By Danny Winterbottom
Derby’s Ovil McKenzie scoffed at prefight taunts labelling him a glorified journeyman as he blasted out a game but out gunned Tony Dodson in 66 seconds of the third round, in defence of his Commonwealth light heavyweight title at the Bowlers Arena in Manchester last night, Friday February 4.
The 31-year-old challenger, from the Garston area of Liverpool, figured his greater championship experience would prove too much for the crude and powerful titlist, but almost immediately it was apparent that McKenzie’s physical advantages and awkward style would give Dodson problems all night.
The ring walks of both men were a telling insight into their prospective moods as Dodson, wearing a Union Jack rope, looked edgy whilst the champion, entering the ring to Coolio’s “Gangsters Paradise” was smiling and laughing with trainer Jason Shinfield as he revelled in his status as the “Up setter.”
With almost the first punch thrown McKenzie (20-11) looked to take Dodson’s head off with a wild over hand right that missed by the proverbial mile. Dodson (28-7), with the majority of support in the arena, was expecting a fast start and used clinching to negate the champion’s offence but McKenzie’s sheer strength allowed him to shake free of the challenger’s clutches and start to land some heavy looking blows.
As the opener came to a close the Liverpudlian’s face was already bearing the evidence of leather on skin as a patch of reddening began to appear on his cheek.
Knowing he couldn’t risk trading with the champion Dodson started the second round boxing at range as he landed some nice right hands over the low held left of the Derby man. For the first time the champion looked fazed as Dodson again connected with a sweet right hand counter to the delight of his supporters, as he seemed to finally find his rhythm. As the bell signalled the end of the round Dodson returned to his corner with renewed confidence he could out box the slugger.
As a small trickle of blood gathered in the mouth of Dodson, McKenzie started the third with the intent of a man wanting to regain control of the action as a nicely timed right hand lead momentarily had an effect on the legs of Dodson as he staggered to the ropes with only 10 seconds of the round elapsed. The challenger managed to hold on but McKenzie sensed Dodson was there for the taking as a long jab followed by two rights hands to the head dropped the “Garston Warrior” to the canvas.
On one knee Dodson listened intently to the count of referee Victor Laughlin before regaining his feet at the count of nine and signalling he was ok to continue. McKenzie moved in for the finish as Dodson bravely fought back in a last stand but another huge right had him sagging on the ropes and almost out. Referee Laughlin jumped in to cradle Dodson, not before he had taken two or three unnecessary blows, calling time on the fight with 66 seconds of the third round gone. McKenzie had silenced his critics and made an emphatic first defence of his title.
The undercard action saw welterweight prospect Ronnie Heffron take his unbeaten record to 9-0 as he had too much of everything over 8x3’s for a brave but outclassed Ionut IIie (14-12). Heffron showed some classy moves as he stayed in the pocket and peppered his opponent with whipping uppercuts and a particularly damaging left to the liver. Indeed, after four rounds of punishment IIie succumbed to a beautifully delivered left hook downstairs that dropped him for the full 10 count. The 21-year-old is only a baby in boxing terms and could be in for a big 2012.
Elsewhere former England international amateur Warren Tansey (8-1) looked fortunate to escape with a win over crude put effective Emmanuel Moussinga of Birmingham who fell to a less than flattering 0-2 in a super middleweight contest scheduled for 6x3’s. Tansey looked flustered by the crude attacks of Moussinga who had success with the right hand. The Mancunian managed to land some punches of quality but to my eyes didn’t do enough to win the contest despite referee Steve Gray scoring 60-55.