By Paul Mason
It was another busy weekend for the sport on both sides of the Atlantic. Here, I dissect the weekend’s action, and there was a lot of it, and I begin on a poignant note. Rest in peace Scott Westgarth.
Tragedy Strikes In Doncaster
I have to begin with sad news for the sport, but a piece that I feel is most important from the weekend. Newcastle’s Scott Westgarth should have been celebrating the best win of his career, following Saturday nights gruelling points win over the previously unbeaten Dec Spelman from Scunthorpe. In a brutal fight, both men were on the floor before Westgarth took the decision on the cards. Westgarth conducted post-fight interviews, before stumbling backstage, requiring urgent medical attention.
This led to the main event, a Commonwealth Welterweight Title eliminator between Curtis Woodhouse and John Wayne Hibbert, to be cancelled due to no paramedics being left on site at the Doncaster Dome. This pales into insignificance though after tragedy struck, and the safety of the boxers is always paramount. Sadly, Scott passed away in the early hours of Monday morning, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
Before the sport’s safety comes under scrutiny again, we must spare a thought not only for Westgarth’s family, but for Dec Spelman, who will now face an unbelievably dark time in his life. Spelman tweeted on Monday: “Absolutely heartbroken and lost for words. I’ll continue to pray for Scott’s family and the people close to him rest easy my friend xxx.” Only last week, Welshman Dale Evans, who was involved in a contest where his opponent, Mike Towell died in the aftermath, retired, as he no longer had a desire to continue in the sport.
Mundo Advances To The World Boxing Super Series Final
Liverpool’s Callum Smith safely negotiated a potential banana skin in Nuremburg, as he defeated the plucky and game Dutchman, Nieky Holzken to advance to the World Boxing Super Series Final. Smith was given a tougher than expected time, and took his fair share of shots from Holzken, but came through to win widely on all cards.
It was a tricky week for “Mundo” as he saw his original opponent, Juergen Braehmer, pull out with only five days until fight night. So Smith did what he had to do, and largely stayed out of trouble in order to book his place in the showpiece final. He now meets George Groves, in what is slated to be a June 2 clash, but this could be pushed back due to an injury to Smith’s hands and the shoulder dislocation Groves suffered in the last round of his semi-final win over Chris Eubank Junior in Manchester last Saturday.
It’s an intriguing final. Groves is in the form of his career, and the WBA (Super) World Champion, and Smith has been impressive thus far in his pro career, but yet to be fully tested to the limit. I fully expect Groves to provide a stern test of Smith’s credentials, and the Hammersmith man will start as favourite I’m sure.
Barrett Loses Unbeaten Record In A Thriller At The York Hall
Highly regarded Manchester prospect, Zelfa Barrett, lost his unbeaten record at the York Hall on Saturday night, as Dundee’s unheralded Ronnie “The Shark” Clark took a deserved majority points win to win the IBF European Super Featherweight Title. “The Brown Flash” was floored in the sixth round by a Clark uppercut to set up the upset. The better work for the majority of the contest come from Barrett, however, far more clean work came from Clark throughout and that edged him the fightin an enthralling contest.
For Barrett, it’s back to the drawing board, but I feel a first defeat will do him the world of good. It should be relatively straight forward to get the rematch arranged, and that should be the immediate thought. I would expect Barrett to make the necessary adjustments to avenge the defeat, and then move on accordingly. Thoughts of Leicester’s Lyon Woodstock and Martin J Ward, who holds British, Commonwealth and European Titles at the weight, must surely now be on ice for the moment.
On the same card, Anthony Yarde stopped Tony Averlant in seven via corner retirement to retain his minor WBO belts. Daniel Dubois continued his education, stopping DL Jones in three to defend his Southern Area Heavyweight Title. Fellow Heavyweight, Nathan Gorman stopped the limited Morgan Dessaux in two rounds.
Super Fly’s Shine
We have been spoiled in this country recently for not having to miss World Title fights on both sides of the pond. So it was a mild surprise that no UK broadcaster could be found for HBO’s “Super Fly 2” show at The Forum in Inglewood, California this weekend. UK fans will have missed a thriller of a main event, and a decent show, as Srisaket Sor Rungvisai followed up back to back wins over pound for pound contender Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez by defending his WBC Super Flyweight Title by edging out Juan Francisco Estrada via majority decision in a slugfest. It was a tight fight, and judge Dave Moretti couldn’t split them. Cathy Leonard scored it by two points in favour of Sor Rungvisai, with the third judge returning a too harsh six point win for the Thai.
A rematch is a must, but this might have to wait as McWilliams Arroyo upset Carlos Cuadras to win the WBC Silver Title via majority decision over ten rounds. One judge scored a draw, overruled by the other two judges that scored by four and six points for Arroyo respectively. This will surely put Arroyo in the box seat to challenge Sor Rungvisai next, however the WBC may order the Estrada rematch first.
There were also two Flyweight World Title fights on the bill, as Donnie Nietes stopped the hopelessly overmatched Juan Carlos Reveco in seven rounds to defend his IBF Title. Artem Dalakian defeated Brian Viloria via unanimous decision to pick up the vacant WBA Title.
Ritson Wrecks Murray In Manchester
The latest JD NXTGEN instalment hit the Victoria Warehouse, Manchester on Sunday. The main event saw the fast rising Newcastle man, and British Lightweight Champion, Lewis “Sandman” Ritson, meet a man surely in the domestic last chance saloon in Joe Murray.
Murray came to the ring extremely fired up for his challenge, and was caught with a stunning body shot in the very first round that he simply couldn’t recover from. Down three times, referee Howard Foster mercifully called the action off after under two minutes of action. Ritson is a man on the rise and followed up his impressive coronation win over Robbie Barrett by wrecking Murray. Ritson wants the winner of the Commonwealth Title fight between Sean “Masher” Dodd and Tommy Coyle that takes place on April 21 in Liverpool. However, he could be facing Lytham’s Scotty Cardle next, and it’s a fight I have full confidence that Ritson will win.
Jordan Gill defeated Jason Cunningham in a British Super Featherweight Title eliminator on points, while there were also wins for the debutant forme Team GB member Qais Ashfaq (W Pts 4) over Brett Fidoe, Natasha Jonas (W Pts 6) over Karina Kopinska, and Hosea Burton (W Pts 8) over Filip Perkovic.