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Cruiserweight hopeful David Haye produced a career best display to stop Australia’s Glen Kelly in the second of a scheduled ten-round contest at Rotherham’s Magna Centre on Friday. The Englishman added maturity and control to his trademark power and his world ranked opponent left the ring having been unable to land a single punch.
Kelly entered the ring with a record of 31-2-1, with his defeats coming against Roy Jones Jr and Paul Briggs, and was ranked nine by the WBC. Haye started the evening with a 12-1 slate - the solitary blemish a chastening fifth round loss against IBO champion Carl Thompson. However, the Australian’s greater experience was never a factor.
There was little action in the opening stages of the first round as the pair circled the ring sizing each other up, but as soon as the first punch was landed in anger the fight was effectively over. A straight right-hand from Haye sent Kelly crashing to the canvas and the Australian looked unlikely to survive as he clambered to his feet on unsteady legs. Fortunately for Kelly the bell sounded during the count and he had a minute to clear his head. If it had not been the end of the round referee Micky Vann would surely have called a halt to proceedings there and then - and the thought must have crossed his mind anyway.
It would have been easy for Haye to get over-excited and rush in, looking for the big finish from the start of the second round, but instead he took no chances and waited for an opening. It came around the minute mark when a perfectly timed right felled Kelly again. There was no chance of him beating the count and the towel came in straight away, only for Vann to ignore it and complete his count at 1.09 of the round.
On paper the Australian should have been favourite for this contest, but in reality it was a canny piece of matchmaking. Haye’s team correctly identified Kelly as the lowest risk of the fighters ranked with the major governing bodies and presented their man with the perfect opportunity to show he had absorbed the lessons of his defeat by Thompson. Haye grasped the chance and could not have performed better.
After the fight Kelly’s trainer Dino Billinghurst was gracious in defeat and admitted he was very impressed with Haye.
“Before the fight we said David was one of the best four or five round fighters in world boxing and gave Glen a fight plan to counter it,” Billinghurst told doghouseboxing.com. “But David was just too good.
“Now what David’s got to do is prove he can stay controlled and reproduce that kind of performance when he gets taken deep into the trenches. If he can do that then he’ll be a world class boxer.”
Haye’s camp were understandably delighted with their man’s display, but confirmed they have no definite plans with regards to future opponents. The fight was the last of his, and promoters Fight Academy’s, television contract with the BBC and his team are looking at a number of options, including fighting in the USA on a more regular basis.
It would be a shame for British fight fans if Haye chooses that course. He certainly has plenty of detractors in Britain, but there are potentially some great fights for him on this side of the Atlantic against the likes of British & Commonwealth champion Mark Hobson, WBU titlist Enzo Maccarinelli and European champion Alexander Gurov. Not to mention the mouth-watering possibility of a rematch with Carl Thompson.
The pick of the undercard action saw Bradford’s Femi Fehintola extend his record to 9-0 with a hard-fought victory against Sheffield’s Daniel Thorpe in a six-round lightweight contest. There are high hopes for Fehintola but he was pushed all the way by the more experienced Thorpe during six all-action rounds, before emerging as a 57-56 winner - but only after Thorpe was deducted a point for use of the head in the second.
The unorthodox Thorpe was the more aggressive of the pair throughout but was caught all too easily by Fehintola’s more accurate punching, with the youngster’s right hook consistently effective. Unfortunately for Fehintola he did not have the power to trouble Thorpe and had to survive a final round onslaught before getting the nod. There is no doubt Fehintola, a former ABA finalist, has great boxing skills but unless he can develop some genuine power he may struggle to reach the heights his talent merits.
An all Sheffield heavyweight contest saw Carl Baker, who had a five-stone advantage after weighing in at a staggering 302lb, stop Paul King after 1:17 of the second. After an action free first round, Baker rocked King with a huge, looping left hand and then trapped the smaller man on the ropes as he unleashed a barrage of punches. King offered nothing in return, leaving referee Howard Foster with no choice but to intervene. The result was satisfying revenge for Baker (4-2) after King (5-6-1) handed him his first professional defeat last April.
Highly-rated light-welterweight prospect Kell Brook extended his record to 6-0 with a 60-55 success against Peterborough’s Lee Handley. Brook showed some neat skills in the first couple of rounds, but didn’t settle into any kind of rhythm and, overall, will be disappointed with his performance. However, he showed enough to suggest there will be plenty of better nights ahead for him. Handley, now 2-6, deserves great credit for making a fight of it and taking it to the scorecard after a shaky start.
The show opener saw Sheffield light-heavyweight Amer Khan score a 58-56 victory against the hard-working Karl Wheeler. Khan (9-0) had to get off the floor in the second and produce a strong finish in the final two sessions to earn the verdict. It was a very close call and Wheeler (6-4) may feel a little hard done by.
An entertaining six-round light-middleweight contest saw Sheffield’s Jack Hibbert take a 59-56 verdict against the game Neil Jarmolinski. Hibbert started strongly and looked odds on for a stoppage victory after dominating the opening two rounds. Jarmolinski hung in there and more than held his own in the final two as the Yorkshireman began to flag. Hibbert, who seems destined to be in some exciting scraps, moved to 1-1, while Jarmolinski’s slate now reads 0-2-2.
Also on the bill, Stoke’s Scott Lawton (13-1) emerged with a 58-56 verdict against Bermondsey’s Peter McDonagh (6-8) in the battle of the area lightweight champions, while Sheffield super-featherweight prospect John ‘Fireball’ Fewkes (4-0) boxed well within himself to record a 60-55 points victory against journeyman Jason Nesbitt (5-49).