By Paul Mason (@KOBoxingSets)
I was ringside for The World Boxing Wall on Saturday night at the 02 Arena, London, which saw many of Matchroom Boxing’s brightest prospects take to the ring in further learning curve fights. 2016 Olympic Bronze Medallist, Joshua Buatsi made his professional debut, while Lawrence Okolie, Ted Cheeseman, Reece Bellotti, Conor Benn and Isaac Chamberlain all featured. The bill was topped by Enfield ticket seller, Frank Buglioni who defended his British Light Heavyweight Title for the very first time against the unknown quantity, especially over the Championship distance, in Tipton’s Ricky Summers. Here is some of the talking points from the card.
Tougher Than Expected For The Wise Guy
The aforementioned Buglioni was involved in a tougher than expected tussle with the tough Ricky Summers. Buglioni came through unanimously on the cards. Summers passed several gut checks and was more than competitive during the fight. He will be a whole lot better for the Championship experience, and will come back stronger at domestic level I’m sure. Buglioni started well and dominated the early rounds, but Summers came into the contest from halfway and made the twelve rounds as uncomfortable as possible for Buglioni. It’s clear that Frank requires a couple of defences of the title, or maybe a challenge for European honours before making an assault on the World scene again. At 26, he is still learning his craft and doesn’t need to be rushed. For Summers, a fight with any of his domestic rivals would be good to see, and he himself is keen to kick on from the small hall shows against European imports and journeymen.
Birth of Buatsi
Much hype was made when Matchroom beat a host of suitors to the signature of the Rio Olympics Bronze Medallist, Joshua Buatsi. He made his debut in the chief support slot, and beat what was in front of him in Spain’s Carlos Mena. Mena was too brave for his own good as Buatsi crumpled him with body shots, knocking him down three times en route to a second round stoppage victory. The future is bright for the Croydon fighter, and he is following the well trodden Matchroom path of a fair few blow out wins before a step up. There’s no denying that Buatsi has the star quality to go all the way, and I look forward to seeing him progress in the paid ranks.
Impressions Made On The Undercard
For me, the standout performances of the night came from Reece Bellotti and Ted Cheeseman, who were mixing in a slightly higher than normal class, and they came through with flying colours. Bellotti stopped four time Southern Area Champion Jamie Speight in eight one sided rounds, claiming the ranking building WBC International Silver Featherweight Title in the process. Bellotti picked his punches well and slotted in some wicked body shots during the contest, and after relentless pressure, he forced the intervention from the referee, and with it the stoppage win. Bellotti has now set his sights on the British Title, currently held by Cromer’s Ryan Walsh. However, a matchup between the two is unlikely, as Walsh has just won the Lonsdale Belt outright following his stoppage win over Marco McCullough last month, so the likelihood is that he will vacate. This leaves Bellotti free to challenge for the vacant belt, potentially against Isaac Lowe.
Bermondsey’s Ted Cheeseman was making the step up to Championship class, when he tackled Manchester’s Matthew Ryan for the English Super Lightweight Title. “The Big Cheese” attacked Ryan at will from the off, and discouraged Ryan early on by walking him down and landing hard shots with both hands. The writing was on the wall in the third, and Cheeseman upped the tempo, dropping Ryan with a barrage of shots to head and body. Ryan survived the count, but a follow up right hook left him down and out. Cheeseman moves to 9-0, and like Bellotti, the path to British Title glory seems wide open for him. Liam Williams has moved up to World level, so the domestic Title scene is someone like Cheeseman’s for the taking, and I’m sure that Eddie Hearn will be manoeuvring him into position shortly.
Undercard Prospects In Action
Another 2016 Olympian wasted little time in dispatching his opponent. Lawrence Okolie wreaked havoc on Russ Henshaw’s body, dropping him twice in the opening round with some savage shots. The referee stepped in when Okolie followed up after the second knockdown and there was only ever going to be one result. “The Sauce” now moves to 4-0 and I feel he will be stepped up pretty quickly as there are few options in the Cruiserweight Division domestically.
A match that has been touted further down the line is Okolie v Isaac Chamberlain. The pair were involved in an ugly war of words during the public workouts in midweek. Brixton resident Chamberlain beat five fight novice Ryan Crawford on the undercard. This was a tougher than anticipated encounter for Chamberlain, and he was caught flush numerous times during the contest, which ended in round two, with a stoppage win for Chamberlain. A match between Okolie and Chamberlain would sell, and Okolie impressed slightly more than Isaac on the night.
Conor Benn continued his education by stopping Mike Cole, who came in at less than a days notice, in three rounds. Benn looked much more composed than usual, and is learning on the job as a professional. Expect more learning fights before Hearn takes the stabilisers off.
The well supported Craig “Spider” Richards, from Crystal Palace outpointed the teak tough Portuguese Rui Manuel Pavanito over six rounds. Richards, fresh off his success on the JDNXTGEN show at the York Hall in March, where he outpointed Alan Higgins for the Southern Area Super Middleweight Title, started off the contest working well off a crisp jab. He connected with a good variety of shots during the early rounds. He seemed to switch off however slightly in the last two rounds, and was caught more often than he would have wanted as Pavanito came on strong, but Richards did more than enough to secure a 58-56 verdict on the referees scorecard to move to 9-0. I feel the better the opposition, the better Richards we will see, and he has bags of potential. The domestic scene at Super Middleweight is currently congested, with Rocky Fielding without a dance partner for the vacant British Title following Jamie Cox’s inclusion in the World Boxing Super Series. The queue seems a mile long with the like of John Ryder, Luke Blackledge, Mark Heffron and Adam Etches angling for a shot. I’d like to see Richards learn his craft for a few more fights before taking on the likes of the four men mentioned above. There is plenty of time yet for the 27 year old.
The previously mentioned Cox got a run out late on the card with a one round blowout win over Ivan Jukic to move to 23-0, and there were wins for Jake Ball, who stopped Jamie Ambler in four, Danny Dignum, who outpointed Yailton Neves, and in the show opener Aberdare based South African Morgan Jones stopped Jade Karam in three rounds.
All in all, although the results went as expected, the performances of some of the talent was impressive, and bodes well for the future. The new season will come around quickly, and expect to see the names mentioned in this report to feature heavily on Matchroom cards when it begins all over again.
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