Call me Russ L

A temporary imbalance of righteousness (or “How Birmingham beat The Black Country in the first leg of the boxing derby”)

Posted in Combat Sports by Russ L on 7 March, 2008

To the Civic Hall in Wolves on the 28th of Feb, for the boxing card headlined by Matty Hough fighting Max Maxwell for the vacant Midlands Area middleweight title. I was looking forward to that no end – a competitive match with something real at stake. Prior to this, I hadn’t been to see any boxing live since September (Elcock vs Eastman), and hadn’t been to a smaller local card since last June. This is mostly because the majority of the First Team (as PJ ‘n’ Errol Promotions seems to be known as these days) cards around here seem to happen on Thursdays and that’s a pain in the arse for me most weeks, but partly due to the fact that one eventually begins to grow weary of “Home Boxer vs Journeyman Who Isn’t Even Trying: oh look, the local won”. I usually enjoy the fights as I watch them, but there are limits.

As such, I was made a happy bunny the day before when I read of Dean Harrison‘s avowal to only fight live opposition from now on. Yes! Actual fights rather than foregone conclusions. That’s what we like.

Even given those proclamations, Deano ended up having to walk through more fire than I anticipated against Ghanaian Alex Brew. The majority of Brew’s game seemed to consist of wild swingy punches, but he actually landed more of them than I would have expected. Harrison stayed firmly ahead more-or-less all the way (I recall only giving the African one round prior to the end), but did seem forced to think a bit more at times. He remained calm throughout, though, hurt Brew at a few different points (the response was generally a bit of playing up and showboating), and put him down in the fifth. The end came in round seven following a knockdown from a left hook. Entertaining stuff, and the fight of the night – a real testament to the different style of matchmaking that led to it happening.

So: the big derby. There was talk of Shard End’s Wayne Elcock not being interested in defending his British middleweight title against Dudley’s Darren McDermott (in spite of the latter having won an eliminator), but since other parties have signed with other entities it appears that the fight is on like neckbone. A two-stage Black Country vs Birmingham derby was thus created: Macca is set to fight Elcka (I just made that nickname up) for the British title in April; the Midlands title was therebye vacated and became open for a decision match between Walsall’s Matty Hough and Jamaica-via-Chelmsley Wood’s Max Maxwell. Matty had long since been one of my local favourites, and had fought his way back from a bit of a fallow period at super-middleweight (where he generally seemed outsized). I hadn’t seen former light-middleweight Max box since his second professional fight (in which he appeared a touch ‘unrefined’, as I believe they say), but I had read plenty about how he’d improved. A good clash seemed likely.

In spite of the size difference not looking as dramatic as it might have done once they were in the ring, Matty started well and used his reach to keep Max(well) at a distance. For a bit, anyway. That phase of the fight came to a halt when he appeared to just walk straight into a left hand. Down he went, and although Hough didn’t seem particularly hurt and even briefly took the advantage again, Maxwell definitely finished the round on top.

Hough employed more grab alongside his jab in the second, and again looked decent in the early stages, but a series of biiiig flinging-a-cricket-ball styled overhand rights (boxing purists will hate this, but it was ‘The Chuck Liddell Punch’) from Maxwell put him down again. The bell went during the count.

Round three? Nothing doing. More of the same right hands, and the ref was forced to step in. I heard a few jeers and boos as I made my sharp crowd-beating exit, but there was nothing unreasonable about the stoppage.

One-nil to Brummyland, then. Macca will obviously be considered the underdog against Elcock, but (even though it’ll be the away leg) I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion and I do hope he can restore the balance of righteousness. Apparently there’s also a chance that Sam ‘The Man’ Horton will be Maxwell’s first defence, so maybe there’ll be a chance for retribution from Errol Johnson’s stable in particular and the Black Country in general there as well. Matty, meanwhile, is considering packing it all in. That would be a shame, but obviously he has to do what’s best for himself.

Elsewhere on the card things pretty much went as you’d expect. Lyndsey Scragg (who stopped previous victim Yarkor Chavez Annan in the last session of a 6×2. Yarkor was rocking a genuinely amazing ‘do, though, and as such they’re both winners in my eyes) and Rob Hunt (who knocked down Senol Dervis three times over a 4×3, leading to the absolutely mad final score of 40-33) did both look very good, but we knew that about them already; Matt Ceawright made me laugh with a bit of the old ‘hands at his waste, head and body movement only’ taunting in what was otherwise an absolute mess of a fight against Martin Gordon; the fans of the big ticketsellers (in particular Deano, Hunt and Scott Evans) were exceedingly vocal and kept the atmosphere buzzing. Routine fare beyond that.

Things ran late, so I had to get a taxi home. I made the mistake of thinking about how much money the evening had cost me. Gulp.

Tom Podmore’s much more thorough and much less Yam-centric account of this card can be read here.

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