A rematch of the Steven Ward vs Liam Conroy Fight of the Year contender will not happen in the MTK Golden Contract tournament after ‘The Quiet Man’ is shockingly beaten by Ricards Bolotniks
Having already seen Hosea Burton and Serge Michel advance relatively comfortably from the first two quarter-finals of MTK’s Golden Contract tournament, both in distance fights, the crowd at the Brentwood Centre settled in for what we all hoped would be fireworks from the remaining brace of contests.
Liam Conroy, former English champion from Barrow-in-Furness, went up against once-beaten Andre Sterling of New Cross in what appeared a well-matched bout between a busy boxer and awkward aggressor. The shorter Sterling immediately looked to engage on the inside, while Conroy relied on long, straight punches.
Sterling closed the gap quickly, belabouring Conroy to the body against the topes, with Liam the boss at range. Conroy’s jab, to both head and body, was excellent. He tried to get combinations flowing but Sterling ducked low, wrestled and generally spoiled. It was scrappy but still watchable as both looked capable of effective work in a give-and-take affair, Conroy appearing particularly dangerous with his chopping right as Sterling came in.
Conroy dropped Sterling with a quality short left hook at close quarters early in the seventh session. The Londoner recovered quickly and fought back valiantly, taking several big gulps of air in the process. He made a fight of it over the next couple before being briefly hurt again in the last. Conroy deservedly triumphed on a unanimous decision, with scores of 96-94 (too close), 97-92 and 98-91.
Back in June, Conroy went to war with Steven Ward in a Fight of the Year contender won by the Newtownabbey man due to a one-point margin on all three scorecards when a cut from an accidental head-clash ruled him out after eight rounds. The pair are exceptionally friendly now and the mouthwatering possibility of a rematch is on the backburner for now after Latvian Ricards Bolotniks hammered Ward to a shock opening-round defeat here.
Upright Ward is officially only an inch taller than Bolotniks, who he picked in the draw, but there looked to be more of a disparity. It did not help him when Bolotniks landed a counter left hook to fell him midway through the first. A follow-up barrage drove him to the ropes where a right uppercut floored him once again. Ward looked shaky and another salvo saw referee Phil Edwards rightly call the fight off. Bolotniks achieved the only inside-schedule victory of the four quarter-finals (earning him a £5,000 bonus) and will be a dangerman at the next stage.