Fight Report: Selby And O’Meara Retain Titles, Saunders and Turner Impress In Style.

By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

Frank Warren knows a thing or two about putting on a top class fight night and boy has he put some great shows on over the years. Usually his real all action extravaganzas are reserved for the bigger venues around the country, places like the O2, Excel, M.E.N., Echo Arena etc. however last night the King of British Boxing pulled out all the stops for a small hall show at the York Hall in Bethnal Green.

Heading up the classy lineup was Lee Selby’s first defense of the British and Commonwealth Featherweight straps he won back in September, with a fantastic eight round stoppage of Liverpool’s Stephen Smith.

Right from the off Selby went on the offensive, effectively using his jab to keep the super tough, and former holder of both titles, Simpson at bay. Each time the Scot made any move forward the Champ just stood his ground before throwing out a series of stiff jabs to push him back. Nice nonstop action opening round that was easy to score in Selby’s favour.

Second round was even livelier, Simpson just kept going forward, but as before Selby just resorted to his jab for the early part to thwart every move Simpson made. Frustration was already starting to settle in and by the end of the second minute Simpson started to throw some wild shots, problem was he left himself open to be picked off by some nice double handed counters. Another excellent round for the Champion.

More of the same in the third, Simpson’s shots were getting even wilder and again were leaving him open for Selby to counter, which he did with more force than in the earlier rounds.

Simpson’s trainer, Billy Nelson, obviously gave him a good talking to between the rounds as he came out and took the fight to Selby in a much more controlled fashion, so much so that he was actually getting some good success, landing some big shots. Selby responded in similar fashion and this lead to some great exchanges. Much closer round, but I still felt it was Selby’s round – just.

It was more of the same in the fifth, but as before it was Selby that seemed to be getting the better of each exchange. The round was a real firecracker that had the fans on the feet from almost the opening bell right through to the second minute mark, when Selby let rip with a peach of a left hook to the body that sent the Scottish challenger to his knees.

Simpson made it to his feet to take the count, but referee Marcus McDonnell could see that he was in no fit state to continue and waved the fight off on the 2 minute 2 second mark.

In doing so handed Simpson his first stoppage loss in his illustrious career. Selby, now with five stoppages in six outings, proved without doubt he’s the best domestic Featherweight and ready for a shot at the European crown.

As with virtually every Frank Warren Promotions show supporting the main event is another title fight of similar stature, last night’s was no exception. West Drayton’s Steve O’Meara stepped in to defend the Southern Area Light Middleweight belt he won back in September, with a sensational first round knockout of then champion Ryan Toms.

O’Meara’s opponent, Thamesmead’s super slick ‘Sugar’ Nathan Weise, bought to the table a 7-1-2 record that included a recent draw over previous champ Toms.

No surprise that the Mark Tibbs trained Weise went straight on the attack forcing O’Meara onto the back foot. O’Meara remained calm as he looked for an opening, he didn’t have to wait too long though, as around the fifty second mark Weise stepped in to let off yet another jab O’Meara released a wickedly fast left jab-right hook combination that sent Weise crashing to the deck in an instance.

A hush fell across York Hall as referee Ken Curtis instantly waved the fight off and the ringside doctor and paramedics rushed in to assist the prone Weise. It was a good few minutes before Weise was raised to a stool – the crowd responded with a standing ovation – but it was clear that Weise still wasn’t one hundred percent, the paramedics kept administering oxygen for a few more minutes before leading him from the ring to the waiting ambulance.

It has to be one of the worse knockouts I have seen in a long, long time but I can assure everyone that Nathan is one hundred percent OK, he turned up at the TRAD TKO Gym, to let his manager Johnny Eames, myself and all the fighters here know that he is OK literally as I was writing this report.

One of Frank Warren Promotions brightest stars, former Olympian and Nathan Weise’s gym mate Billy Joe Saunders, was drafted in at the last minute to face Belfast’s Tommy Tolan following Gym mate Ediz Hussein’s fight being called off, due to his coming down with the flu.

Slick southpaw Saunders went straight on the offensive and landed a massive left that shook Tolan to the core. In an instant Saunders stepped up the attack and literally chased Tolan from one corner to the next and beyond before landing another powerful left. Tolan legs had gone but he managed to stay on his feet, but referee Jeff Hinds had seen enough and just as Saunders was about to let rip with another shot stepped in and stopped the fight on the one minute and seven second mark.

Unbeaten in twelve, with five stoppages out of his last six outings and the Southern Area title already firmly in his grip, it’s clear that Saunders is ready to step up for a shot at either Nick Blackwell (English title) or Martin Murray (British title) for their crowns in the New Year, either of which would be a mouthwatering prospect.

Prior to Saunders-Tolan see unbeaten Welterweight George Michael Carman in action against the ubiquitous ‘Rockin’ Robin Deakin.

Now I hate writing negatives on any fighter, I know how much hard work precedes a fight and it takes serious guts to step into the ring, but having seen Carman in action twice now, the first when he managed to receive a highly dubious ‘draw’ result against Tom Bowen at Wembley in November – back then I, and it seems most of those present, felt Carman lost every single round by a country mile – I really can’t see why he is being so protected.

I mean Deakin is a Super Featherweight, Lightweight at best, with a negative 1-41 record, yet Carman couldn’t even handle him – in my between round notes I said that I wasn’t sure if this was boxing or handbags at fifty paces and that it is hard to think that there is only one journeyman in the ring, sorry but yes it was that bad.

The first three rounds were scrappy to put it mildly, with Deakin keeping the Slough man on the back foot for most of the time. It was only in the fourth that Carman actually started to get the better of the much lighter Deakin.

I have to admit that when he did get ‘fighty’ he was quite slick, but in all honesty it was still totally ineffective work. Deakin was deducted a point in the final round, not sure what for as I didn’t see any wrong doing from where I was. Anyway that aside at the end of the fourth referee Jeff Hinds scorecard read 40-35 in favour of Carman.

Canning Town’s Freddie Turner must have been a little surprised that it was the original opponent Kevin McCauley, and not stated replacement Michael Frontin, that he faced on the night. No matter either way to the Jimmy and Mark Tibbs trained fighter, he was just happy to get a decent opponent for him to showcase his sublime talents.

Round one was a bit of a cagey affair, as both fighters took their time to suss the others tactics. Whilst neither were in the zone yet Turner worked the hardest and landed the most meaningful shots to take the round in my book.

The second however was a much livelier affair, Turner was on the offensive in the early part and landed a couple of big scoring shots. As the round progressed McCauley started to push forward and managed to back Turner onto the ropes before letting rip with double handed flurries. Turner, taking a leaf from fellow TRAD TKO gym mate Kevin Mitchell’s book, just dipped and swayed to avoid every single shot. Another easy round to call, it was Turner’s all the way.

More of the same in the third, including Turner, back to the ropes, luring McCauley in and after a little dipping and swaying effectively countering with stiff jabs and big lefts. The lack of effect really started to get to McCauley, who started to resort to some dirty tactics, including late on in the round backing Turner up before blatantly head butting, which opened up a nasty gash over Turner’s right eye.

Needless to say this fired Turner up when he came out in the fourth, the Canning Town youngster went hard on the offensive, in response McCauley decided to stand and trade – which suited Turner fine, but not Jimmy and Mark Tibbs, who could be heard shouting at their charge to keep calm and just box McCauley.

With four rounds firmly in Turner’s favour McCauley decided he needed to step things up and started targeting the cut, albeit to no avail as Turner’s defensive skills are second to none. McCauley frustrations were clear for all to see as he started throwing wild shots in the hope that something will actually land. Turner responded with some cracking counters that clearly were hurting McCauley, both physically and mentally.

McCauley comes out hard and fast for the final round and tries to plain bully Turner, big mistake as this just allowed Turner to showcase his excellent ringcraft to even more effect as he see his way to a shutout 60-54 points victory.

Turner-McCauley was a seriously cracking fight, as was the fight that preceded it – when Cranham’s Lee Markham took on fellow Essex boy Danny Brown.

The first round was a close fought affair, with both determined to win the battle of the Essex boys, however Markham’s was just a little more effective and took the round in my book.

Markham stepped it up more in the second and landed a wicked shot to the body that caused Brown to take one knee. Brown made the count and continued, however deciding not to take too many chances overly protected his body which allowed Markham to land some big shots to the head.

Still protecting the body Brown came out on the offensive in the third and took the fight to Markham. For three minutes the pair exchanged punches in equal measure. However, as Brown was still wary of being on the receiving end of another big left to the body kept leaving his head unprotected, which made easy pickings for the Cranham boy big right hand.

More of the same in the fourth and final round, both letting rip with big shots as they again went to war for the full three minutes, much to the crowd’s delight. At the end of four excellent rounds no one was surprised that referee Ken Curtis scored the bout 39-36 in favour of Markham.

The opening bout of the night was an all action cracker too, between nineteen year old Alfie Smith and Jason Nesbitt.

Smith showed his intentions right from the start, attacking the body of Nesbitt with big left and right hands. The highly experienced Nesbitt tried to cover up to negate the onslaughts, which only encourage the teenager to play upstairs before returning to the body in style.

More of the same tactics, in the second, from Smith which was really beginning to take a toll on Nesbitt, who was huffing and puffing before the midway point. I had a good long hard look at Nesbitt between rounds and he really looked down hearted and honestly didn’t expect him to stay the course, but I was wrong.

For the final couple of rounds Smith continued his all out assault on Nesbitt’s body. The Brummy battler tried his hardest to take a part of the fight but each time he did the Rottweiler like Smith let rip with big left and rights to push him back. I would think Nesbitt was very happy to hear the final bell, although not as happy as young Smith who has the second win under his belt, and by a tidy shutout 40-36 points margin.

I have to say that as the final major fight show of the year Frank Warren did us all proud, it was a great show which had it all, drama, excitement and three stoppage victories. I know that after such I for one can head into the Christmas break happy in the knowledge that my appetite for boxing is well and truly sated and will see me through to the first big show of the New Year, Leon ‘Solid’ Williams’ first defense of his British Cruiserweight title at York Hall on Friday 13th January.