By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
On Saturday night the boxing fraternity made it’s annual pilgrimage to the British home of Horse Racing – Newmarket – for the Graham Earl, in association with the TKO Boxing Gym, promoted ‘Return of the Mac’ event.
Before I get onto the actual fight report I have to say that this was my first visit to Newmarket and more importantly the Tattersalls Sales Rooms, which is an exceptional facility set in stunning grounds on the outskirts of the beautiful town. The sales room itself has to be the premier small hall venue in the country, the circular design makes the venue feel more like a Roman Amphitheater and provides the fans with an unrivaled viewing experience. I was mightily impressed as you may be able to tell.
Another thing that impressed me were the changing rooms, now usually these are quite bland and cramped, and in some cases downright decrepit – please note York Hall. Not so at Tattersalls. Initially the house fighters were located in the red room – a huge hall like room with priceless oil paintings adorning every wall, leather Chesterfields sofas and a huge Chandelier as the centre piece.
However Johnny Eames stated a preference for the smaller State rooms as used in previous years, which again featured priceless oil paintings etc, but also more importantly included both Sky TV and a close circuit TV link from the Sales Rooms,which enabled the fighters to be able to relax pre-battle by watching Chelsea versus Tottenham Hotspurs as well as all the action and drama as it unfolded from each bout.
Graham Earl and Johnny Eames created the event and, along with Roy Hilder, matched it to give the fans a feel of old time Roman Gladiatorial battles, each fight really did have that feel about them, especially the headliner which featured – and was named in honour of – Newmarket’s very own ‘Phat’ Pat McAleese, who locked horns with Newark’s AA Lowe.
Right from the opening bell both protagonists decided attack was the best form of defense and started trading in the centre of the ring, matching punch for punch, until around the second minute when McAleese changed tack slightly by moving around Lowe before letting rip with an assortment of combinations before lithely moving aside, causing Lowe’s shots to find nothing but fresh air. It was that final minute that secured the round for McAleese in my book.
Round two was more or less more of the same, albeit it more of the same as the final minute of the first round, McAleese was on fire, at times making Lowe’s efforts seem rather amateurish, which they were far from. McAleese showcased a series of body to head combinations, One of which started with a vicious left to the body followed by a right to the head before slipping back to the body with a screaming left right double. Late on Lowe started to push forward to try and take control but was often met with a solid jab or a straight right to stop his forceful advance. An easy round to call in my book, it was McAleese’s.
Normal service resumed in the third, with both McAleese and Lowe throwing all caution to the wind. However, no matter how hard Lowe tried to push forward, throughout McAleese just planted his feet and played the body of the Newark man like it was xylophone. It seemed that McAleese could plant single and combinations of body shots at will. Again I see this round an easy call for McAleese.
The fourth see McAleese shoot from his corner as the bell sounded to meet Lowe, who was just a few feet out from his corner, with a solid right to the chin before again slipping down to land a stinging left to the body. Lowe really showed his mettle in this round, he took some serious punishment but just kept coming forward, he just would not back down no matter how many times a McAleese exocet pierced his defense.
Round five was more or less the same with McAleese shooting forward on the bell to cut of the ring. Again McAleese let rip with vicious body shots throughout in an effort to slow down the constantly forward coming Lowe. Mid way through the round McAleese’s work rate slowed noticeably, occasionally allowing Lowe to gain some success. Each time this happened it seemed to light the blue fuse paper to detonate yet another McAleese body salvo. This was a much closer round, similar to the first, but even though Lowe had the higher work rate it was still McAleese that landed the more meaningful punches, enough in my book to secure the round.
The scene was set for a cracking final round, Lowe’s trainer former World Champ Carl Greaves told his charge in no uncertain terms that he needed a knockdown or knockout in the final round to get the win.
Right from the opening bell the tables were turned, this time it was Lowe who shot out of the corner to close down the ring and force McAleese back onto the ropes. With McAleese corralled Lowe let rip with a salvo of combinations. McAleese weaved and ducked his way out of trouble only to be chased down and receive another relentless attack. In his hurry to evade yet another attack McAleese lost his footing and crashed to the deck, luckily the referee had seen that no contact had been made and waved the count off.
With Carl Greaves screaming from his corner Lowe stepped up a gear and continued his attack, with even more vigour, and landed a peach of a right which sent McAleese reeling back onto the ropes. McAleese used the momentum against the ropes to catapult himself into the path of the fast forward moving Lowe and let rip with a big right of his own which stopped the Newark man in his tracks, momentarily.
Lowe again stepped up a gear and again forced a tired looking McAleese back onto the ropes with another flurry of nitro burning punches. Then, with barely seconds of the round to go, Lowe let rip with a soid left jab that sent the tiring McAleese to the canvas.
All fears of a repeat of the ending of the McAleese-Noble battle last year quickly subsided as McAleese made his way to his feet to see out the final second or two of the round and secure a much deserved victory with a 58-56 points decision.
Carl Greaves remonstrated with referee Mark Green, as he felt the two points for the knockdown was enough to secure the win for his man. Greaves then approached McAleese’s manager/co-trainer Johnny Eames to ask for a rematch, and to add a little extra gravitas to the proposal suggested that it should be for a title. Now that’s a mouth watering prospect.
Whilst McAleese-Lowe was without doubt a great fight the preceding battle between Slough’s Ian Bailey and Mansfield based Latvian Pavels Senkovs was a cracker and rightly received the accolade of being named the fight of the night.
Right from the outset both protagonists set out their stall in the centre ring, with neither seemingly willing to concede any ground whatsoever, what followed was a minute or so of good old fashioned slug fest.
As the round progressed the diminutive Bailey began to use his lesser height as an advantage, by dipping and moving around Senkovs before letting off powerful bodyshots of rib cracking proportions. Senkovs tried in vane to thwart Bailey’s regular forays to the body with long sharp jabs. Unfortunately for Senkovs his height advantage was working against him as Bailey easily avoided the downward shots.
Round two and three were very much more of the same, except that Bailey’s movement became more and more fluid and his body attacks became even more frequent. Please don’t go reading this as total domination on Bailey’s behalf, it wasn’t just that Senkovs was at a disadvantage being the taller of the two. Senkovs put together many excellent attacks, that pushed Bailey back onto the ropes, but the ever mobile Bailey would absorb part one and move out of the way for part two before returning with yet another body attack. Late on in the third Bailey switched to the head, as Senkovs covered up the body to prevent yet another painful attack, the result soon showed as Senkovs right eye reddened noticeably.
The previous rounds were nonstop action, yet somehow the pair summoned up the energy to step up the pace for a final round slug fest. With a do or die attitude both went in search of a stoppage finish, letting rip with bomb after bomb with little thought of defense. Again Senkovs’ height advantage worked against him as Bailey constantly moved around him to land huge hooks to the body. At the end of twelve minutes of virtually nonstop action referee Mark Green raised Bailey’s hand aloft declaring him victor by a 40-37 points margin.
The second bout of the night see the professional debut of Ipswich Super Middleweight Henry Bacon against Canning Town’s Costas Osben.
Osben was clearly intent on putting his 1-1-1 record back into the positive column by the way he took the fight to the new boy. Bacon on the other hand was barely fazed by the ferociousness of Osben’s opening salvos, instead the youngster kept a cool head and turned to his trusty jab to keep the Londoner at bay.
As the round progressed Bacon started to take the fight back to Osben, picking his shots rather than jab his way out of trouble as he did in the early part of the round. As the seconds ticked away Bacon’s confidence grew in leaps and bounds and no matter how much Osben pushed the youngster just responded with a crisp jab followed by a stinging right hand.
Seeing a second potential drawing near, Osben really stepped up the pressure in the fourth and just attacked, attacked and attacked. Unfortunately for him though the previous round had given Bacon the confidence to weather the storm and retaliate with some excellent boxing, enough in fact to win the second round also.
Osben’s attacks in the third were much milder than in the previous rounds, no real surprise there as he exerted a lot of energy, to no avail, in the second. This allowed Bacon to take total control of the bout and just pick off the rapidly tiring Osben at will with some quality jabs, hooks as well as some beautiful combinations at times.
The final round was a war, Osben summoned up all the effort he could muster as he went searching for a stoppage finish. He pushed and he pushed but Bacon thwarted every effort masterfully. About two minutes in, whilst Osben had him backed onto the ropes, Bacon responded punch for punch and then let rip with a vicious right that virtually stopped Osben in his tracks. Perhaps it was his inexperience but instead of going in for the finish Bacon used the opportunity to get away from the ropes. Further excellent exchanges littered the final minute. No surprise that referee Mark Green’s decision went to the debutant, by a tidy 39-37 points margin.
The opening bout featured Cheshunt’s undefeated Welterweight Bobby Gladman against Nottingham’s highly experienced Matt Scriven. On paper this looked a no brainer as Scriven’s record shows his last win was twenty fights ago. Saying that Scriven is known as a tough battler who always comes to fight.
There was that much action in the first round as both the protagonists seemed to be feeling the other. The second round on the other hand was a totally different affair.
From the opening bell Scriven went on the attack, forcing Gladman to utilise his jab in an effort to thwart ‘The Scrivs’ many forceful forays.
Round three see a total turn around, instead of just using his jab Gladman started to counter with heavy hands each time Scriven let rip. In the first minute Gladman let rip with a big right hand that clearly shook his opponent. However Scriven seemed undaunted by this and just stepped up the pace. Another close round, one I felt Gladman had done just enough to win.
The final round was another punch fest, Scriven did the more work, whilst the clearly tiring Gladman landed the more telling shots. At the end of the bout I feel referee Mark Green was one hundred percent correct declaring the bout a draw.
Graham Earl and Johnny Eames should be commended for taking their show on the road and taking the risk of promoting such an event in a rural location. They should also be commended for putting on an excellent night of boxing, It may have been just a four bout show but the assembled crowd at Tattersalls went away more than happy as they were treated four top class all action fights.