Friday the 23rd was the first time I’d been to a boxing card promoted by Ringside, and while a decent night of fights it didn’t leave me with a good impression of them as an outfit. The card at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre was originally due to be headlined by Birmingham’s Matthew Macklin vs Vinny Baldassara, but Macklin was forced to pull out due to a chest infection. Fair enough, everyone knew about this well ahead of time and a replacement had been found. On the night, however, Johnny Punter finds out that two more fights were off and unreplaced – the bouts involving Scott Ibbs (his opponent dropped out) and the Pele Reid (it was announced that he had a stomach complaint, although an expression of “Have I?” passed over his face as he sat near ringside). Now, I know these things can’t be helped, but the fact that the tickets still cost a whopping £35 (with fewer fights and fewer ‘names’) is fairly galling. Further annoyance was summoned as a result of having to listen to the near-useless compere doing the ring announcing all night. At one point he couldn’t read his own notes; at numerous points he tried (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to get a series of clearly unwilling figures from the crowd to come up into the ring to be politely applauded and then moved on, like metaphorical performing apes.
None of this is the end of the world, but I can’t claim to be impressed. I get the impression that Ringside’s primary interests lie in their ‘corporate dinner shows,’ though, and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if they considered the ordinary cards like this (and the satisfaction of the people that go to them) to be ancillary affairs of less importance.
Moaning aside, the fights were alright. Waj Hussein fought bravely against Gavin Deacon in the opening bout, but was out-powered from start to finish and knocked down in the second of four rounds. He remained tenacious right through, though, taking the final round with repeated precise flurries. It wasn’t enough. Max Maxwell looked to me like he was having a lot tougher time of it against Peter Dunn than the 59-56 score would suggest. He showed speed and power, but despite his considerable height advantage seemed reluctant to jab. Peter Dunn, meanwhile, found a lot of openings over the course of the fight to land heavy shots and wasn’t hesitant to slam a few in below the belt. There’s no question that Maxwell won, but it was far from a walkover.
D. Mitchell totally outclassed Garaint Harvey over four-threes and showed why he’s seen as such a big prospect. His switch-hitting advance to both the head and the body saw little effective response from Harvey other than the occasional need to hold on. The fight of the night came next, in which James McKinley took a 60-55 win over Matt Scriven. This was another slightly deceptive score – although McKinley was firmly in control for most of the fight, the outcome remained in doubt right up to the final bell as Scriven was repeatedly able to score hard punches over the top of his dropping hands. Exciting and enjoyable stuff to watch.
I’d read about local boxer Lee Jones having come from the world of kickboxing, but it was only when I saw him in person I realised that I’d actually seen him compete under those rules in the past. Dur. He brought a bit of the showboating I saw from him back then into this fight against Phil Callaghan, but I really don’t think it was justified in this case – having been knocked down by a whopping overhand right in the first round, it was a race against time for him from then onwards. He took the following three rounds by means of establishing a firm jab, but Callaghan kept managing to come back with that right. A narrow 38-37 win for Jones, and one he really had to work hard for.
In the main event, finally, Cello Renda (replacing Matthew Macklin) took out Vincent Baldassara in three and looked very good doing so. He stalked Vinny for the first two rounds, forcing him back with the jab. Baldassara looked like he was beginning to re-assert himself in the third before a mighty left hook knocked him from there into next week. A stylish finish (and in half the time it took Elcock to stop him, interestingly).
Another version can be read here.