By Paul Mason (@KOBoxingSets)
This past Saturday in London, Frank Warren again put on a cracking card for BT Sport and BoxNation. The main event saw rising Floyd Mayweather protégé, Gervonta Davis defending his IBF Super Featherweight Title for the first time, and on foreign soil against Cromer’s Liam Walsh. These are a few things that we learned in the aftermath of the show.
Gervonta Davis Has Lift Off!
After his stunning stoppage win over Jose Pedraza to lift the IBF Super Featherweight title back in January, there was still a lot for the Baltimore native to prove. A lot of people pointed to Pedraza’s struggles to make weight, as well as him not looking himself during the fight. These thoughts were totally eradicated on Saturday night, as Davis dominated Liam Walsh, and eventually ended matters, with the punch that troubled Walsh the most through the fight, the left hook in the third round. The fight was mostly tentative, but you sensed as soon as Davis wanted to step up a gear, the fight would be over, and sure enough this happened. As Walsh bravely rose at the count of eight, another barrage followed and referee Michael Alexander had seen enough (more on that later). The fight confirmed Davis’ ascension into stardom, and now the options for him are mouth-watering. At Super Featherweight alone, there is currently WBO Champion, and pound for pound player, Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, KO6). This could be a fight for later down the line though, as the WBC and WBA champions look an attractive prospect for Davis to unify, and this will then allow “Tank” to bring more to the table, as well as more experience, if him and Lomachenko meet. The WBC champion is Miguel Berchelt (31-1, KO28), who knocked out the unbeaten Francisco Vargas in eleven rounds in January to claim the belt. WBA Champion is currently Panama’s Jezreel Corrales (21-1, KO8). He had to travel to Japan to win the belt, knocking out Takashi Uchiyama in two rounds in April 2016, before having to rematch him, and triumphing by split decision eight months later, again in Tokyo. Both would be attractive options for Davis and relatively easy matches to make.
Another option could be a move to Lightweight. This is a lucrative division at the minute, and is currently housing WBC Champion, Mikey Garcia, as well as WBA King Jorge Linares. If Davis wanted to dip his toes in at the weight, a match that could be made potentially is with the WBO Champion, which is the Frank Warren promoted Terry Flanagan. Seen as Mayweather and Warren linked up at the weekend, this could be a simple match to make. However, this would depend on how easily Davis makes Super Featherweight, and weather there is a need to move up in weight in the short term. One thing is for sure though is Davis will now be a man in demand.
The Stoppage Was The Correct Call
There was a bit of a dispute between viewers and the BT Sport commentary team following the stoppage, as John Rawling, and especially Richie Woodhall protested that the fight should not have been stopped. The way that I saw it was that once Walsh was put down, he rose following the referees count still on unsteady legs. A follow up assault from Davis caused referee Michael Alexander to step in to call a halt to the action. In my opinion, World Title fight or not, another two or three punches could seriously have hurt Walsh, and Alexander was well within his right to stop the contest. This was echoed by pundit Steve Bunce, who felt the stoppage was bang on. Walsh will live to fight another day as a result, and the high majority of comments I have read on Twitter during and since have only supported the decision.
Liam Walsh Will Come Again
There was no disgrace in Liam Walsh coming up short in challenging for his first World Title. He approached the whole event with dignity and class in his comments and actions in the build up to the fight, and only enhanced his popularity with new fans to the sport, as well as his loyal “Farmy Army” who support the Walsh family in their droves. Walsh will now regroup, and I’m sure a new path will be plotted for him by his handlers. I can see Walsh moving to Lightweight. He has dabbled at Lightweight before, picking up minor WBO belts at the weight earlier in his career. He was due to challenge the then WBO Lightweight Champion, Ricky Burns in 2012, before Walsh was involved in a car accident, cancelling the bout due to the injuries he sustained. The reason I can see Walsh moving up is that he won’t really relish having to rebuild, potentially at domestic or European level at Super Feather. Given that both Walsh and Terry Flanagan share the same promoter, a match between the two for the Manchester man’s WBO Title could be a natural. Also a possibility could be a fight for the vacant belt if “Turbo” decides to move up to Super Lightweight as he has previously indicated. At age 31, there are still multiple opportunities for Walsh, and he will come again.
Yarde and Dubois Are Frank Warren’s Future
Frank Warren’s premier prospects again came through with flying colours on the bill. Anthony Yarde picked up his first professional title, relieving the tough but outgunned serving soldier, Chris Hobbs of his Southern Area Light Heavyweight Title in four rounds. Yarde looked more patient than normal, but still knocked down Hobbs six times before Hobbs’ corner finally threw the towel in for their man, much to Hobbs’ anger. Yarde had way too much for Hobbs, and hurt him every time he went to the body. Next up for Yarde is a ranking builder for the WBO European Title, against Hungary’s Richard Baranyi on the Billy Joe Saunders v Antandil Khurtsidze card on July 8th. Warren’s Heavyweight hope, Daniel Dubois blew away the hapless David Howe with the first meaningful punch of the first round in under 40 seconds to continue his unbeaten start. The 19 year old looks impressive so far, but I’d like to see him go a few more rounds. Hopefully he can be carefully guided, as he has plenty of time on his side. He will also be out next on July 8th.
Joe Pigford Is Fun While His Contests Last!!
Joe Pigford is both good and bad to watch in equal measure. He is never in a dull fight, however he is at times massively exposed, and Aarron Morgan very nearly found the way to remove Pigford on Saturday night. Pigford took several clean shots, but somehow found a way to win with his explosive equaliser, this time in the shape of a two fisted assault on the ropes, knocking Morgan out cold in the fifth round. I can’t help thinking that if the Southampton man takes a step up in class, even English Title level, he could get badly hurt. There’s no doubt he has potential, but he just needs to tighten up his defence in order for his career to truly progress.
There was a victory in the Walsh camp on Saturday as Ryan Walsh won the Lord Lonsdale Belt outright with an eleventh round stoppage win over Marco McCullough. Walsh looked impressive at times, and I feel he could have put away the Northern Irishman sooner had he stepped on the gas. He immediately gave the belt to brother Michael to keep in what was a brilliant gesture. Ryan now moves on to what he hopes will be a meeting with Josh Warrington, which I assume can easily be made unless Josh finds a World Champion to oppose him for his next fight. This would be a good domestic fight, however, I would favour Warrington at this point.
The Copper Box Arena Looks A Good Boxing Venue.
The atmosphere and venue looked good, as another relative new comer is likely to become a regular venue on the Boxing scene in the Copper Box Arena in London. Frank Warren has an agreement with the venue, so expect more shows here in the future, starting with the Billy Joe Saunders WBO Middleweight Title defence in July. The arena looks spacious, and modern, and also looked close to sell out on Saturday.
I will be back later this week previewing the massive bill at Bramhall Lane, the home of Sheffield United FC, as Kell Brook puts his IBF Welterweight Title on the line in a genuine 50/50 fight against the talented Errol Spence.
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