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O’Donnell Defeats Watson, Wins Commonwealth Welterweight Crown

Craig Watson John O’DonnellBy Nate Anderson: Making his 2nd defense of his welterweight Commonwealth title, champion Craig Watson (13-4, 4 KOs) was upset in a 12-round split decision by challenger John O’Donnell (21-1, 9 KOs) tonight at the York Hall, in Bethnal Green, London. Watson, 26, fought well in through much of the fight using his jab, right hooks and left hands to control the tempo of the fight against challenger O’Donnell.

However, Watson seemed to lose energy as the fight progressed O’Donnell began to get to him more and more with hard combinations. Over the last four rounds of the fight, O’Donnell, 23, looked to be the stronger fighter of the two and had the better work rate. Watson, who hadn’t been in the ring in close to a year since defeating Matthew Hatton by a lopsided 12-round decision 11 months ago in May 2009, looked rusty and significantly less sharp and energetic than he did in that fight.

Of course, O’Donnell showed to be a much better opponent than Hatton, forcing the older Watson to work hard and making him expend energy in the early rounds of the fight.

Watson showed impressive speed in rounds one through six, hitting O’Donnell with fast combinations to the head and body, and then quickly getting out of range. However, O’Donnell kept pressing the action and succeeded in hurting Watson with a blizzard of punches in the 7th that had Watson on unsteady legs and ready to go.

In rounds eight through twelve, O’Donnell continued to pressure Watson, landing the harder shots. Watson kept firing back with his own punches, but he had much less on them due to the fatigue factor. However, the fight was very close in the end, making it hard to pick a clear cut winner.

I had O’Donnell edging it by a round or two. The fight was exiting throughout and I could is definitely a candidate for fight of the year.

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