By Terence Dooley
Blackpool’s Brian Rose (153lbs) moved to 22-1-1 (6) and won the British light-middleweight belt outright courtesy of a hard-fought win over former titlist Sam Webb (152¼lbs) at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens last Friday night. Rose, 27, won by scores of 116-112 (twice) and 116-113, but he took some big shots in a frenzied final round as Webb, 31, tried to wrest back his former title.
Now the proud owner of a Lonsdale belt, Rose is eying the EBU title held by Sergey Rabchenko, 22-0 (16), as he looks to build on a strong 2012. “I knew I’d won it,” said Rose when speaking to BoxingScene about spinning a win over Webb.
“As a champion, you have to have the title ripped from you, and he didn’t do that. I didn’t feel at my best, which is to take nothing away from Sam, and that wasn’t the Brian Rose you saw against Prince Arron [when Rose won the belt last December].”
Rose co-promoted the show, he had to run around making sure that the undercard fighters sold their tickets and, in a one-time deal, found out for himself just how much effort Steve Wood, the head of VIP Promotions, who co-helmed the show, has to put into a boxing promotion.
“There was pressure on me to make a wage,” he said. “If no one sold tickets on this show then I wouldn’t get paid, so you’ve got to make sure that the lads sell tickets. It is hard, I’m a boxer, I don’t want to go around telling people to sell a few more tickets — I’d usually leave that to [his manager] Steve Wood. This will never happen again. I’m going to sign with a promoter soon, definitely.”
Rose’s jab helped him take control of large portions of the fight, although Webb, now 18-3 (5), hurried and harried his way into the contest late on and almost caused a scare when putting in a massive push in the final round to leave a few lingering doubts over the outcome.
BoxingScene had it for Rose by 116-112; one member of the ringside press scored it for Webb. It looked a close but clear win from most angles, and Webb himself admitted that he had Rose three rounds up, hence the big push in the final stanza.
“Sam had me up by three, so did his trainer [Alan Smith], so it was a fair decision,” recalled Rose. “I went out in the last round and rushed it, got caught with some silly shots and a few in a row. Sam’s quite small, so I had worked on the uppercut myself. I think I hurt him a few times when I did hit him flush, but he might not have been hurt, so I don’t want to sound too disrespectful.
“Rabchenko’s called me out, so we can have that fight next and I think I’ve got the technique to beat him — I am a seasoned pro now. I’ll leave all that stuff to my management — I’ve never picked my own fights, and will put my trust in them. Steve’s my manager, but I want to sign with a promoter and carry on fighting on TV.”
Loaded TV covered the show, and did a good job, Rose, though, holds a prestigious title and is on the up, his fight with Webb was the type of British title contest Sky used to show before handing all their boxing content to Matchroom and placing too much emphasis on the moribund and utterly tedious Prizefighter format, which couldn’t even be lifted by a stellar line up in October’s Prizefighter: The Lightweights.
“I’d like thank Loaded TV for putting me on tonight, this might be the way forward, so I hope they liked it,” stated Rose. “My support’s going from strength-to-strength here in Blackpool. The support of Blackpool football club helps a lot, they support me from the fans, players to the manager, so I think that’s a big help.”
Webb retired immediately after the contest, the build-up had seen both boxers exchange barbs here on BoxingScene, but Rose revealed that they shook on it after the fight and wished Webb well in his future life. However, Webb is still young, he is a former champion and was a top amateur — he may decide to give another go in 2013. For Rose, though, this is the end of their rivalry.
“I said: ‘Whatever happens here, Sam, we’re still friends’, because everyone knows that we’re both nice lads,” he said. “Sam wanted this fight, he was a bit frustrated and bad-mouthed me (before the fight), but we’re friends again. Everyone could see how prepared he was, we knew he’d leave no stone unturned and I knew I couldn’t take my foot off the gas.”
Bobby Rimmer has trained Rose since the beginning. The Denton-based trainer has recently taken complete charge of Betta Bodies, which was started by Kerry Kayes, and now owns The Phoenix boxing gym, once the stomping ground of Ricky Hatton and Billy Graham, the former fighter believes his fighter had to dig in deep to register the W.
“It didn’t feel as right as usual in there at times, but he’s doing so much more — promoting the show and doing tickets — so Brian wasn’t his normal self tonight,” said Rimmer. “Brian was under added pressure because he wanted to win that belt so much. We’ve had four British title fights in just over a year, that’s four hard training camps, so he’ll have a bit of a rest and get out again after Christmas.
“I am very proud of Brian, you have to be because he won the Lonsdale belt outright and that was the best Sam Webb we’ve ever seen. It was a great performance from Sam and what a first fight for Loaded TV. You don’t expect Brian to win every round, he’ll lose some and you expect that in this type of fight, but I had him three rounds up.
“Brian went out to fight in that round last round, he’s a boxer, but I told him to win that round and he stood his ground. People don’t understand how tough he is, he took some big shots, but he shrugged them off. There were times when he was hitting Sam at will, he didn’t step on it as he should do, but you can understand that.”
Please send news and views to firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @Terryboxing.