Jack Cullen vs John Harding Jr: Champ retains English title against Dillian Whyte protege

Jack Cullen vs John Harding Jr proves relatively one-sided as the rangy champion dictates throughout

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Jack Cullen vs John Harding Jr
Jack Cullen vs John Harding Jr

The clash between English middleweight champion Jack Cullen and challenger John Harding Jr always promised to be one of the more watchable contests on the Fowler vs Rose undercard at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool.

 

“Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver” had won his previous five and, at 6ft 3ins, held a three-inch height advantage over the Brixton man, who started boxing young but only returned to it much later in life after falling into trouble and enduring some spells in prison. Dillian Whyte, visible at ringside, took Harding under his wing and the pair share a trainer in Mark Tibbs. Still, this looked a tall order – pun intended – for Harding Jr who had only had eight pro fights to Cullen’s 17, fought less impressive opposition and could probably make super-welter.

 

Cullen began to stamp home his edge in reach from round two (of a scheduled 10), scoring with a snappy jab and long left hooks, while moving well and switching stance. Harding threw plenty but his shots did not have the same potency. He appeared in trouble at the end of the session.

 

Harding Jr tried to force his way back but Cullen’s workrate was incessant, jabs up and down and those long left hooks catching the eye. Harding Jr landed sporadic uppercuts and hooks to the body, but Cullen, who reminded me of Prince Arron, generally wore the faint smile of a man who believed he was always a step ahead. Harding appeared to derive pride from standing up to the barrage, but a long left early in the fifth forced him to touch down.

 

Harding, unlike Sean McGoldrick earlier in the evening, recognised the fight slipping away from him and responded with urgency, swinging for the fences, and enjoying intermittent success, in the seventh session. But Cullen reasserted himself in the next, hurting an exhausted Harding Jr with left hands before referee Bob Williams sensibly stepped in.

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