By Alexey Sukachev
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales - 2012 London Olympics super heavyweight gold medalist Anthony Joshua (4-0, 4KOs) continued to impress, scoring an easy stoppage of brave but limited Dorian Darch after 51 seconds in round two. Darch was trying to do something in the first while Joshua was mostly lethargic. However, as soon as Joshua kicked off an attack, Darch (7-3, 1 KO) was placed in trouble. He was hurt late into the first and wobbled again in the second before the referee stepped in to save him.
Can it be a better way to thrill and entertain the partisan crowd at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales, than to pit two of their most beloved sons against each other. That was exactly what has happened tonight, when former BBBofC British super featherweight champion Gary Buckland took on ex-WBA light welterweight champion Gavin Rees in a frenetic battle between two Welshmen for a right to fight for the BBBofC ligtweight title. Buckland prevailed with a very narrow split decision: 116-113 (John Keane), 115-114 (Terry O'Connor) and 113-116 (Ian John-Lewis) in a fight that could have gone either way. Referee was Mark Green.
Buckland, who was coming off a crushing defeat from Stephen Smith last August, was more aggressive in the first couple of rounds but it was Rees, which cut his left eye and was more successful with his counter bursts. Buckland, 27, continued to fight through no matter what and he got his die in rounds three and four, when Rees was taking major punishment both at the ropes and in the centre of the ring. In one of the moments (round four) Rees took a number of unanswered punches, looked hurt but pulled through. He was awarded for that in rounds five and six. He was digging dip into Buckland's body and got him to feel some pain.
The second half of the fight has turned into a war of attrition fought by the highest standards of old-school British prizefighting. Both boxers concentrated on the bodies of their respected opponents and did major damage to all side of their mid-sections. Head was a rare target but Rees' left eye started closing rapidly somewhere around rounds eight and nine. Both combatants produced fireworks in rounds nine and ten but Buckland looked to be a little bit more consistent. Rees came back big to win the last two rounds. BoxingScene had it 115-113 - fir Rees, while former lightweight champion Jim Watt on Sky Sports also scored it 116-114 - for Gavin Rees, who is now 37-4-1, 18 KOs, and has lost his last three (previously to Anthony Crolla and Adrien Broner). Buckland accomplishes a career-saving feat and is now 28-3, with 9 KOs.
In a great fight, last year's Prizefighter welterweight finalist Dale Evans edged former BBBofC British light middleweight title challenger Erick Ochieng (14-3, 4 KOs) in a very rough, fan-friendly eight-rounder. Ochieng started well but Evans took the control midst into the fight and was better in brutal exchanges from round three to six. Then Ochieng came back with big shots of his own, rocking and wobbling Evans in the seventh, when it looked like the Welshman was on the brink of a knockdown, if not a knockout. Evans has pulled through, and both boxers gave their all in the eighth and last round. Evans (8-1-1, 3 KOs) prevailed with a sole score being 77-76.
Chris Jenkins (13-0, 5KOs) scored a twelve round unanimous decision over Christpher Sebire (22-7, 8KOs) to capture the vacant WBC International junior welterweight title. The scores were one-sided for Jenkins, 100-90, 100-90, 100-91.
Former EBU champion Kerry Hope (20-6, 1KO) scored a six round decision over previously undefeated but also inexperienced Paul Mofett (3-1-1, 2KOs) in a super middleweight contest. Hope struggled in the fight, with Mofett giving him all he could handle. The referee issued a close sole score of 59-58 in favor of Hope.