Copper Box undercard
By Rachel Aylett: I suggested in my preview to this show that the undercard flattered to deceive, and so it proved. Aside from the main event, the only truly competitive match was that fought for the Commonwealth super-featherweight title. This saw Liam Walsh defending that title against fellow unbeaten Joe Murray.
Both had identical 14-0 records going into the fight and although Walsh had more experience as a professional, Murray had a stellar amateur career in which he won a bronze medal at the world amateur championships.
The fight proved as close as was anticipated with Walsh taking a majority decision after 12 outstanding rounds of boxing. Murray put forth the best performance of his stuttering career tonight. He showed some of the terrific skills he had shown as an amateur but that we had not seen since he turned professional. For the first half of the fight he held a slight lead, as he forced the normally counter-punching Walsh to take the lead and picked him off as he came in. It was noticeable though that Walsh never looked overly concerned. Murray clearly didn’t have the power to hurt him and Walsh had a look of self-assurance, even in the rounds where he was being outboxed.
I had Murray two points up at the end of round five but it was at this point that he started to slow somewhat and allowed Walsh to spend more time on the inside, thudding away with body shots. Indeed, one of these clearly hurt Murray in the seventh round and he almost wilted. He even admitted to his corner at the end of the round that he had been hurt to the body. There was a final fling from Murray in round eight, which he took, but the writing was on the wall and from this point on Walsh swept the last four rounds to make the result fairly comfortable in the end. The judges scorecards read 116-112 and 116-113, both for Walsh and 114-114. I agreed with the middle score. These two were well-matched but I don’t see either of them reaching world level. Certainly, there seems to be a fragility to Murray which will always hold him back.
The best performance of the night belonged to new European heavyweight champion, Dereck Chisora, who won that title by blasting German, Edmund Gerber to defeat in the fifth round. Chisora came to the ring at his lightest ever weight and it’s great to see him taking the game seriously at last. In this mood he was far too good for the rather ordinary German and dominated most of the fight. The only exception to this was in the fourth round when, out of the blue, Gerber landed a cracking right hand bang on Chisora’s jaw, forcing him to back off to the opposite side of the ring. Chisora was clearly badly hurt as he tried to stay away from Gerber for the rest of the round. The German didn’t seem to realise how much he had hurt his opponent though and let Chisora off the hook. In the next round Chisora had fully recovered and was smoking again. As in the first three rounds he got in close and smashed away at Gerber’s body with thudding hooks, then bringing them up to the head. Gerber was getting marked up badly and when Chisora forced him to the ropes the referee jumped in to rescue him. There was no argument from the German corner.
Chisora was a revelation tonight and showed that in this shape he is a genuine world top-10 contender. He recently stated that he would like to go to the USA and fight Deontay Wilder on US television. What a great fight that would be!
Another fight on the card saw an absolute stinker between British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Frankie Gavin and his challenger David Barnes. Barnes was considered lucky to get this shot, as he hadn’t scored a meaningful win in a number of years. However, he didn’t make the most of it, instead being as awkward as he could be and making Gavin look bad. Gavin was a wide points winner but was clearly disappointed with his performance at the end. He never seemed to get to grips with fighting a fellow southpaw and struggled to show his superiority. We will see a lot better from Gavin in the future and I am sure he was happy to get this fight out of the way, as victory clinched him the Lonsdale belt outright.
Dmitry Chudinov, the unbeaten Russian middleweight prospect, made another appearance on a Frank Warren show and took an easy eight round points win over former British title challenger turned journeyman Max Maxwell. Never at any stage did vaunted puncher Chudinov bother Maxwell and he looks distinctly ordinary. A bit of a bruiser, he is showing little improvement in his skill-set, despite the presence of John David Jackson in his corner.
The other major fight on the card featured British and Commonwealth super-flyweight champion Paul Butler, who boxed for a WBO-inter belt against undefeated Chilean Miguel Gonzalez. Butler, who was expected to win inside the distance, was taken 12 rounds for the first time and despite winning comfortably on all three cards, was given an uncomfortable evening by an opponent who had never previously boxed outside Chile. To be fair to Butler, Gonzalez was a nightmare, having a jack-in-the-box style and never staying still for a moment. Butler just couldn’t get to him to land his heavy shots. Two of the scores, 120-108 and 119-110 looked too wide to me. I thought the 117-112 score handed in by the third judge was closer to the mark. This proved that talk of a world title challenge in the near future for Butler is extremely premature. If he had been in with some of the top Asian or Latin American fighters tonight he would have been defeated. He needs a lot more work before he is ready for those challenges.
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