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Francis Stops Oakey

Tony OakeyBy Michael Lieberman: Though neither of these guys will ever be a major champion, British Commonwealth light heavyweight champion Dean Francis (30 (KO 24) + lost 3 (30-3, 24 KOs) and BBBofC British light heavyweight champion Tony Oakey (25-3-1, 7 KOs) put on an exciting bout in which both fighters stood toe-to-toe for much of the fight until the 32 year-old Oakey ran out of gas and was subsequently flattened in the 9th round by Francis in a scheduled 12-round bout on Saturday night at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth, in Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Even after he had nothing left, and was no longer landing cleanly with his mostly weak shots, Oakey continued to apply pressure. His aggressive style caught up with in the 9th round when Oakey walked into a left hand, sending him to the canvas. At the time, Oakey was in the process of landing his own shot and wasn’t paying attention to his defense. Oakey got up, though badly hurt, and gamely attempted to fight despite looking to be completely out of his senses.

Francis then teed-off on Oakey, hitting him with a series of good left hands, followed by a right uppercut and left hook that snapped Oakey’s head back, staggering him badly. Without giving Oakey a chance to go out on his shield, the referee Richard James Davies quickly moved in and halted the fight at 2:47 of the 9th round.

As much as I like Oakey as a fighter, the loss wasn’t all that surprising, because he’s more of weak-punching, blue collar type fighter, who wins some and loses and is more of a people pleasing type fighter than any real kind of champion. I suppose you could say the same for Francis, a heavily muscled fighter, with little hand speed and surprisingly little power as well. However, he had just enough power to take out Oakey on Friday night, but that seemed more because of Oakey’s lack of defense than any kind of new round power on the part of the 34 year-old Francis, mostly an a slow arm puncher.

Francis looked good in the 1st round, ripping off left hooks, jabs and fast flurries to win the round. Oakey, who usually starts out really aggressively, was driven to a standstill by the constant incoming fire from Francis. If this was how Francis fought all the time, I would think he could be perhaps good enough to win a major title, perhaps even good enough to beat one of the top fighters in the light heavyweight division like Chad Dawson, Joe Calzaghe or Antonio Tarver.

Unfortunately, after the 1st round, the over-muscled Francis looked like he had punched himself out already, breathing hard and looking really tight and pumped up. All his muscles seemed like a waste, because the equally weak-punching Oakey, strangely enough, seemed like the harder puncher. Oakey took over the fight in rounds two through five, applying a lot of pressure and fighting at a very high pace. By the end of the 2nd round, Francis was cut under his left eye, and his nose was bleeding, as well.

Francis, who fights good (not great) on the outside, was smothered constantly by Oakey, getting hit with non-stop short punches from Oakey. The fast pace that Oakey was setting forth seemed like a gamble, because if he didn’t score a knockout soon, he was at a great risk of burning out himself and getting stopped. However, at this point in the fight Oakey’s furious attack-style of fighting was working well for him, as Francis was still far too exhausted to throw much more than an occasional jab or arm punch.

In the 4th round, Oakey began to start showing signs of fatigue, as he began to have problems landing cleanly, though he was still applying a lot of pressure. He was pressing forward now with almost nothing, flinging himself on Francis and throwing his arms like they were two dead weights. If Francis had been a little better fighter, he would have likely have taken advantage of Oakey’s fatigued state in this round and began giving him problems. He couldn’t, though, because Francis was still exhausted from the 1st round and could do little more than jab, cringe and cover up.

In the 5th and 6th rounds, Francis began to climb back into the fight, realizing that he could throw left hooks without much problem and without having to exert much energy. Francis could do this because he wasn’t putting his body into hooks like normal fighter would do. Instead, because of his poor stamina and lack of flexibility, Francis would throw the left hooks while standing straight up. Naturally, this took off a lot of power from the shot, but it didn’t matter because the shots were at least landing, which is more than could be said for Oakey, who was mostly missing at this point in the fight.

In rounds seven and eight, Francis stayed busy throwing short, somewhat fast (okay, not fast all, but at least fast for a plodder like Francis) shots to the head of Oakey. Francis began having success by throwing short piston-like punches over and over to the head of Oakey, reminding me somewhat of the way that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was boxing the head of Ricky Hatton in their fight in December.

Again, these shots weren’t thrown with much power, because, frankly, I won’t think Francis could fight hard for more than a round without tiring out completely, like he did in the first round. Oakey, for his part, looked terrible, missing almost everything and appearing like a physical wreck. His whole body seemed to be saying, ‘okay, I’m done for the night, where’s the pub?’

In the 9th round, I wasn’t the least surprised when Francis caught Oakey with a decent left hook to drop him to the canvas. After all, Oakey looked finished two rounds before and seemed to be on a crash course for a knockout loss. The only reason it took this long was because of Francis’ mostly pedestrian boxing skills, which enabled Oakey to hang around as long as he did. At any rate, after Oakey hit the canvas, I figured it was over, that the referee would stop it right then and there. He didn’t. Instead he gave began counting, at the count of eight, Oakey dragged himself to his feet, and walked forward at the request of the referee.

Perhaps not wanting to anger the crowd, which seemed idolize the blue collar Oakey, the referee allowed the fight to continue even though all but the most love sick of Oakey’s fans knew he was going to be getting planted in the next few moments. Sure enough, Francis hit Oakey with left hands – all arm punches – then hit him with a decent right uppercut that snapped Oakey’s head backwards, following closely by a left hand that staggered Oakey. The referee then moved in and put a stop to the fight.

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