|A successful night for Liverpool boxing - Ringside Fight Report
By John Wharton, at ringside for Doghouse Boxing (Sept 23, 2013)
On a night when a local family made boxing history, a Liverpool legend retained his title and a prospect made the step up to title level. It was appropriate that all this drama should be served up with a former vaudeville theatre as the backdrop.
'Dirty' Derry Mathews faced Curtis Woodhouse in the first defence of his Commonwealth lightweight title. Promoter Eddie Hearn had billed the bout as 'War', and that was just what many were expecting. The reality, however, was different, as Mathews used his experience and greater skill to keep to the game-plan devised by trainer Danny Vaughan.
Woodhouse started off the fight as the aggressor, trying to force the champion back, but the Liverpool fighter used his sharp jab and straight rights to hold the challenger off and take the initiative. Woodhouse had some success in round three, backing Mathews up to the ropes and landing several hurtful blows, but they didn't faze the Liverpool fighter.
In round four, the champion upped the pace. Midway through, Woodhouse dropped his hands and Mathews capitalised landing a left hook before a short chopping right dropped him. He rose at six but staggered into the ropes, leaving the referee no other choice but to stop the bout.
After this impressive victory Mathews will now be looking to move on and was pushing for a fight with WBO champion Ricky Burns and with performances like this, it would be difficult to deny he deserves his chance. Woodhouse, who looked dejected post fight, still has good options available to him, and boxing fans would like to see him stay in the sport and continue to entertain.
The chief support was provided by local lad Liam 'Beefy' Smith, who was looking to make history in his bid to become British light-middleweight champion as he faced Erick Ochieng. By winning the title, Smith would become the third Smith brother to currently hold a Lonsdale Belt, something which had never been done in the long and illustrious history of the championship.
The Liverpool man forced the pace throughout the contest, but Ochieng is a fighter who is happiest with his back to the ropes. The early rounds saw him have some success when countering Smith. The bout was give and take, making it was difficult to score the early rounds. Whenever Smith landed the jab and right hand combination, Ochieng would fire back with vicious looking body shots. Smith, the former Rotunda amateur, stepped up the pace after the halfway mark with his greater accuracy and higher work-rate. After twelve gruelling and exciting rounds, the home fighter was given a unanimous decision from the judges with scores of 117-112, 117-112, and 116-113.
Former Prizefighter winner Rocky Fielding blitzed Ghanaian Mohammed Akrong in just over a minute of the first round. Fielding landed a huge left hook that floored Akrong within the first twenty five seconds. The Ghanaian never recovered from the shot and another left hook sent him reeling into the neutral corner, only staying upright thanks to the ring-post. A barrage of shots from Fielding trapped Akrong in his own corner and referee Steve Gray stepped in to save the African from further punishment. Fielding takes his record to 16-0(9) and will be looking for a British title shot before too long.
Hot prospect Callum Smith, the youngest of the Smith brothers, came into his bout with the tough, awkward Gambian, Patrick Mendy, on the back of five successive first round knock-outs. Mendy had been chosen by promoter Eddie Hearn to provide the youngster with a tough test, and give him much needed rounds.
Mendy has been in with some good fighters and had never been floored, nevermind stopped, despite being in with quality operators like Kenny Anderson, Dmitriy Chudinov and Patrick Nielsen. Smith, however, walked right through his opponent and landed a big right hand early in the first which wobbled him.
Mendy never recovered from the shot and soon found himself floored by another huge overhand right. Smith trapped Mendy in his corner and never relented in his attack, eventually forcing referee Victor Loughlin to step in at 2:53 of round one. Smith gave Mendy no chance to recover and, perhaps, could have stopped his opponent even earlier had he listened to his corner, sat down on his punches and not crowded his own work.
These are minor criticisms, however, and Smith sent out a message to his rivals in the domestic super-middleweight division. The future looks bright for the 23 year old, who has all the necessary tools to become a major star in the sport. With his sixth consecutive first round stoppage, the Liverpool fighter broke the British record for first round knock-outs.
On the under-card, Dave Coldwell's prospect, Robbie Davies Jr, looked impressive in stopping Josh Thorne in the first round. A big right hook floored Thorne, and from that point on Davies never let him off. A left hook to the liver dropped his opponent again and it looked like the referee was going to call the fight off, but he allowed Thorne to continue until another body shot almost floored him again. He called the fight off at 2:09 of the opening round.
Also on the under-card, Ryan Aston and Tyan Booth faced each other in a rematch of a bout from last year which ended in a technical draw after a head clash cut Aston above the eye. This time the bout lasted the full distance, but the result was just the same. Debutant Peter Spencer fought veteran Matt Seawright and, despite appearing to win every round, he was given a tight 39-38 points win.
A successful night for Liverpool boxing that saw a veteran champion retain his title, the coronation of new British and Commonwealth champions, a devastating performance from the best prospect in the game, and wins for two up and coming prospects. Liverpool is often regarded as the best fighting city in Britain, it wouldn't be too outlandish to make the claim for it being Europe's premier boxing city.
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