By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
It’s been rather lean times for boxing in the Capital so far this year, which in turn has meant that local fighters, especially those from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town deep in the heart of London’s East End, have barely been in action.
Last year it seemed to be barely a week between some major news on one of the many star fighters based at this legendary fight factory.
You had Kevin Mitchell utterly destroying John Murray, which was followed by speculation on World title fights against the likes of Ricky Burns or Brandon Rios, Leon ‘Solid’ Williams wrestled the British Cruiserweight title from Rob Norton’s iron grip, Colin Lynes reemerged to outshine ‘Lights Out’ Lee Purdy to grab the British Welterweight crown, Ben Murphy was sensational on both his Southern Area Lightweight title defense, against Tony Owen, and then two weeks later challenging Ashley Theophane for his British Light Welter strap. Former Olympian Billy Joe Saunders got in on the act and snatched the Southern Area Middleweight belt from Gary Boulden’s hands.
Not just that but every week at least one of the crew were in action somewhere or another and it seemed that every Prizefighter had at least one TRAD TKO representative on the show.
Other than Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng’s magnificent lifting of the English Light Middleweight title, so far 2012 has produced very few highlights for the Canning Town stars and a major low, when Leon Williams, who was defending his title for the first time against Shane McPhilbin, got stopped in the twelfth.
Leon was just 2 minutes away from certain victory – he had sent McPhilbin to the canvas twice and was eleven rounds up going into the final round – when McPhilbin caught him with a clubbing punch to the back of the head, which sent the Champ to the canvas. Unfortunately Williams was still disoriented when the fight was restarted and McPhilbin took full advantage to claim a ‘Rocky’ style against the odds victory.
There were a few minor outings for the likes of Billy Joe and Kevin, but it has been the youngsters, such as George Jupp, Frankie Buglioni, Wadi Camacho, Billy Morgan, Charlie Hoy etc. that have kept the TRAD TKO banner flying so far this year.
However this past weekend that all changed, with a bang, with no less than five fighters in action, four at the Royal Albert Hall and Ben Murphy defending his Southern Area title at the Camden Centre in Kings Cross.
Jimmy and Mark Tibbs oversee the proceedings at The Royal Albert Hall, as it was four of their charges in action. Headlining the show was Billy Joe Saunders, who took on Tony Hill for the vacant Commonwealth Middleweight title, with support from the sensational Frankie Buglioni, Freddie Turner and ‘Irish Lightning’ Dean Byrne.
I’m not going to go too much into this show now as Part 2 will feature Jimmy Tibbs and his view on this historic event, all I will say is that as I am sure you know Billy Joe is the new Commonwealth Champ, Frankie got his third first round stoppage win in four outings, Freddie Turner cruised to a points victory and Dean lost a very close fight to Terry Holmes.
Whilst Jimmy and Mark hand their hands full at The Royal Albert Hall, TRAD TKO head honcho Johnny Eames and his talented sidekick Barry Smith were at the Camden Centre in Kings Cross, where Ben Murphy was defending his Southern Area strap against Phil Gill.
Whilst all the press coverage seems to have focused on Billy Joe’s magnificent victory, Ben’s victory, which was wrongly overlooked by the media, was equally sensational.
Ben dominated the proceedings right from the opening bell, after just one minute Phil Gill was backed onto the ropes, Ben let rip with a vicious right that shook the Waltham Abbey man to the core, Phil grabbed hold to try and tie up Ben, big mistake as all this did was step back and fire off a battery of big left and right hands.
Phil was reeling from the attack and it looked like a knockout finish was on the cards, that was until the referee Jeff Hinds decided enough was enough and stepped in to stop the fight after just two minutes and thirty five seconds of the first round.
Earlier today I spoke with Ben’s coach the ever entertaining Johnny Eames to get his views on the excellent performances of the squad last weekend, amongst other things.
“First of all I want to congratulate Billy Joe Saunders on his magnificent win, for winning the Commonwealth title. I actually spoke to Billy yesterday and he was very congratulatory on Ben Murphy as well, which is nice as it shows comradeship as well.
Getting on to Ben Murphy, yeah I mean it’s as if he was wanted to get beaten, he was on his own promoter and manager’s show, who coincidentally manages the other guy. Ben’s the Champion yet we were in the room with all the losers, we was in the away corner, with all the losers, the only difference is we came out the winner.
Fair play to Phil Gill for taking the fight, I mean once again it was like a man against a boy, I mean after the first three punches Phil Gill nearly went, and Ben just pressed it on.
The most pleasing thing about Ben’s win is Barry Smith and myself have been working on a few things in the gym, on getting his distance right, and this is the first fight he has had his distance right from bell one as the result shows for itself.
I don’t think Phil landed one punch, well probably did land one, but when he did Ben just laughed and walked right through it and did what he does, only better than he normally does it. You know the accuracy was fine, if you see Phil Gill after the fight he looked like he’d been in ten rounds, not one.
All I can say now is, any lightweight in Britain, and I mean any lightweight in Britain Ben will fight. It’s not up to me to press for fights that’s the job of his manager, I’d like to think he will.
We had a couple of stern words after the fight, myself and his manager, and I told him what I felt as that’s the type of person I am. I feel for my fighters, I live for my fighters and Ben is one of my fighters. If you ain’t treating him right you get told you ain’t treating him right, simple as that.
Derry Matthews is a friend of mine, and he’s a really nice guy, but I do believe that Ben will beat him, without a shadow of a doubt. Again I say any lightweight in Britain Ben will fight and I hope his manager presses those claims.”
Johnny then went on to praise the three further TRAD TKO based boxers that fought on the undercard of Billy Joe’s Commonwealth title fight at The Royal Albert Hall.
“Obviously I didn’t get to see the show, as I was with Ben in Kings Cross, but well done to Mark and Jimmy (Tibbs) for the performances of their boys, Freddie Turner and Frankie Buglioni at the weekend and commiseration to Dean Byrne, who was in a fight that I believe he should have won, could have won, but they say ‘should have, could have, would have’ don’t count. He was in the away corner, unfortunately sometimes that goes against you, you know you’ve just got to get over these things and press on.”
With a busy month or so ahead for the TRAD TKO team Johnny then turned his attention to upcoming fights featuring their boxers, “This Thursday Mark and Jimmy (Tibbs) have Charlie (Hoy), Tom (Baker) and Gary (Corcoran) out at Francis and George Warren’s BoxAcademy show at the Troxy.
**STOP PRESS** Just as this article was being sent out news arrived that the BoxAcademy event at the Troxy this Thursday has been cancelled.
Colin Lynes is next out, on the 12th May in Sheffield. He’ll be defending his title against Junior Witter. It’s not an easy fight but am sure Colin will win it.
Then we have Danny Connor in his first ten rounder, at York Hall on Miranda Carter’s May 20th show. He’ll be in a rematch with Tyler Goodjohn.
I’m sure he will perform how he normally performs. Danny’s really improving under the watchful eye of Alec (Wilkey).
We’ve got a few fighters on that show. Del’s (Derek Grainger) doing a great job with Menay (Edwards) and Eric (Mokonzo) and obviously Barry (Smith) and myself are really happy that Leon (Williams) will be out again.
Sorry I forgot Areti (Mastrodovka), another of Alec’s fighters on the show, I’m not a great lover of Women’s boxing but am certain that she can go on to be a star in Women’s boxing.
A week later, on the 26th, Erick’s (Ochieng) got a big night in Nottingham. Erick’ll be defending his English title against Andrew Lowe. Brian (Lawrence) has done a great job with Erick, Andrew’s a battler but really can’t see anything but a win for Erick.
Getting back, it’s nice to be busy, then again we’ve been quiet for a period, there haven’t been that many shows to get our boys out on.
I also forgot to mention we have Mitchell (Balker) and George (Jupp) on Spencer Fearon’s June 2nd show at the ExCel, just two weeks after Miranda Carter’s show.
So yes it’s a busy time at the TRAD TKO gym and hopefully we can come through with all wins.”
Whilst Johnny and the boys from the gym may have had a quiet start to the year it seems that the coming months will be anything but quiet, which isn’t just good for them but also us – the boxing fans.
Watch out for Good Weekend for the East Enders – part two, which has Jimmy Tibbs giving his inside view on the excellent Frank Warren show at The Royal Albert Hall.