By Steve Bateson
Charlie Edwards made a successful first defence of his WBC Flyweight Championship with a dominant unanimous shutout decision over Spain’s Angel Moreno at the Copper Box, London on Saturday night.
It was an exquisite boxing display from the Croydon man as he controlled proceedings from the first bell to the last against a tough and rugged, albeit limited, challenger.
Moreno started in bizarre fashion by walking forwards, hands down, and opting to stand in range as Edwards teed off and pot shotted at will. Edwards kept his composure, despite the strange tactics of his opponent, and continued to use his jab to control the distance and pace.
Moreno was calling his man on and trying to engage him in a firefight but Edwards was more than content to stay on the backfoot and counter punch. Moreno didn’t have the style to adapt and obliged the champion by marching forward and being caught constantly by a tremendous right uppercut and flashy combination punching.
Edwards may not carry explosive power (now 15-1 with 6 KO’s) but with the arsenal and punch variety he possesses he proved he can completely outclass a world ranked opponent and will stand him in great stead for the bigger and sterner tests that are to come at this weight and beyond.
The fight followed the same pattern throughout as Moreno plodded forward, happy to throw punches, but the unable to land anything of note or in fact anything really at all that would worry Edwards in the slightest. The pace was frenetic but neither man slowed down an iota as Edwards continued to dance and pump out his jab before letting his hands go with blistering accuracy.
As the rounds wore on Edwards found himself in such a comfort zone that he reversed the positions and took the fight to Moreno, pushing the challenger back to the ropes and beating him at his own game. Moreno’s one modicum of success came in round seven when he was able to bully Edwards back to the ropes for a moment but in the blink of an eye Edwards had rolled his body away from danger and took back the centre of the ring.
Moreno touched the canvass in round eight for a legitimate knockdown; he wasn’t hurt by the punch but the right hand was enough to take his balance away and the referee rightly initiated the count. The Spaniard complained but it fell on deaf ears as he went back to chasing shadows around the ring.
It was a classic performance from Edwards and although many will slate his calibre of opponent he can be afforded one voluntary defence of a newly won crown before tackling the big names in his pool. Edwards has stated many times that he’d like to win world titles at multiple weights and has said Andrew Selby and Kal Yafai are top of his list for domestic showdowns in the near future if they are willing to meet him.
All three judges scored the bout: 120-107 x3
Joshua Buatsi destroyed Liam Conroy in three rounds to become the British Light Heavyweight Champion.
Buatsi, in only his tenth professional fight, is another Olympian who has been touted for greatness and he wasted no time here in taking another step towards the big time; vanquishing a very live opponent in devastating circumstances.
Buatsi was all about business from the off as he snapped off a hurtful jab and then a warning shot right hand cuffed the top of Conroy’s head, any lower and he may just have completely scrambled his senses. Conroy then walked onto another meaty looking right hand and it seemed as though the writing may be on the wall for a quick blowout but he stuck to the task resolutely and fired back with heavy blows of his own to head and body. Buatsi, however, was in control and looked as crisply clinical as ever.
The handspeed of Buatsi is another of his array of attributes that was on display as he landed a head snapping right hand in the second round after Conroy had just parried a left hand. The Barrow man was showing resolve and grit though as he bit down on his gumshield and fought back with aplomb. Buatsi seemed even more invigorated off of Conroy’s effort and he beat his chest in respectful appreciation of his rival’s determination.
But Conroy’s ability to hang tough disappeared in the third as Buatsi drove a right hand around his guard, dipping his knees to the canvass, and then a solid left as he rose again had him sprawled on the deck. Conroy looked hurt but he dragged himself up and insisted he was good to continue. The referee waved them on and Conroy threw caution to the wind but ate another crushing right that dropped him face-first. He did beat the count for the second time but the referee had seen enough and declared Buatsi the victor.
It is clear that Buatsi is a potential star in the making and after just ten fights he can afford to take his time at domestic level, where there is some tremendous competition,, before challenging himself at the higher level that he will ultimately belong. It is early stages but he appears to be the total package and will be involved in huge nights in the future at 175lbs.
Lawrence Okolie added the Commonwealth Cruiserweight Title to his British with a fourth round knockout over Wadi Camacho.
Okolie has come in for some criticism in recent fights over his spoiling tactics but he was more aggressive from the outset here and gradually broke down Camacho in what was a fairly one sided fight.
The Olympian was sending the right hand to the body from round one and looking to drive home the same punch upstairs as Camacho tried to avoid substantial damage. Camacho was confident, himself, and happy to trade with Okolie but a solid left hook counter in the first three minutes demonstrated the difference in power between the two men; Camacho was forced to hold momentarily until the danger passed.
Camacho was the man engaging in the clinches and trying to make it scrappy but Okolie was too strong and bullish, dragging himself free of his opponent’s clutches and hurting him again with two solid right hands in the second round. Camacho, to his credit, was not backing down from the fight but it was clear that he was more banking on landing a lottery shot.
For a moment it seemed like he landed it in the third when he caught Okolie with a clean left hook but the defending British champion passed the chin test and answered back with a big time right hand of his own. Okolie was warned briefly for hitting his man behind the head and it should be noted that the ugly side of his game hasn’t disappeared despite a more adept performance here tonight. Okolie is a huge Cruiserweight and a little ungainly when he comes forward, it causes him to hit opponents with elbows, forearms and shoulders when he swings away. It is something that could cause him disciplinary problems down the line.
The finish came early in the fourth when Camacho was backed up on the ropes and ate a quick left hook/right hand combination. His legs betrayed him and he began to wilt as Okolie piled on him and forced him to the floor with a flurry. Camacho did beat the count but another monster right hand had him staggering backwards and only the ropes were able to keep him on his feet. The referee rightly stepped in and called a halt to proceedings.
Okolie (now 12-0 with 9 KO’s) is a polarising figure, for sure, and he certainly has a lot to learn but there is no denying that in a short space of time he has cleaned up domestically. His style may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the results speak for themselves and it looks like it is time for him to step up to Euro level and beyond. Okolie does need to use his jab more, his height and size make it an obvious weapon, but there is no denying that he carries power in both hands and whenever he lands his opposition do not want to take more shots from him. Eventually, given his huge frame, he will become a Heavyweight but before that happens it is more than likely he’ll fight for world honours at Cruiserweight; given that all four world titles are likely to be vacated by Usyk it is possible to see Okolie’s opportunity arriving sooner rather than later.
Lewis Ritson debuted at 140lbs with a very hard fought and somewhat contentious unanimous decision over Argentina’s German Benitez.
Ritson, coming up from Lightweight, was looking to put on an explosive performance in his new division but in reality it was fairly laboured and a damn sight harder worker than would have been anticipated before the opening bell. Coming off a loss to Francisco Patera for the EBU 135lbs crown it was believed that weight struggles had prompted Ritson’s decision to move up in weight and not his one dimensional style but after this viewing he and his team may want to rethink that notion.
The Newcastle man (now 18-1 with 11 KO’s) started in his usual fashion as he attempted to walk down his smaller opponent and pressurise him. Ritson was pumping out his ramrod jab and slamming away with hurtful looking hooks to the body but the Argentine was unperturbed and happy to gunsling with his trigger happy foe. Ritson had been so used to blowing away the competition in an early whirlwind but he wasn’t having the same success here, the same way he struggled with Patera last October.
Ritson was picking up the early rounds with his constant barrage, closing the distance and winging away to head and body, but Benitez was rarely looking concerned and although bloodied and bruised he was able to pick holes in the fairly abject defence of the former British champion. The visiting fighter was hitting the body in close, following the blueprint left behind by Patera, and was showing veteran like tendencies to stifle Ritson’s work whenever and wherever was possible. Ritson was caught often by a wide right hook from the Argentinian, something a true 140lber will take full advantage of, and the further the rounds wore the less and less likely the stoppage became. Ritson looked devoid of a plan B and that is going to hinder him at a higher level.
Benitez was tough and game, he made Ritson fight for every second of every round, and he certainly gained substantial success as the fight progressed; he exposed some flaws in a fighter that has been tipped for bigger and better things. Ritson has a terrific engine and he can fight, there’s no doubt about it, but when his opposition refuses to wilt under his constant attacks he looks cumbersome.
Opportunities will present themselves due to Ritson’s fan friendly style but one has to wonder whether he is going to hit the same wall he did at Lightweight beyond domestic level; if he cannot adapt then it is hard to see him being a threat on the world stage despite picking up the WBA Intercontinental strap with this victory. It should be noted that many at ringside believed Benitez may have done enough for victory, a draw could certainly be argued too, but as the away fighter he was on the wrong side of very poor scoring. I believed Ritson just edged the bout but the scorecards did not reflect the efforts of Benitez.
Scorecards read: 99-91, 98-92 x2