Last night at The O2 arena in South London Matchroom Sports put on a pay per view event that few ever saw coming because of its mixture of the UK’s very best fighters. When the card was announced I have to say that my ears pricked up at the thought of seeing one of my all time favourite fighters Kevin Mitchell be given another opportunity at a World Title shot against a very capable & dangerous Lineares, as well as Anthony Joshua who is always entertaining to watch because he is so good heavyweight prospect that we have had for a few decades. There was also of course Kell Brook, who is without doubt one of our very best fighters and deserved world Champion. The only thing that was of a concern to me and many other British fans was that Gavin just was never going to have much of a chance. It was when I realised that this was the first Welterweight World Title between 2 British fighters in over a 100 years, so fair play to Eddie Hearn for getting this bit of Boxing history arranged. The outcome however was of no surprise.
First of all we had Lee Selby fight Gradovichm for the IBF Featherweight Title. Selby boxed beautifully for much of the fight and left the Champion perplexed at times with his movement on and off the ropes, and in the 7th round a clash of heads occurred which left the Russian with a nasty head injury and in the 8th the fight was instantly called off when the doctor was called in to check on the fighter. Britain now has another World Champion to be proud of and I am looking forward to seeing Selby’s future in the ring. The one request I would ask is to query the claim of being Wales’ Mayweather?
Next up we had Kevin Mitchell in the fight of his life for his long awaited 3rd World Title attempt. I was there at Upton Park in May of 2010 and saw live the utter disappointment at seeing Mitchell being taken apart in 3 very uneven rounds by Katstidis. It seemed at this stage that his hopes of a title had alluded him, but since being in the Matchroom camp under the wing of Hearn, we have seen a rejuvenated Mitchell that we saw in the lead up to Katsidis. The fight started with Mitchell in a commanding lead against Jorge Linares wo in the 5th round dropped the Champion and who at the count of 4 looked like he wasn’t getting up. He rose at the late count to come back at Mitchell and stood his ground. In rounds 7,8 & 9 it was looking again like a 50/50 fight until Mitchell developed one of the nastiest injuries he has received on his left eye and time just ran out as the Champion saw his window and just went to town ont the Londoner in a empthatic and aggressive finish in the 10th round. The referee had no choice but to step in & call off the fight, which was no surprise gioven the injury we were witnessing. Mitchell gave everything to this challenge and I have to say it was one of his best performances, but the 3 time Champion was too much for him.
Next up we had Nathan Cleverly in an unusual 6 rounder against Tomas man which lasted about 15 punches from Cleverly, and a 10 count from the referee. This was definitely one of the worst matchmaking exercises I have seen, given the experience and obvious talent of Cleverly. Lets just hope his next opponent can actually fight back.
(Big thanks to Ian John-Lewis for this exclusive ringside view)
Anthony Joshua was in the ring against the American Kevin Johnson, who has been 12 rounds with Klitschko and our very own Tyson Fury. There was allot of trash talking from Johnson who obviously felt his previous record of never being stopped will put him in good stead against Joshua. How wrog can a guy be? The fight started with Joshua putting together some fantastic combinations which made Johnson flinch at every punch. In the first 1 minute of the fight you can see Johnson’s face change from being arrogant to being confused and bemused at what he was facing. Joshua knocked him down at the end of the 1st round as Referee Ian John-Lewis stepped in to count and at one point it looked like something had flown out of Johnsons mouth piece. (This was not the case as I will explain in a minute) The corner grabbed their man who was didn’t really know where he was, or what had just happened to him as tis was a new experience for the 35 year old. The bell sounded for round 2 and Joshua just jumped on his man and finished him off as his cornerman jumped through the ropes to save him from any further punishment. Joshua really did arrive in the mix of world Heavyweight Boxing last night and I am intrigued to know who he will be facing next in July & September. The item which flew into the ring was apparently a pair of false teeth! I received a text from Ian this morning who told me that this was a first for him too!
In the final fight of the night we had Kell Brook take outsider Frankie Gavin 6 rounds in what was a one sided fight. Brook showed his skills of being an offensive fighter and let gavin defend for most of the fight as it lasted. Gavin did get through with some punches, but the failed to have any effect on Brook who just came forward at every opportunity. Referee Steve Gray had no choice but to step in and call of the fight when Brook took it up a gear with a flurry of well pieced together shots as Gavin was taken apart against the ropes. So what’s next for Brook? There is the obvious Khan super British fight, which I think is bigger than Froch Groves 1 & 2,but there does appear to be some side stepping on both camps on getting this together. I hope this happens as it will be a huge payday for all concerned, and is a fight the British fans will quite happily pay for.
This event was a tough one to sell, only because of the Mayweather Pacquiao ppv on May 2nd and it has been an expensive month already for all Boxing fans. It was only at 7pm last night that I made the decision to actually buy into the event, but I am glad I did because we saw some of the best of British talent at one of the best fight venues in the UK. Bring on the heavyweights for Joshua, who I believe that one day will be our next Heavyweight World Champion, but he needs a real test as Johnson promised in vein to be, no matter how much trash he said, the young Brit gave him one heck of a boxing lesson that he will never forget.