Coming in at 29-0, Tommy Ward suffers the first blemish on his ledger against a plucky Thomas Essomba, while Ellie Scotney wins her pro debut in style
West Rainton super-bantam Thomas Patrick Ward is only 26 but an eight-year pro, former undefeated British champion and currently in the top 10 for both the IBF and WBO. He came into his fight with Cameroon-born southpaw Thomas Essomba, on the Lewis Ritson vs Miguel Vazquez Matchroom show in Peterborough, a healthy favourite and rightly so. A former Olympian, Essomba had generally fallen short at top British level, pushing but ultimately losing to the likes of Jay Harris, Lee McGregor and, just seven weeks previously, Sunny Edwards. Ward, 29-0 coming in, had not fought since last November but was aiming to do a similar job over 10 rounds. Instead, he sustained the first blemish on his record.
Ward started sharp and generally displayed excellent footwork. Compact Essomba knows how to take care of himself and countered with potent hooks, having Ward under sustained pressure in round four. It rapidly developed into an intense tussle. An accidental clash of heads opened up a horrible cut over Ward’s left eye in round seven and most sessions were close. Tommy, the bigger man, survived a doctor’s inspection during the interval, but Essomba sprung in with accurate head shots in the eighth as Ward gushed blood. Another consultation after the bell rang for the ninth compelled referee Bob Williams to call a halt and, with four rounds or more having been completed, it went to the scorecards for a technical decision.
The tallies were 88-85 Essomba, 88-84 Ward and 86-86, combining to make it a split technical draw. This included the shortlived final session.
Former GB amateur rep Ellie Scotney made her long-awaited pro debut and looked more accomplished then many women with far more professional experience. The Catford featherweight, trained by Adam Booth, was too much for Swindon’s Bec Connolly, rolling under her opponent’s basic shots to land heavier left hooks and rights to the body. Over six-twos, she dropped her rival in the third, and cut her eye. A class above, Scotney took the referee’s 60-53 tally and could only have improved on the showing by scoring a stoppage. She is one to watch.
In a six-rounder added at the shortest possibly notice, after Savannah Marshall vs Hannah Rankin fell through, Liverpool lightweight Meshech Speare returned from 17 months out but lost his unbeaten record to Birmingham’s Kane Baker, who had been beaten by Aqib Fiaz, over eight, less than two weeks ago. Baker set a typically fast pace, but was cut around the eye early on in a highly watchable affair. Speare was the slicker and a bigger puncher but proved vulnerable to being outhustled by Baker, whose jab was impressive and who never stopped trying. He won 59-56.