By Andrew Wake at ringside: British bantamweight contender Josh Wale bounced back from the worst month of his life by recording his 13th pro win on Carl Greaves’ seven fight promotion at the Metrodome in Barnsley on Friday night.
Wale’s older brother Gwyn was stabbed multiplel times in a street attack at the end of August and spent several days fighting for his life. Naturally, this forced the Barnsley boxer to take some time out the ring to get his head straight.
But, cheered on by his recovering sibling, he ensured the grief didn’t reduce his boxing skills as he outworked Slovakian southpaw Elemir Rafael on way to a third round stoppage.
Wale, 23, charged out of the blocks in typical fashion and looked to finish the job early with strings of shots to the eastern European’s torso.
Rafael, though, clearly knows how to survive and did a good job of subduing Wale’s attacks with spoiling tactics. Frustrated the Yorkshireman wrestled him bundled him to the ground on two occasions before changing tact.
It’s often overlooked that Wale was a decent amateur and can box as well as fight. He began to work the space better in round two and by the third he was connecting with well thought out single shots.
A blast to the body made Rafael touch down and when the action resumed Wale pressed forward to close the show. At 2.57, and with the Slovak shipping blows against the ropes, referee Michael Alexander decided to intervene.
“He was the most awkward I’ve ever boxed. I had 42 fights in the amateurs and I’ve had 17 as a pro and he was the hardest I’ve faces style wise,” Wale said afterwards.
“I went to hit him and we was crouching over around my waist or grabbing hold. My dad saw him on Youtube and told me not to drop down to his level. I think the old Josh Wale might have thrown 1000 punches and that be that but I knew I had to use my boxing skills to break him down.
“I had to play it cleaver because I kept thinking that if I just went forward I could have ended up with a cut.”
Well supported debutant Joe Rodgers moved into the pro game in empathic fashion by blasting Plymouth’s Ben Morrish in two rounds.
21-year-old Rodgers, from nearby Sheffield, rocked his foe’s head back with a sharp one-two in the first round, causing a slight swelling near his right eye.
And he continued to rain in the big punches a session later before referee Howard Foster decided to step in. The time was 2.27.
Hometown light-middleweight Matthew Mallin took his ledger to 4 – 0 (1 KO) by scoring a shut-out 40-36 victory over Scunthorpe trier Steve Spence.
Mallin, who has the physic of a Greek statue, picked his shots well and controlled for the most part but at times had to withstand Spence’s own sporadic surges. A crisp right cross from Mallin in round three was the pick of the fight.
Another fighter winning every session in a four-threes encounter was York’s Lee Stewart
The now 2 – 0 (0 KOs) lightweight was given a tricky task at times by Nuneaton’s experienced southpaw Kristian Laight, but knuckled down well and mixed his shots between the head and body. Mr Foster had it a predictable 40 – 36.
Maltby’s Danny Gerrard also earned his second pro win when he outworked Louis Byrne to a take a 40 – 36 margin from Mr Alexander.
29-year-old Gerrard, who has a history in MMA, utilised his jab well at times but the fight did sometimes get scrappy. However, his better work rate and harder punching ensured that victory was his.