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Babyface Nelson victorious on superb Summer Rumble bill


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http://static.boxrec.com/wiki/b/bf/Summerrumble.jpgPhil Jeffries’ annual Summer Rumble at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light certainly didn’t disappoint. On Sunday afternoon, when Andy Murray was making his own piece of sporting history, it was a special moment for South Shields’ Anthony ‘Babyface’ Nelson as he won the Northern area super flyweight title against Middlesbrough’s Mohammed Waqas.

It was Nelson’s first step up to 10 rounds, whilst Waqas had fought over the distance once before. With this in mind, we could have expected a cagey start as both fighters looked to pace themselves but what we received was nothing of the sort. From the opening bell, Nelson was determined to put it on Waqas and the unrelenting pressure made for an entertaining top of the bill contest which had the crowd on their feet, throughout.

Nelson was landing the more solid shots in the opener but Waqas was also having his success, catching Nelson as he came in. There was a pattern beginning to form that would continue for the duration of the fight.

In the second, Waqas’ work improved as he made Nelson miss more, whilst still catching the South Shields man on the counter. As the round wore on Nelson began to land a few more but not enough to stop Waqas from taking the round.

Nelson responded in the third with his own intelligent boxing. Still applying the pressure and coming forward, he brought more variation to his work as he worked to Waqas’ head and body and the Middlesbrough man looked to be having troubles for the first time.

Waqas has built a reputation as a slick boxer but he is not one to be found wanting when it comes to heart and once again he responded to a good Nelson round. Putting in a noticeable big effort in the fourth, he was able to nullify a lot of Nelson’s work and although the round was still close, Waqas seemed to do enough to shade it.

It was the same again in the 5th session with Waqas boxing skills and grit matched with Nelson’s constant attack. Both had their success and it was almost difficult to split them. As the action moved into the 6th, Nelson looked tired for the first time - it would be interesting to see if was going to be able to maintain the frenetic pace he had brought up to that point. Although Waqas did win the 6th round, the worrying aspect for him was how well Nelson came on in the last minute as he appeared to get his second wind.

Both men were understandably flagging as they entered the 7th round which was unchartered waters for Nelson. It was becoming a real war of attrition with both men landing their share. At this stage, the fight was still in the balance and it looked like coming down to who had more left in the tank and wanted it most. As the round progressed it seemed that Nelson was able to drag more out of himself as he looked to shade another close round.

Despite Nelson appearing to be gain the upper hand, Waqas was not going to give in easily. Boxing well on the back foot throughout, he was even trying to back Nelson up but the big effort from the previous two rounds seemed to take its toll as the round progressed, with Nelson once again pushing his man back and timing left and right hooks to the head and body.

The 9th round was huge, with both men having their moments. Waqas once again managed to back Nelson onto the ropes but he wasn’t able to keep him there and Nelson just kept on coming. Towards the end of the round, Waqas’ legs appeared to give way through sheer exhaustion. Despite being a nice guy out of the ring, Nelson was in no mood to let his man off the hook as he gave his opponent no place to hide.

The 10th and final round was all out action and a credit to both men, as well as their trainers for getting them in such good condition. Waqas gave everything he had but there was no denying Nelson and he just kept throwing leather until the final bell sounded. The fighters embraced afterwards, both of them aware that they had been in a war.

It was a war that Nelson won by 98–95 and there were scenes of jubilation afterwards as Nelson’s trainer, Mal Gates, joined his man in the celebrations. Not only was it Nelson’s first professional title, it was also Gates’ first title as a trainer and a very proud moment for them as their hard work was rewarded. Waqas did more than enough to demonstate that he can still do well in the sport. Nelson’s record moved on to 7-0 and Gates’ next plans are to push him up the rankings in the British scene.

Gates had another of his charges in action on the bill as Lee ‘Lightning’ Mould took on Plymouth’s Ben Zacharkiw in a four round lightweight encounter. Mould, fighting in his home city of Sunderland, was looking to make an impression from the off and instantly started to stalk Zacharkiw. Mould is building a reputation as a ferocious body puncher but it was a left hook to the head which saw him knock Zacharkiw down in the opener. Moving cleverly to the side, he unleashed a big left which caught Zacharkiw on the temple, which he did well to get up from.

Mould sensed his first stoppage in his pro career and as he pushed Zacharkiw onto the ropes, it was crying out for work to the body as the Plymouth fighter looked to cover up from the assault. Mould was not going to disappoint and he caught Zacharkiw with a merciless left hook to the ribs which had his man down and it was clear that he was not going to be able to continue. The fight was stopped at 1:46 in the first and Mould will be looking to build on this success with another outing in the near future.

Mould has had a spell out of the ring due to work commitments but has looked one to watch since making his debut back in May last year. Things are a lot more settled now and hopefully he will be out again soon.

At super middleweight, Sunderland’s Jonson McClumpha took on Newcastle’s Andrew Buchanan in a Tyne & Wear derby that was a lot of peoples’ top fight from the bill. Both men had been out of the ring for spells and rust was a possibility for each of them, although you wouldn’t have known about any absences when watching the fight.

They squared up over 6 rounds and it was a great blend of styles as Buchanan’s slick movement and punch picking took on McClumpha’s come forward pressure. Both men had their success in the first, particularly with the jab. McClumpha looked to be the stronger man but Buchanan was able to make him miss whilst countering with classy combinations and may have edged a very close opener.

It was a similar pattern for the second round. Buchanan had boxed in May but before that fight, he hadn't fought in eight years. It was almost 16 months since McClumpha last boxed and it would have been understandable if he had been given an easier comeback than against his north east rival. There was going to be no hiding for either man and the action was brutal. After another tight round, it was going to be a matter of whether the judges preferred Buchanan’s more regular success or McClumpha’s extra strength and pressure.

The third round was the only decisive round of the fight and this round went to Buchanan. He did not land anything too hurtful but he was clearly outscoring McClumpha with some excellent combinations. McClumpha started to blow a bit and it was going to be interesting to see how he would be able to respond with half of the fight still to go.

The fourth looked like going the same way, with Buchanan once again looking to outbox his rival. He also looked to be enjoying himself in there, possibly too much, as towards the end of the round McClumpha landed some meaty looking right hands up close which could well have turned the round in his favour.

Despite both men clearly, and understandably, tiring as they entered the 5th round, there was no dip in the action. McClumpha kept coming forward in straight lines but was having his success. Buchanan was still the first to get his shots off but like most of the other rounds, it was a matter of whose style the referee was going to prefer.

The sixth was a real barnstormer - both men had their moments on top. The crowd rose as one and were really getting involved in the fight, with both men bringing plenty of support with them.

As MC Brian Houshby announced the scores as a 58-58 draw, it seemed everyone was happy with the result, including the boxers themselves. After the fight, promoter Jeffries was already talking about a rematch, hopefully for a local belt next time over the longer distance.

There were two local debutants on the bill in Anthony Hardy and Michael Hadfield. Both hailing from County Durham, the pair got off to winning starts with impressive performances.

Hadfield took on Pavel Senkovs over four rounds and showed more than enough to catch the eye against the Mansfield-based Latvian. Senkovs is known for his durability and although he only has two wins on his record, they have both come by way of stoppage and he always comes to give it a go, like last time out against another local man, Dougie Curran.

From the opening bell, Hadfield was in complete control as he landed punches in bunches whilst keeping his shape extremely well. Senkovs was looking for openings but they simply weren’t there, such was Hadfield’s dominance. Senkovs’ defence was sound and he was able to take something out of the shots with his gloves, but Hadfield could not have impressed much more in his first fight, taking the card by 40-36.

Hardy was also in for a tough opening to his pro career as he took on steely Tamworth veteran Matt Seawright. After a couple of recent wins on the road, Seawright came in with his own ambitions and looked to draw mistakes from Hardy in the opening round. Hardy wasn’t biting and he dominated a cagey opener from range.

The second and third rounds were a little scrappy, largely due to Seawright having to try something different to get him into the fight. He was ducking low and coming back with wild swings, some of which were landing with success. Hardy, who has a tattoo of his hero Naseem Hamed on his leg, was still doing enough, although an argument could have been made for Seawright in the third.

Seawright continued to show ambition in the final round but walked onto a stiff, southpaw jab from Hardy which forced him to hold on desperately. He showed his experience and was able to get through to hear the final bell, but Hardy’s fans went home happy, as did the fighter himself. Referee scored 39-37 for Hardy.

There was a family feel about the place as the talented Ward brothers, Martin and Thomas Patrick, showcased their skills. Martin, the elder of the pair, was coming back from a stoppage loss to Lee Haskins challenging for the British bantamweight title. Still the holder of the English title, Ward took on Sheffield-based Hungarian Adrian Fuzesi.

The first round was fairly quiet with both men feeling each other out. Ward seemed to start slowly but once he picked things up in the second round, it was only going to go one way. Ward is regarded by many as the most talented of the current north east crop, but his willingness to please the crowd has seen him getting drawn into fights recently and this looked like an opportunity for a return to his slick boxing style.

Throughout the following rounds Ward dominated with an array of attacks to head and body, boxing on the front and back foot with equal ease. His footwork didn’t give Fuzesi much to aim at and as the fight reached the 5th and 6th rounds, Ward seemed to box as he pleased. Running out a comfortable 59-55 winner, local fans will be waiting to see who Ward goes for next in his quest for honours.

Younger brother Thomas Patrick took on Plymouth’s Ben Morrish over four rounds. Ward took the opener with some clean right hands and slick combinations but Morrish came back well in the second as he was able to counter Ward as he came in. Towards the end of the second round, Morrish was able to knock Ward’s mouthpiece out, giving the County Durham man something to think about between rounds.

Ward responded well in the third, timing his shots a lot better and he was beginning to knock Morrish’s head back at times, landing with a variety of classy looking shots. Morrish was plenty game, though, and he rallied well in the last round despite Ward still landing the better, cleaner shots. Ward ran out a 39-37 winner, moves on to 4-0 and continues to look a promising talent.

The Barmy Army were out in force once again to support Hartlepool’s Peter Cope in another entertaining scrap. Cope has built up a terrific following and this time out he was taking on Sheffield’s Qasim Hussain who, at 19, showed plenty of hunger. Cope clearly had the better boxing skills but seemed keen to put on another show for his fans, after winning in the north east’s fight of the year in last year’s Summer Rumble.

Although Cope still did more than enough to win, he made it difficult for himself and, by his own admission, was not his best performance. It was still valuable experience for the 22 year old and it will stand him in good stead as he continues to push towards national titles. Winning by 58-56, Cope will have to use his feet more in future, as he was caught with too many counters in a draining encounter. Credit has to go to Hussain for making it a battle but Cope knows he could have made it easier for himself and will no doubt take that into his training over the next few weeks. Cope now holds a record of 8-0 and his Barmy Army still went home in good spirits.

Another Sunderland fighter on the bill was the impressive Kirk Goodings as he took on Bridgewater’s Dean Mills. Before the fight, Goodings had only one defeat in a 9 fight record, losing narrowly on points at short notice to Steve Williams for the British Masters light welterweight title.

After a scrappy opener which saw both fighters struggle to find their range, it was Goodings who began to land more in the second. Although it was still fairly close, it looked like the Sunderland man was getting on top, although it was clear that Mills was not going to be easily discouraged.

The same continued in the third round with Goodings looking like he was trying too hard to impress, rather than letting his boxing flow. As they entered the fourth, Goodings was having more success and he visibly grew in belief as he cut Mills’ right eye. For the first time, Mills was beginning to unravel.

Goodings stepped things up in the 5th, sensing that his man was there for the taking. After pressing his man well, Goodings landed with a solid left hook-cum uppercut and had Mills on the canvas. Mills did well to get up and still had a go but there was going to be no denying Goodings as he continued to pressure and stop his brave opponent, much to the delight of the local fans.

In the end, it was possibly the best local show we have had in recent years and promoter Jeffries was more than happy with things. After the show, Jeffries told me: “That is what you are going to see from my future shows. If any local boxers want to be on my shows, they are going to have to be prepared for 50-50 fights. You cannot fool north east fight fans and I would never want to fool them. They come out in great numbers to support their fighters and they deserve shows like this, every time."

Those words from Jeffries are encouraging as the sport continues to go from strength to strength in the region.




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