his man off. Garton landed a right hand in the second but it was reciprocated in kind by the challenger and then followed up by a left hook from the Welshmen. The defending champion was hoping to drag his opponent into a firefight but even in the pocket it was Jenkins who was quicker to the punch.
Garton did have a little more success in rounds three and four as he was able to push Jenkins back on the ropes and bang away to the body. The champion was starting to impose his will and a solid right hand after feinting with the left in the fourth brought the bout level.
But that intensity started to fade again in the fifth as Jenkins was able to get back behind his jab and control the rhythm. Jenkins slammed a right hand over Garton’s guard and then in the sixth he snapped a terrific uppercut under the chin of the champion, the Welshman was once again pulling himself into a healthy lead.
Garton was pressing and on the front foot but he looked devoid of ideas as he walked into Jenkins’ shots at will. Jenkins may have not been hurting his man but he was picking up rounds at will and slowly stripping the champion of his belief. Garton’s left eye began to trickle blood after sustained jabs and he walked onto a knee-trembling short range right hand at the end of
Jenkins finally made a dent in Garton in the ninth as two successive right hands stopped the defending champion in his tracks. Garton’s lack of head movement was costing him and playing straight into Jenkins’ hands. Jenkins followed up with a blistering combination to head and body and by the end of the round it was clear Garton was chasing a knockout.
The problem was he didn’t seem to know how to close the distance in order to make it happen. Jenkins was oozing confidence that was underlined by a left uppercut/right cross combination in the tenth, he was beating Garton to the punch from the outside and on the inside.
Garton did give it his all in the final six minutes and he never stopped applying pressure but it was too little too late. He had more success to the head and body as Jenkins’ movement slowed but every time he landed a punch it was answered back by two more from the hungry challenger. The crowd in attendance gave a standing ovation to both men as they went punch for punch in the final three minutes but Garton could not find the hail mary to swing proceedings in his favour.
It was a very watchable fight but there was only one clear winner when it was all said and done. Garton drops to (23-2-1) whilst Jenkins improves his record to (21-3-2). The domestic 147lbs division is wide open right now, plenty of contenders to step up, but there is a high likelihood that Jenkins will be looking at a defense against Conor Benn sometime later this year.
Scorecards read: 119-109, 116-112, 117-112