By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Former British, European and IBO World Champ champ Colin Lynes added the second Lonsdale belt to his collection, after comprehensively beating defending champ Lee Purdy in a storming war at York Hall, last night.
The scintillating British title battle was a fitting finale to an evening of top class boxing from some of the best young prospects from the UK, headed by the likes of the sensational pairing Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng and John Ryder, and beyond.
Prior to the start of the Purdy-Lynes British title fight a standing ten bell was sounded in honour of legendary Heavyweight Champion of the World Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who had passed away on Tuesday.
With a chorus of Lyno, Lyno, Lyno, echoing around the hallowed York Hall the opening bell rung. In an instant defending champ Purdy and challenger Lynes moved in unison to meet centre ring, no hanging around or feeling out with this pair. Lynes throws the first shots, a stinging stiff jab, Purdy goes to counter but Lynes moves out of range before returning another powerful jab.
Throughout the first three rounds Lynes totally dominates, having totally neatralised Purdy’s game plan with his world class ring craft, the aforementioned superb jabbing and lightning quick combinations. That’s not to say that Purdy never landed a shot, he did but Lynes would respond each time with a flurry of shots to outscore Purdy three or four to one and as such I scored each of these rounds to Lynes.
The fourth round was a much closer affair, as in the early rounds Lynes calmly stayed on the back foot to pick of the forward coming Champ. However Purdy started to get a little more success on each foray, as such I scored this round a draw.
The fifth started with Purdy getting some good success, after about thirty seconds or so he landed a cracking right, Lynes just shock it off and returned a big left-right of his own. Normal service then resumed with Lynes controlling the proceedings right up to the final few seconds when Purdy again managed to get through Lynes’ defense to land another solid right. Lynes had landed not just the biggest numbers but also the most meaningful shots throughout to win the round in my book.
Purdy steps up the pressure in the sixth, but no matter how hard he pushes couldn’t seem to find a way past the excellent Lynes defense or jab. As every round before it was non-stop action and as before the vast majority of the point scoring work was coming from Lynes, who as we go into the seventh I have ahead by five clear rounds.
Now as I said each previous round was action packed, however in the seventh somehow these Warriors managed to pack even more in. This round has to have been one of the best rounds of the year so far.
Purdy was clearly aware his hopes of retaining the coveted belt were fading, as such Purdy somehow managed to step it up another level again and really went for it. However Lynes seemed fully prepared for this change in tactics and had also shifted up a gear.
The assembled crowd, as well as those watching live on Skysports, were treated to three minutes of pure pugilistic heaven. Both protagonists reached deep into their well stocked arsenal of punches as the toe to toe battle raged on. Once again Lynes out boxed Purdy, no matter what ‘Lights Out’ tried Lynes did it better, Purdy would land a big right, Lynes would return with an even heavier right, followed by a left or a hook to the body, so much so again I scored it in the Hornchurch’s man favour.
Somehow these two warriors kept up the same pace for the eight round, Purdy initially had some success and got through with a couple of solid rights, however Lynes was in the zone and just plain out boxed Purdy. Late on in the round a cut appeared over Purdy’s right eye, whilst Lynes had landed a fair few solid punches in the round in all honesty I feel it was just the high level of solid jabs Purdy had absorbed throughout the bout that had caused the cut. After three minutes of explosive action Lynes again took the round in my book.
Now bear in mind that I said round seven was probably one of the best rounds of the year, and round eight was not far off, well they have just been surpassed as the ninth was nothing short of sensational. It was a bloody slug fest of almighty proportions. For virtually the whole round the pair went at it hammer and tongs. Purdy was beginning to get desperate, throwing wild shots that Lynes avoided with ease, to make matters worse the cut over his eye was gushing blood.
As we go into the tenth I have Lynes a clear eight and half rounds up, plus Purdy is badly cut. Purdy needs a knockout, a couple of knockdowns will not suffice now.
The tenth starts at the same pace as the ninth, although this time Lynes was on the front foot chasing down the wounded Purdy, again it was a sensational round Lynes was boxing sensationally, Purdy gets more ragged as the round goes on, then with about fifty seconds to go Purdy is sent crashing to the canvas – I have to say that I didn’t actually see what punch did the deed as it came during a wicked high paced exchange between the two.
When the bell sounded to end the round Purdy’s supporters started leaving in droves, now whilst I am used to seeing this at football matches I’ve never ever seen this at a boxing match.
As we start the first of the Championship rounds Lynes’ supporters, who had been vocal throughout, raised the decibel levels to a whole new level, literally all you could hear was a chorus of Lyno, Lyno, Lyno, as the fighters engaged.
A virtual replay of the ninth round ensued, sensational toe to toe slugging sessions interspersed with back and forth action, in the final seconds Lynes makes yet another massive attack and backs Purdy up with another double handed flurry of heavy shots. As before Lynes again dominates the majority of the time to secure yet another round.
Purdy is clearly aware he needs a knockout to stand any chance of retaining his crown and comes out strong in the final round, to no avail though as Lynes was in sensational form and countered everything Purdy threw at him. With just over a minute of the bout remaining Lynes instigates yet another toe to toe exchange much to the horror of his coaches Jimmy and Mark Tibbs, Mark starts screaming from ringside at Lynes don’t take any risks and to get back to the jab and keep it long, but the warrior inside Lynes was in control and the toe to toe slug fest more or less continued to the final bell.
Whilst there was no doubt in my mind, or anyone else’s at York Hall come to that, that Lynes was the new British Welterweight Champion it wasn’t until the judges scorecards were read out that the celebrations could start in earnest.
The look on MC’s John McDonald face when he looked at the scores indicated that they may not be a clear cut as the fight was, then when he decided to check with Southern Area Chairman Mick Collier I feared that this could be yet another contentious result. Sure enough there was something well wrong with one of the judges scores, whilst two of the judges scored the bout in Lynes’ favour – Richard James Davies who scored it 119-110 and Mark Green who scored it 117-112 the third judge Ian John-Lewis incredibly scored this heavily one sided bout a 114-114 draw!
The reason I had made the comment ‘yet another contentious result’ is that the result for the preceding bout – between Chris Evangelou and Joel Ryan – was more than a little dubious.
Evangelou started strong but Ryan soon got to grips with the normally slippery customer and started to control the bout from around the mid point of the first round. Evangelou, who is used to having it all his ways, was denied any room to work, Ryan kept ‘Flash’ on the back foot and picked him off with double handed flurries of shots.
I scored the first round a draw, even though Ryan had done the majority of the work, as well as thrown more shots, the couple of shots Evangelou had landed were exceptional.
In my book Ryan easily earned the second and third rounds, The 21 year old from Walsall outworked ‘The Flash’ throughout, he not only worked harder but also threw, and landed, far more shots than the designated ‘home’ fighter.
The final round was all Ryan, he plain out boxed Evangelou – who barely threw a meaningful punch all round. Midway through the round Evangelou’s normally highly vocal fans, who had been silenced by Ryan’s dominating performance as early as the second minute of the first round, came to life screaming at their man to do something, Evangelou responded but Ryan shrugged it off and returned with a big flurry of his own to silence the crowd once more.
Image my surprise, as well as that of the majority of the crowd, when the result was announced as 39-37 in favour of Evangelou.
Prior to the Evangelou-Ryan bout was an international Heavyweight contest between Ireland based Cuban Mike Perez and Ohio, USA’s Zack Page. It’s always good to see the Heavyweights in action, to have two heavyweight bouts on the same show is a real treat, especially when one features such a talent as Mike Perez.
Perez set out his stall early, he was looking for a big knockout finish that’s for sure. Virtually his first big shot shook the durable Page, but the American wasn’t gone to just roll over, after all he’d come to fight. Page used his ring savvy, to stay out of range as much as possible, as well as his jab to good effect. Perez wasn’t deterred one iota and just kept walking his prey down before launching forward with big shot after big shot.
Throughout the bout Perez looked dangerous, you couldn’t help but feel that Page would end up on the canvas, it really was a matter of when not if. Page’s first visit to canvas came early in the third but was rightly waved off, as it was more a comedy of errors than a punch that sent the off balance American back stepping across the ring, before landing on his ‘ass’. A short while later Perez takes a visit to the deck, again this was waved off as it was a slip.
Pages second visit most definitely was a knockdown, again this was in the third stanza, Perez launched himself forward a connected with a solid left to the body to send the American down.
Both fighters settled down in the fourth to put on a great show of boxing for the crowd. Perez was by far the more effective but you can’t take anything away from Page, he resisted the urge to stay on his toes and took the fight to Perez at times. One really good exchange see Page mirror Perez’s southpaw stance, the instant result see the pair simultaneously land solid right hand jabs. Perez kept pushing forward and let off a lightning quick right-left.
Perez started to started to pile on the pressure in the fifth, the pace may have been slower but the big punches really started to fly. When the round ended no one was left in any doubt on just how durable Page’s chin was, I mean he took four thunderously heavy lefts and just shrugged them off.
There was another trip to the canvas for both Page and Perez in the sixth, Page seemed to slip and in doing so dragged Perez down with him.
The final two rounds see Perez pressuring throughout, clearly intent on adding another stoppage finish to his record. Page really did a great job avoiding each exocet Perez fired in his direction and make the final bell. After an excellent and highly entertaining eight rounds referee Richie Davies scored the bout 80-71 in favour of Perez, exactly the same as I did.
The preceding bout see Islington’s John Ryder destroy Luke Osman in under 6 minutes. Ryder was on fire right from the opening bell and systematically walked down Osman before letting rip with big body shots, often followed with a follow up to the head. On various occasions, both in the first and second rounds it looked like Osman would be headed for a trip to the canvas, so there was no surprise when yet another vicious left to the body that Osman dropped to one knee to take the count.
Osman showed massive heart as he rose to his feet, deeming attack being the best form of defense took the fight to Ryder. After about fifteen seconds or so Ryder backed Osman to the ropes and started another foray, with a huge double handed attack. Luckily the referee spotted Osman was not defending himself and jumped in, on the two minute and fourteen second mark, to stop the fight before Ryder could inflict any further damage.
Ryder looked everything a true prospect should be, he’s climbed to the top half of my list of ‘ones to watch’ following this performance, that’s for sure.
Talking of my list, one of the perennial front runners, the supremely talented Light Middleweight prospect Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng was also in action, against Birmingham’s Dee Mitchell.
Ochieng was hoping for an English title shot on the show but when that didn’t materialize quite happily decided to stay busy with a six rounder.
Throughout the rounds Ochieng showcased his full arsenal of punches, as well as demonstrated his defensive ability to the full. The early rounds were played out in centre ring mainly, with some cracking exchanges from both men.
As the bout progressed Ochieng played to the stands, happily positioned with his back to the ropes he would dip and sway, avoiding everything that was thrown at him, before picking off Mitchell with crisp clean lefts and rights.
It was another cracking bout, Ochieng confidently controlled the rounds with his superb skills, don’t get me wrong Mitchell fought his heart out, but a classy operator like Ochieng can make anyone look average.
The crowd, which had been chanting ‘Eagle, Eagle, Eagle, throughout turned the volume up another notch when John McDonald announced Ochieng the victor by a 59-55 points margin.
The second bout of the night see Upminster’s Ryan Taylor take on York’s Graham Fearn.
Taylor boxed superbly thoughout the bout and easily controlled the lively Fearn, except for an aggressive attack early in the second when Fearn let rip with a fourteen punch flurry.
Throughout Taylor used his jab to good effect as well as occasional pulled some excellent uppercuts and hooks from his arsenal. Taylor really kicked it up for the last thirty seconds of the final round and landed some big shots that shook Fearn to the core. No surprise that when the referee’s score card was read out Taylor has secured his first win by a 40-36 points margin.
The opening bout of the night see former World title challenger Albert Sosnowski against Birmingham’s perennial entertainer Hastings Rasani in a six round Heavyweight bout.
What a cracking opening bout, both protagonists came for a scrap that’s for sure, throughout the bout the pair went at it hammer and tongs. Rasani has a bit of a reputation as an upsetter and to be honest showed that form against the former European Champion.
It was Rasani that took the high road to pressure his younger opponent, often letting rip with massive rights that tested Sosnowski’s chin to the max, mind you Sosnowski tested Rasani’s resilience on almost as many occasions each round.
In one way I was quite pleased the referee scored the bout a draw, even though I had Rasani ahead by a single point on my score card, as both men really did put on a excellent show, one that set the tone for the top class night of boxing.
Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport really did pull out all the stops with this midweek event, it was first class. It was great to see Colin Lynes back in Championship action, and of course securing another title, it was also great to see some of our best young talents getting an outing on a televised show. My only disappointment on the whole event was some of the decisions and poor scoring, but that’s not down to Eddie or Matchroom.