Samir Ziani vs Alex Dilmaghani produce a superb European title fight, while Isaac Chamberlain and Stevie McKenna shine on the undercard
It is perhaps bittersweet but Crayford super-featherweight Alex Dilmaghani has now been in consecutive UK Fight of the Year contenders. The bitter part of the equation is that the well-travelled Londoner failed to win either superb contest. Last year he drew with rugged Fransisco Fonseca in an absolute belter, while on Saturday night, at an almost empty Production Park Studios in South Kirkby, his challenge to European champion Samir Ziani ended in brave defeat after a bout that may have equalled the Fonseca fight for action but proved more dramatic. Dilmaghani may be without a victory in his last two but - with both shows on terrestrial Channel 5 - his reputation as a reliable TV fighter is unimpeachable.
The all-southpaw duel became a war of attrition almost from the opening bell. Early on, however, it was Dilmaghani who was better able to establish some welcome distance to fire off fast combinations and vicious right hooks to the body. He appeared ahead by halfway in a scheduled 12-rounder but every round was close in a fight where no quarter was asked or given.
The tide began to turn in the latter part of the contest, testament to the French title-holder’s greater experience at this level and his superb conditioning. In a battle the majority of which was waged at close quarters, Ziani’s uppercuts and straight lefts were particularly effective and his relentless approach negated Dilmaghani’s reach advantage. The Brit was cut in the sixth, Ziani the ninth and while it still appeared to be anyone’s fight entering the 12th and final session, the momentum was solidly with the champion as Dilmaghani’s gas tanked teetered close to empty.
Beaten as much by exhaustion as his indefatigable opponent. Dilmaghani was dropped three times in the round (one was not called) and belatedly ruled out with just nine seconds left in the fight. Entering the 12th he has been ahead on two of the three scorecards.
On the Hennessy Sports event, broadcast also by Seconds Out (main two fights outside the UK/Ireland and the undercard globally), there appeared to be a race between talented London cruiser Isaac Chamberlain and touted Irishman Stevie McKenna, making his British debut, to see who could finish their overmatched opposition quicker.
Chamberlain got the bragging rights, despatching Matt Sen in 50 seconds, but McKenna wasn’t far behind, taking 13 seconds longer to get rid of Gary McGuire. He looks a monster.
Also on the undercard, Michael Hennessy Jr lost his unbeaten record to Jamie Stewart on points, while Idris Virgo, who stated his case as Britain’s most hated boxer when drenching Scott Williams at a pre-fight head-to-head, was less aggressive inside the ring, albeit winning clearly for the judges.