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Campbell and Coyle thrill the Hull fans

By Rachel Aylett: It was two out of three for the local fighters in Hull on Saturday night, as both lightweights Luke Campbell and Tommy Coyle scored impressive victories. The unsuccessful local was Samir Mouniemne, who failed in his attempt at the vacant Commonwealth featherweight title against Yorkshire rival Josh Warrington.

The nominal main event featured Olympic gold medallist Campbell, now 3-0 (3), against journeyman Lee Connelly, now 2-6 (0). This opponent had not been stopped in his first seven fights but, of course, was no match for the former star amateur who received tremendous support from his hometown crowd. The best that can be said for this exercise is that at least Campbell was taken a few rounds, as the tough Connelly survived into the fifth and at least managed to stay on his feet before being stopped whilst pounded on the ropes. Campbell predictably won every second of every round but all it achieved was a bit of record-padding. Sky television commentator Jim Watt broke with protocol in criticising the match, calling it a pointless exercise. Campbell should be stepped up quickly after this. As Olympic champion he could already realistically hang with the top lightweights in Britain and the likes of Connelly, although game, will cause him no sleepless nights. Promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed after the fight that Campbell would box again on the undercard of the upcoming Carl Froch-George Groves bill on 23 November.

Tommy Coyle, 17-2 (7), is one of the best lightweights in the UK. He came close to proving it in July when facing veteran Derry Mathews and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. He was stopped in the tenth round of that Commonwealth title fight by Mathews whilst within sight of the winning post. Undaunted by that setback, Coyle took a valuable victory here in Hull with the scalp of another veteran, Scotsman John Simpson, 25-10 (11), in the process winning the IBF International lightweight title and presumably as a result a place in that organisation’s top 15 world rankings.

Coyle, now being trained by former European champion Jamie Moore, is hugely talented. He is fleet of both hand and foot and comfortably defeated the career-featherweight Simpson. Simpson was never the fastest at his natural weight and with the added poundage of moving up to lightweight was never going to have the speed to compete with his bigger, faster rival. He tried manfully to pin Coyle on the ropes, but even when he managed to do so, Coyle was never outgunned on the inside, matching Simpson punch for punch. For the most part though, it was Coyle moving around the ring and catching the oncoming Scot with his quicker shots, particulalry the right hand lead which was the dominant punch in the fight. At the end of the second round, Simpson walked onto a counter right-uppercut which deposited him on the canvas. Although always in the fight and, in fact, taking the fourth round, this was always a step too far for Simpson. He was falling farther and farther behind when, in the seventh round, he was sent to the canvas twice more with right-handers to the head, causing referee Phil Edwards to wave the fight over.

There were some whispers that Edwards had stopped the fight too early and that Simpson was ready and willing to continue. Yes, Simpson could have continued, but with blood seeping from a cut over his right eye and also his nose, he looked a sorry sight and Coyle had clearly demonstrated his superiority. There is no way Simpson was going the distance on this night. Simpson had come in as a replacement opponent for former European champion Gavin Rees, who had been injured in training. Here’s hoping that the Coyle-Rees encounter can be rescheduled as that will be an absolute cracker. Coyle’s burgeoning relationship with Jamie Moore looks set to reap large dividends.

The big heavyweight fight on the bill saw Australian Lucas Browne, 18-0 (16), up against Manchester’s giant Richard Towers, 14-1 (11). As they lined up in the ring prior to the action they looked like two characters from the Popeye cartoon, perhaps henchmen of the beastly Bluto, for those of a certain age who will be familiar with that character. On the contrary, they are two of the nicest guys in boxing. Tonight though, they put their friendship aside and their undefeated records on the line.

The doubts had set in for Towers in his previous fight in June 2012, against Frenchman Gregory Tony, when he had come within a hairs-breadth of defeat, before pulling the fight out of the fire. He had been battered around the ring in the fifth round by the unimposing Frenchman but had somehow come through to claim victory in the ninth. Against the heavy-handed Aussie, he was never going to be let off the hook once hurt and so it proved.

The two big heavies were clearly wary of each other, and little action ensued during the first couple of rounds. Towers poked out his long left jab, but looked terrified of getting hit in return. Browne bided his time and knew that opportunities would arise for him to land his big shots. The first of these came in the third round when a right hand from Browne sent Towers stumbling across the ring into the ropes. Browne followed up, but was trying to be too precise with his right hand shots, enabling Towers to avoid them. Browne continued to stalk in the fourth, without a great deal of success, but in the fifth he trapped Towers on the ropes again. This time he let his shots go and had Towers almost horizontal on the ropes as he battered him with rights and a couple of left hooks. As the referee pulled Browne off, Towers stumbled to the canvas. He did manage to beat the count but his legs had completely gone and the referee rightly waved it off. Towers was falling around the ring like a drunk and couldn’t possibly have continued.

I note that now has Browne ranked as the no.17 heavyweight in the world. Unfortunately, this is probably about right. I say unfortunately because this shows the paucity of quality heavyweights that are active today. Watching the big Aussie, one couldn’t help notice his lack of real ability. He has no balance and is really no more than a novice. Indeed, this is the word he used to describe himself in the post-fight interview. He has raw talent but at the age of 34 it is difficult to see how much improvement can be made with him. It was notable that Adam Booth, the new trainer of Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Price, was in the audience. This fight was a final eliminator for that title and it will be interesting to see if Booth and Price decide to take the match. There is no doubt that Browne is very heavy-handed. Even his jab knocks his opponents heads nearly off their shoulders. Of course, Price is leagues above Browne in skill and ability, but equally there is no doubt that Browne’s power carries a huge threat to Price’s future. A shout out for Ricky Hatton, who promotes both heavyweights. Hats off to him for allowing them to meet.

The other main fight on the bill was a bit of a disappointment as what looked like a 50-50 fight on paper turned into a comfortable victory for Josh Warrington of Leeds, 16-0 (1), who scored his biggest career victory to date over Samir Mouniemne, 12-1-1 (4), for the aforementioned vacant Commonwealth title. Mouniemne exhibited a flashy, hands-down style, which carried the first two rounds. Warrington stuck to his orthodox jabbing style though and soon got the better of the Hull man, taking all the rounds from the third through to the last when his deadly accurate shots finally took their toll and Mouniemne was stopped whilst shipping punishment on the ropes. I, for one, expected a lot more from Mouniemne, who is the only man to defeat outstanding British featherweight Lee Selby as a pro. However, he showed very little tonight and doesn’t seem to have a future at top level. For Warrington, there is no reason why he cannot now fight for the British title, and good matches await against the likes of domestic rivals Ryan Walsh, Martin Lindsay and Marco McCullough.


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