By Paul Mason
It was a great, if not short night of action at the O2 Arena, London on the weekend, as Eddie Hearn and Matchroom delivered a fan friendly show full of good matchups. Here I review the action and reactions from Saturdays bill.
Whyte Batters Browne
At the top of the bill at the O2 was a clash between Brixton’s Dillian Whyte and unbeaten Australian Heavyweight hope, Lucas Browne. Although the fight was a one sided beat down, with Browne knocked unconscious in the sixth round, I was more disappointed with the Aussie, than I was impressed with Whyte. As soon as Browne’s physical shape on the scales, and, in particular, fight night was revealed, it became apparent that the Browne game plan was to land the bingo punch to knock Whyte out. As the first bell rung, Browne’s body told me all I needed to know about the pattern of the fight. He plodded towards Whyte in straight lines with slim to no defence, and was cut early on in the contest over his left eye.
Whyte continuously connected, although some of his attacks were wild and mistimed, but as Browne’s eye got worse and worse, and his nose seemed to break, Whyte began to fire at will. It seemed only a matter of time before the end was nigh, and Whyte duly obliged with devastating effect in the sixth. A cuffing left rendered Browne unconscious, and the visitor was worryingly out cold for several minutes. Luckily he left the ring on his own steam and then was transported via stretcher to hospital.
The obvious clamber from Whyte himself and fans now is to go straight for WBC Champion Deontay Wilder, and to be installed as his mandatory next challenger. For me though, I still think Whyte needs to have a breakout win against real top level opposition. Yes, Browne was a former WBA Heavyweight Champion, but he was coming off drug issues and inactivity, and wouldn’t figure much in many writers top ten or even twenty Heavyweight rankings. I think that Whyte should be targeting a June fight against someone in the mould of a Carlos Takam or a Dominic Breazeale, or potentially the winner of the Alexander Povetkin v David Price contest taking place in Cardiff this weekend. I feel even if he is installed as mandatory, he doesn’t need to rush the opportunity. There is also fighters such as Luis Ortiz, but I don’t think Whyte would want to jeopardise his lofty ranking.
It will be interesting to see how the next few months play out, as I don’t envisage Wilder coming to London to accommodate Dillian anytime soon!
Ritson Ruins Cardle’s Lonsdale Dream
Tyne and Wear’s British Lightweight Champion, Lewis Ritson, continues to go from strength to strength. After ruining Robbie Barrett to acquire the Title in 2017, he has opened 2018 by making two defences that have lasted under three rounds. Joe Murray was put away inside a round only last month in Manchester, and on Saturday night, Ritson swatted away the challenge of Lytham’s Scotty Cardle, a former British Champion himself, and going for ownership of the belt outright if he beat Ritson in London.
Cardle opened the fight with a surprisingly gung-ho attitude, taking the fight immediately to Ritson and connecting with hard blows. But impressively Ritson kept his cool, rode out the first round storm, and let loose himself in the second, to which Cardle had no answer to. As soon as Ritson planted his feet and let his shots go, Cardle seemed troubled every time a punch connected. After scoring a knockdown, Ritson went for the kill, and both the referee and Joe Gallaghers towel intervened to stop the contest.
The question now is, how do you match Ritson? He is fast becoming a high ranking member of the who needs him club. His mandatory challenger for his belt is Paul Hyland Junior, and that fight could take place in June in Ritsons home town of Newcastle. I’d like to see Ritson make the third defence of the Title to hold it outright, and then quickly move into European and then fringe World class. I believe Ritson to be that good, and with good match making, he could be on a fast track to the very top. I for one am looking forward to following him with interest.
“The One” Fulfils His Potential To Catch Buglioni Cold
2010 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Callum Johnson, came into the professional ranks with a high recommendation from none other than “Prince” Naseem Hamed, with the belief he could go all the way to the top. After a stop start career, where personal tragedy struck alongside injury, Johnson finally fulfilled some of that potential by blasting away the British Light Heavyweight Champion, Frank Buglioni inside a round at the O2. This after an 18 month layoff.
Johnson attacked Buglioni with menace and precision, and his power both surprised and wobbled the Enfield man.After scoring a knockdown close to the ropes with a crunching left hook, Johnson buzzed Buglioni again upon the resumption of the contest with a shot that scrambled “the wise guy’s” senses and feet, and referee Victor Loughlin spotted this and called a perfect stoppage. It was disappointment for Buglioni in his quest to win the Lonsdale Belt outright, but for Johnson, the landscape has now really opened up for him. A fight with gym mate and personal friend, Hosea Burton, has been ruled out on the grounds of friendship and sharing the same trainer, so unless an opportunity on the European scene opens up, a fight with Anthony Yarde could be a mouth-watering prospect. Obviously rival channels and promoters could prove tricky stumbling blocks to overcome, but I’m sure a deal could be worked out.
As long as Johnson stays injury free, I think this could be a big two years for him if he open doors in the division.
Del Boy Attempts To Make A Deal
Dereck Chisora was only meant to be having a marking time fight on Saturday, but ended up making a big statement. He halted trial horse Zakkaria Azzouzi with a chilling right hand in the second round. The whispers were that Chisora could be facing Carlos Takam next in May, but David Haye has designs on him being Joe Joyce’s next opponent on the Bellew v Haye II bill. The sticking point, as it so often is, is money. Chisora, rightfully, as a former World Title challenger, and former British, Commonwealth and European Champion, has far more to lose than Joyce in taking the fight. Chisora cheekily suggested post fight, that if Joyce beats him he will fight him for £1, but if he beats Joyce, Haye will pay him his purse for the Bellew contest.
Obviously both seem unrealistic, and it looks as though the two parties are poles apart until a sensible agreement can be reached. If Joyce’s team want to step him up significantly, they will need to pay the going rate to do this. Something tells me that Commonwealth Champion, Lenroy Thomas could be waiting in the wings for significantly less money to face Joyce on the 5th of May.