Pickering and Hughes In Burton Barnburner
By Rhino O’Neill at ringside (Jan 19, 2008) Doghouse Boxing        
Newark’s Esham Pickering (8st 9lb 12oz) reversed his recent 8 round pummelling at the hands of Pontefract’s Sean ‘short fuse’ Hughes (8st10lbs) by stopping the brave Yorkshire lad within the first minute of round 9 in front of a lively partisan crowd at The Meadowside Leisure Centre in Burton-on-Trent courtesy of Hennessy Sports Promotions. Referee Howard Foster had seen enough and saved Hughes from taking unnecessary punishment despite the protests of Hughes’ corner and many hundreds of Hughes’ Yorkshire contingent in the crowd. Pickering retained his British Super-Bantamweight title. Pickering moves to
33-6 (13) and Hughes drops to 14-7 (1).

This was a definite contender for domestic fight of the year. I know its only mid January but hey, the Lonsdale belt often brings out the best in fighters, men have been seen to dig far deeper into their heart and soul when the coveted golden belt is on the line rather than some inadequately decorated alphabet title trinket. If nobbins were still the order of the day then the ring would have been a mass of coins and notes. It honestly was a magnificent spectacle.

The fight started in the same manner as Hughes’ recent victory over Pickering. The Newark man was using his nose to parry southpaw Hughes’ straight left hands and by the end of the second round Pickering’s face was already a mess of claret. Pickering had been rocked on one occasion and many at ringside thought that the light punching Hughes would prove too much for a seemingly shop worn Pickering.

Suddenly in round 3 the fight started to turn the way of the Newark man, Carl
Greaves in Pickering’s corner shouted encouragement as the bloodied Pickering exploded a huge right hand on the chin of the challenger. Hughes to his credit held the shot well but it pointed to what was coming next, in round 4 Pickering once again detonated his right hand on the Pontefract man, this time Hughes dropped like a stone but showed a big heart and dragged himself off the canvas at about 6 and accepted an 8 count from the referee, the fight continued and once again Hughes ate the right hand, down he went again and despite the bell, and rightly, the count continued and Hughes rose again, Phoenix like, and Howard Foster was happy to usher him to his corner and 60 seconds respite. It was however a valuable 10-7 round in Pickering’s favour.

Now Pickering had been in this position before, he had Michael Hunter down twice early in their EBU, British and Commonwealth title bout in Oct 2005 and ultimately let the Hartlepool lad off the hook, and to all at ringside it looked like the same would be happening again, The middle rounds passed with Pickering obviously tiring and Hughes sensing this and trying to work his straight punches down the pipe, both fighters enjoyed relative success and the fight ebbed and flowed to the delight of the crowd and no doubt the live sky audience. The fight had everything, skills heart and blood and guts a plenty. Both lads took turns commanding the centre of the ring, trying to dictate the fight. We knew Pickering possessed the equaliser, unfortunately Hughes does not and this is perhaps what has prevented him progressing further in his career.

Round 9 started slowly, once again both combatants looked tired; perhaps Hughes was the fresher of the two. Suddenly Pickering saw his opportunity and a fast three punch combination saw Hughes head jerk back repeatedly and the Pontefract man dropped his guard momentarily and Howard Foster saw this as an indication that Hughes was no longer able to defend himself, another punch would surely have seen Hughes fall, but the referee stepped in, rightfully in my opinion but prematurely in the eyes of others. We must remember that this is a sport and not a gladiator contest.

Hughes will fight another day for sure, another rematch with Pickering potentially? Who knows, but I’m not sure that the Newark man will want to go through this again. As for Pickering himself, despite showing huge guts and power, he is no longer the force he was, too open to straight punches to be a force on the world scene and at 31 years old he is starting to wilt and his ability to take a shot is definitely in question. I can perhaps see Esham securing a European tilt at best and perhaps a few more contests at peak domestic level therefore securing a few decent purses.

Burton-on-Trent last saw championship action when Neville Brown was stopped in 9 by The Contenders Sam Soliman in June 2000. It was great to see Brown at ringside and looking so well. Also in attendance were Pat Cowdell, Ryan Rhodes, Junior Witter, Wayne Elcock, Jon Thaxton and Gavin Down to name but a few.

The Undercard saw some reasonable action.

At Welterweight Adnam Amar moved to 20-1 (5) with a 3rd round stoppage of Ian Mackillop.

Super-middleweight Sam Horton remains unbeaten after a decent 4 round points workout over Lee Noble.

At Light-Middle Duane Parker moved to 2-0 with a 4 round points victory over the game but limited Lance Verallo.

A lean and ripped Matthew Hainey (11st12) opened the show and was victorious on his pro debut as he turned over James Tucker on points over 4 at Super-Middle. This was a tasty little battle and Hainey in particular looked tired going into the last round.

The stylish but light punching Light-Welterweight Jack Perry went over old ground and beat the durable but un-dangerous Christian Laight over the 4 round distance. Perry moves to 6-0.

And again at Welterweight Muhsen Adaney Nasser moved to 15-0 (2) while he ‘fenced’ his way to a points shutout over 4 rounds against Tye Williams. Nasser looks stylish and rangy but seems to lack a dig, perhaps this will come as he matures in the game.

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