By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
On Saturday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool young guns Kevin Mitchell and John Murray had a true Western style shoot out.
From the moment Dagenham gunslinger Mitchell confidently moseyed his way into the arena to the chants and jeers of Manchester’s top gun Murray’s fans it was clear that this was a very different ‘Mighty’ from the one that was gunned down big time by Aussie shootist Michael Katsidis last year.
Mitchell’s resolve and intent was obvious to all, no more was he willing to play second fiddle to Murray. Right from the off he dug into his fully loaded arsenal to let rip with a pin point accurate double handed flurry. Murray shrugged of the initial assault and walk the Londoner back onto the ropes before launching an equally vicious attack of his own.
Dipping and swaying Mitchell avoided virtually everything Murray threw at him before slickly stepping aside and letting rip with a series of punishing hooks to the body. The resilient Mancunian responded as only he can, standing his ground, absorbing each rib cracking shot and timing his counters to perfection, but Mitchell was more than just ‘Mighty’ he was already beginning to look magnificent as he secured the first round.
The second was another cracking round. Mitchell seemingly using his superior body work to slow the ever forward moving Murray, that is until about midway through when Murray lands one of his massive rights. Mitchell reels back to the ropes and yet another Murray double handed salvo rains down on the Londoner. A close round but Murray just about nicks this one in my book.
Right from the opening bell of the third Murray starts hunting down his quarry. Mitchell attempts to keep him at bay with crisp jabs but it just slows the raging bull down for a second or so. Mitchell dips back into his arsenal and pulled out a couple big powerful rights, only for Murray to respond with a double handed assault of his own. Moments later Mitchell turns the table and backs Murray onto the ropes and lets rip with a massive double handed salvo that sees out the round. It was another seriously closely fought round, but I felt Murray had just done enough to make it his own.
The fourth sees a good old fashioned toe-to-toe slug fest open up the proceedings. Murray launched big Bertha round, whilst Mitchell mixed it up and firing off a series of rocket powered uppercuts and hooks, to both body and head. In the dying seconds of the round Murray backed up the Londoner to the ropes again, Mitchell avoided everything Murray threw at him before sidestepping and turning the tables, backing Murray to the ropes, and launching a big double handed salvo until the final bell. No doubt in my mind the was ‘Mighty’ Mitchell’s round one hundred percent.
The fifth sees Murray walking down Mitchell, but this time instead of dipping and swaying his way out of trouble the Londoner responds with a series of three punch combination of uppercuts and hooks to the body which appear to have a major effect on Murray. Mitchell is quick to notice this and turns the heat up letting rip with wicked body shots, uppercuts and double handed salvos to the head which start to slow the ever advancing Murray. An easy round to call in Kevin’s favour, but don’t go thinking it was one way traffic, it wasn’t.
The effects, to Murray’s face, of the previous round were clear to everyone as he came out for the sixth, there were noticeable dark swellings under both eyes. Mitchell was quick to notice these and set his sights and let off a series of exocets to the head each time Murray came within range. A real ding dong battle ensued, Mitchell letting rip with hooks and big right hands whilst Murray responds with megaton bombs and short sharp rights to the side of Mitchell’s head. What a round it was pugilistic heaven and far too close to call.
Round seven sees Murray charge like a raging bull closing down MItchell before launching a series of seriously hard jabs and big rights, Mitchell responds with yet more double handed exocets to the head. By mid round Murray’s face is looking like a train wreck. In the dying seconds it looked like Murray was heading to Boot Hill, Mitchell lands a massive Nuke that sends Murray reeling and rocking, but before ‘Mighty’ Mitch zoned in for the kill the bell tolled. Sure I don’t have to say this was Mitchell’s round.
Again Murray charges forward from the opening bell, but the moment he came into range Mitchell launched yet another exocet before moving in to let rip with a massive uppercut followed by big double rights, Murray responds in similar vein and an all out war ensues, which abruptly ends with a massive left hook that sends Murray face down to the canvas. Murray makes the count but Mitchell is on him in a flash and lets rip with another wicked combination that rocks Murray to the core and left the referee no option but to stop the fight after just one minute and forty six seconds of the round.
Prior to Mitchell-Murray Scotland’s Ricky Burns defended his WBO Super Featherweight World crown in emphatic fashion against former champ Dagenham’s Nicky Cook.
Perhaps my ‘emphatic fashion’ statement may seem a little too much for some because of the serious back injury Cook received following the very first exchange of the fight, but I feel it’s the correct term because of the perfectly executed body shot, followed by a hard right to the head that preceded, and possibly caused the injury.
After the first exchange Cook crashed to the deck in a twisting motion, which is without doubt what caused the injury, and instantly was in distress. Showing the heart of a lion Cook decided to continue but within seconds was on the deck a second time. Clearly in distress Cook managed to get to his feet for a second time to bravely fight on, but not for long as the very next exchange see him sent to deck for the third time by a big left.
In an instant Cooks corner threw in the towel – well not so much a towel it looked like a handkerchief to me – and both corners and the paramedics rushed to assist him. After a short delay the stretcher was bought into the ring after which Cook was taken to hospital.
Preceding Burns-Cook the highly anticipated Tony Bellew-Ovill McKenzie rematch, of their December 2010 thriller, took place.
Prior to fight Bellew had stated that he was looking to box the full twelve rounds. Well you can’t say that Bellew isn’t a man of his word because that’s just what we got.
I have to admit I was really looking forward to this bout, expecting an all out slug fest with a couple of knockdowns thrown in for good luck – you know just like their previous encounter.
The first three rounds see McKenzie trying to force Bellew into a fight but he seemed content to stick to the game plan and not get drawn into a slug fest, instead using his jab to keep the forward coming McKenzie at bay.
There were a couple of moments of note such as late in the second when McKenzie threw a stinging right and on other occasions where Bellew would counter with a nice left-right. The three rounds were close but I felt that McKenzie had not been the busier but also threw more meaningful shots.
There was a little more real action in the next two rounds. Following a beautiful exchange, reminiscent of their first encounter, Bellew let rip with a cracking hard right followed by a solid left to gain centre ring for the first time. As the round progressed possession of the centre ring switched back and forth a few times. Both were close fought affairs but I felt that Bellew had landed the more meaningful shots to take the rounds.
McKenzie came on strong, in the sixth, backing Bellew up before letting rip with a salvo of exocets that rocked the Merseysider. I have to admit Bellew’s resilience was impressive, those shots would have surely floored a lesser man. It wasn’t all one way traffic though as Bellew loaded a few good shots but I felt that McKenzie had done enough to secure the round.
After a couple of first class exchanges round seven was a quiet and fairly even affair, in comparison to the previous rounds.
Round eight was clearly Bellew’s, who started strong letting off a couple of heavy rights. His jabbing was sharper and the right hand venomous. This was more like the Bellew we all know.
Round nine was a bit of a scrappy and close affair with very little meaningful action from either.
The tenth was another fairly slow round, that is until Bellew exploded into action with a wicked double handed attack, to which McKenie responded in kind. Late on Bellew turned the wick up and became more forceful, however I still see this round for McKenzie, just.
Round eleven was another fairly slow close round, this time though I couldn’t really split them.
The twelfth and final round initially shaped up to be quite lively, however these two know each other way too well thanks to the last meeting and as such it quickly turned into a magnificent game of chess type affair and stayed that way until the final bell.
I was quite surprised when the judges scores were read out as a unanimous 119-110 and 118-111 (twice) points decision in favour for Tony Bellew. I know that many of the rounds were very close and could have gone either way but to my view not that many to give such a clear victory in his Bellew’s favour.
The first title fight of the night see Curtis Woodhouse challenge ‘Funtime’ Frankie Gavin for his WBO Inter-Continental Welterweight title.
The fight starts off quite edgy with former professional footballer Woodhouse controlling centre ring, Gavin seems content to just play off the jab for most of the round. Action highlight of the round was when Gavin came in off the jab to let rip with a cracking combination to the body. Very close round, could go either way.
Frankie steps things up and takes control of centre ring in the second early in the second, again the highlights of the round mainly see Gavin letting rip with crisp sharp combination to the body of Woodhouse. Late in the round Woodhouse turned the tables and landed some solid body shots. Another close round but I felt Gavin had done the better work.
Continuing the good work from late in the previous round, Woodhouse takes the fight to Gavin via some good stiff jabs and solid straight rights. Gavin responds with a peach of an uppercut. As the round progressed Woodhouse went on the hunt again and landed a cracking left-right combination ending with powerful hook to the body. Woodhouse finished strong but even so I still see this as Frankie’s round.
The fourth was a bit of a messy round with neither doing anything special until Gavin turns on the style and starts picking his shots to claim the round as his own.
‘Funtime’ continued his good work in the fifth through to the tenth round to control centre ring and keep the gutsy Woodhouse at bay. The best action came late in the sixth after Woodhouse lands a cracking right to Gavin’s head. This seemed to wake up ‘Funtime’ who responds with a choreographed flurry of body shots. All rounds were Gavin’s in my view.
Round eleven sees Woodhouse step up things and land big rights at will early on. Gavin responds with some nice hooks to the body and so begins a round full of top class back and forth action. It was a great close round, I personally see it as Woodhouse’s but could so easily have gone in Gavin’s favour.
The twelfth and final round see Gavin turn on the ‘Funtime’ style. Some great toe-to-toe action mid-round. In the dying seconds Gavin shook Woodhouse to the core with a big right but was unable to finish him off before the bell rang.
Surprisingly the result was deemed a split decision with 114-115, in favour of Curtis Woodhouse, and 117-112 and 116-113 in favour of Frankie Gavin.
Preceding the big four championship bouts see Ellesmere Port’s Paul ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ Butler take on Sheffield based Kuwaiti Anwar Alfadli in a four round Bantamweight contest.
Alfadli started the better of the two and took the fight to the Merseysider, it took young Butler the first couple of minutes to suss out Aldadli’s awkward style, but when he did he made the round his own with some exceptional body-head combinations.
Having found his way around the Kuwaiti’s style Butler really turned on the style to dominate the bout, and pick his shots at will to cruise to a well deserved 40-37 points victory.
Joe Selkirk’s middleweight battle with Terry Carruthers lasted slightly longer the Burns-Cook fight.
Selkirk sent Carruthers to the deck with a vicious left hook in the opening thirty seconds of the round. Carruthers makes the count but Selkirk is all over him like a rash letting rip with a double handed salvo of big shots. No surprise referee Michael Alexander quickly jumps in to stop the fight on the one minute fifteen second mark.
Unfortunately due to a ‘travel problem’ I arrived at the Echo Arena midway through the Ronnie Heffron versus Barry Jones bout and as such had missed a large part of the undercard. But have to say I was mightily impressed with the slickness of the promotion and the hospitality I and all the journos received from Warren Promotions, especially Francis Warren and Richard Maynard.
Ronnie Heffron beat Barrie Jones (6 x 3 – 60-56 points)
Rocky Fielding beat Jamie Ambler (6 x 3 – 60-56 points)
Callum Johnson beat Lee Duncan (4 x 3 – 40-36 points)
Craig Evans beat Scott Moises (Technical Decision, round 5 – 50-46 points)
John Loveday beat Howard Daley (4 x 3 – 40-36 points)
Mike Stafford beat Paul Morris (4 x 3 – 40-37 points)