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Norton Decisions Steeds, Wins Vacant BBBofC British Cruiserweight Title

LatestBy Nate Anderson: Five years after failing an attempt to win the BBBofC British cruiserweight title in a losing effort against Mark Hobson in September 2003, Robert Norton (30-4-1, 19 KOs) finally won the elusive title on Saturday night with a one-sided 12-round unanimous decision over Micky Steeds (12-3, 3 KOs) at the Meadowside Leisure Centre, Burton-on-Trent, in Staffordshire. Norton, a ripe 36, knocked Steeds down once in the fight, dropping him with a cuffing right hand in the 6th round. The knockdown, however, appeared illegitimate as it was more of a push than a punch and Steeds was off balance due to him rushing forward at the time.

Besides that one glaring bad call in the fight, Norton dominated the entire fight, using his two inch and enormous five inch reach advantage to control the shorter Steeds and win an unusually easy decision. The fight was fairly boring, with few real hard punches landed in the entire fight.

Norton, a fighter with an impressive physique, but with absolutely no power to speak of. In essence, he’s like the cruiserweight version of heavyweight Chris Byrd, only without Byrd’s speed, defensive expertise or his low level pop in his shots. Norton looked for all practical purposes like a weak version, both in power and defense, of Byrd. A southpaw, like Byrd, held his right hand way in front of him for most of the fight, holding it at his hip level and trying to time Steeds so that he could land right hooks.

That was pretty much his only real weapon, because his hand speed was so poor that he rarely was able to land his left hand without getting hit on the way in. He’d wait on Steeds and once he came within range, he’d clip him with his right hook and knock him off balance. Steeds looked as if he’d never fought a southpaw before and seemed to have no answer for Norton’s right hooks, and was hit often by them as he came forward.

In rounds one and two, there were few punches of substance landed by either fighter. Mostly they pawed each other, clinching often, missing often and both showing absolutely horrid hand speed. They both fought as if they were deep under water and fighting against a lot pressure from above. Norton got the better of it due to his longer reach, and was able to connect with a lot of slow jabs. Even his jabs were painfully slow, and I can’t imagine a good cruiserweight having any problems whatsoever picking it off and driving a right hand down the pipe on him.

Rounds three and four were equally boring with a lot of missed punches, pushing and shoving, clinching often and weak shots from Norton. He landed a few lefts but nothing special due to his hand speed issues. In the 6th round, the referee appeared to blow a call when he ruled that Steeds, who was shoved by the head by a fight hand causing him to tumble to the canvas, that it was a knockdown. In the large scheme of things, it mattered little but it was annoying that the call appeared to have been wrong. By the 7th, Steeds face had turned a bright red.

I’m guessing that was probably due to the exertion he was putting in rather than the punches Norton was landing, because he wasn’t hitting him all that often, and the shots he landed seemed pretty weak and inconsequential. In the 9th round, Norton started to go right hand crazy, throwing nothing but right hooks over and over again. He was terribly predictable and quite boring to watch, because he seemed almost amateurish for a fighter with as much experience – 15 years – as he had as a professional boxer.

By the 10th rounds, Steed was hopelessly behind in the fight and needed a knockout to win. However, he was too slow, too weak and didn’t have the tools to get behind Norton’s huge reach adv advantage. In rounds 10 through 12, Norton just stood back like a small mountain, waiving his right hand way in front of him like a large spider, waiting for Steeds to come in close so that he could hit him with a right hook. A good fighter would have reached out with an overhand right and dropped Norton before he could crank up his painfully slow hook. Unfortunately, Steeds didn’t have the required skills to make that happen and ended up losing by a lopsided decision. The final judges’ scores were 119-108, 118-110 and 118-109.

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