By Paul Mason (@PaulMason1986)
This weekend was as busy as ever with cards both sides of the Atlantic. Here is my take on the weekends action and talking points.
Groves Advances To Meet Eubank Junior
Saturday at the Wembley Arena saw Hammersmith’s George Groves advance to the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series, and defend his WBA (Super) Super Middleweight crown by beating Jamie Cox in a bar room brawl of a fight. Cox went for broke from pretty much the opening bell and heavy fire was exchanged between the two throughout the contest. Groves ended matters in the fourth with a wicked body shot that Cox couldn’t recover from. This now means a semi-final clash with IBO Champion, Chris Eubank Junior. The contest is scheduled for early 2018, and should be a cracker. I still lean towards Groves only due to his big fight experience and size more than anything. The build-up should be epic, and the words have already started to be exchanged.
Leave The Fighting To The Professionals
Unfortunately, in what is becoming a recurring theme, violence broke out during the Wembley show. Pockets of fans wailed into each other and security was powerless and non-existent to stop it, and ugly videos surfaced on Social Media. Worse still, at a show in Walsall Town Hall on Saturday night, a 19 year old man was fatally stabbed during fights that started inside the venue, and then quickly spilled outside. Quite simply, there is no place for this in the sport. A man has since been arrested in the Derby area in connection with this.
I have witnessed fights between spectators at nearly every show I have attended this year. It’s ugly to watch, and more importantly is embarrassing for the sport. Drink and drugs play a massive part in things spiralling out of control.
Sam McNess, a West Ham United fan, sold a lot of tickets for his fight with Asinia Byfield in May this year at the Copperbox. He lost the fight, stopped by Byfield, and an almighty riot ensued. The same happened during the Liam Smith v Liam Williams fight in Manchester in April, with rival fans clashing. It has to stop. Security has to be tighter and more robust, and a bigger police presence has to be felt to deter people from misbehaving. Spencer Fearon suggested a complete alcohol ban, which is understandable as these people are dragging the sport through the gutter. It’s unfair on the true fans of the sport who pay for tickets to watch the action inside the ring.
Cameron Beats Sheedy In A Classic
It’s always good to see new TV channels getting involved in Boxing. On Friday night Freesports UK presented the Commonwealth Middleweight Title fight between the Champion Sam Sheedy, and Liam Cameron, in a Sheffield derby at the Ponds Forge Arena. It was a brilliant fight and Cameron prevailed in a contest that saw the largely unseen 10-5 round! Cameron put Sheedy down three times in the fourth with body shots, and was also deducted a point by referee Phil Edwards for illegal use of the head. Sheedy was badly hurt, but rallied to make for a cracking fight, where he gave the tirming Cameron all he could handle. Cameron regained control though, dropping Sheedy twice more, before the referee had seen enough during round eight.
The production for a first time effort was really good, and it was good to see Glenn McCrory back in the commentary box. He, along with Ian Darke have been sorely missed as the voices of boxing on Sky Sports, so it’s nice to see one half of the duo again on our screens. This is the first of many shows that Freesports have promised, and if it’s half as good as Friday’s offering, then no one will be complaining!
Mares & Santa Cruz Come Through Easily
Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz came through their final hurdles before facing each other in their next fight. Mares used Andres Guttierez as a punchbag for ten and a half rounds before referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight due to a bad cut sustained by Guttierez as early as the second round. Mares won 99-91 (twice) and 100-90 on the judges’ cards, winning by technical decision.
Santa Cruz started in the same vain against Chris Avalos, dominating the early rounds. But Avalos started to enjoy small pockets of success, and it was a surprise when referee Thomas Taylor halted the action midway through the eighth round, with Avalos seemingly fine to continue. Nevertheless it was a largely routine victory for Santa Cruz, and he goes onto a much anticipated rematch with Mares, who came through via majority decision in August 2015. The rematch is expected to take place in early 2018.
Charlo Is The New Super Welterweight Star
There was also a Super Welterweight triple header at the Barclays Centre, New York on Saturday night, and Jermell Charlo, the WBC Champion made the biggest impact. In a relatively quiet opening round against Erickson Lubin, the fight exploded into life when Lubin walked into a crushing Charlo right hand, which rendered him unable to continue. It was a devastating statement win for Charlo, and now puts him well in the mix for unification fights at the weight.
It was a bit more of a struggle for the IBF Champion, Jarrett Hurd. Austin Trout gave Hurd a hard night, until he tired down the stretch, After a slow start, Hurd raised the tempo in the second half of the fight, and Trout barely withstood a punishing assault in the tenth round, the ringside doctor stepped in to stop the fight at the end of the session. Hurd was two points up on two cards and four points up on the third card at the time of the stoppage. He will now hope to entice Charlo into a match in 2018.
The main event of the evening was largely a stinker. Cuban Erislandy Lara needs to make people sit up and take notice of him. Instead he is too good for his own good, happy to coast through fights without being fan friendly. This was again showcased in his WBA/IBO World Title defence against Terrell Gausha. Gausha was put down in the fourth, but survived until the end as Lara took a unanimous decision on the cards. What was audible during the fight, was the fans chanting “this is boring” and there being little interest in the “action” inside the ring. Lara now will need to bang the drum, much like his compatriot Guillermo Rigondeaux has in enticing Vasyl Lomachenko into the ring. A fight with the other two aforementioned Charlo and Hurd may just appease fight fans for now.
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