By Alexey Sukachev
Larry Ekundayo dazzled the local crowd at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, with a blistering mixture of boxing skills, smart footwork, stinging blows and athletism. He had fought just twice before and he added three more wins tonight to win the huge paycheck of 34,000 pounds (including a 2,000 knockout bonus) and the Prizefighter light middleweight Betfair title.
Ekundayo (5-0, 2 KOs) set a trap for his final opponent Terry Carruthers in the first two rounds. The Nigerian forced Carruthers in to counter him at the ropes and to twist him to the corner. An ultra aggressive Brit was throwing much punches but landed very few. In the third Ekundayo turned more and more brutal and active. He began to counter Carruthers with fierce and used lightning-fast combinations on his way out to rock the challenger. Soon thereafter, Carruthers went for the final knockout attempt, ate a huge right hand bomb and turned his back on the opponent near the ropes. Referee Victor Loughlin had seen enough and issued the only stoppage of this tournament at 2:36 of the third. Carruthers falls down to 13-14-6, with 1 KO, but has nothing to be ashamed of.
The now-historical final of the light middleweight Prizefighter series will feature two of the least expected participants of the current line-up - colliding for a chance to upset all of the possible odds. The second finalist Terry Carruthers (13-13-6, 1 KO) just evened his record and dealt the first career loss to favorite Navid Mansouri (9-1-1, 3 KOs) in a frenetic, all-action affair. Carruthers picked up right where he had left against Peter Vaughan. Mansouri was able to neglect his aggressiveness with his smart counterpunching in the first but came short in the next couple of rounds due to severe problems in his defensive line. Carruthers ate punishment but didn't stop throwing punches, which made for a grueling war in the rind. Rounds two and three were easily ROTY candidates (at least in Europe), and the heavily-tattoed journeyman at the end edged his undefeated opponent on a split nod: 29-28 (Victor Loughlin and Howard Foster) and 28-29 (John Keane) - for Terry Carruthers, who faces Larry Ekundayo in the final.
Larry Ekundayo (4-0, 1 KO), the least experienced contestant of this Prizefighter series, continued his amazing run and advanced right to the final after a relatively easy win over Scottish fighter Kris Carslaw (17-3, 4 KOs), a former British title challenger. Ekundayo, 30, a former Nigerian national amateur champion, invited his foe to the ropes, bobbed and weaved under the chaotic fire of Carslaw and countered him masterfully with his left hooks. He was faster and more consistent, going in and out, and landed more telling blows. Carslaw, on his part, was too limited and was unable to adjust to Ekundayo's tactics. At the end, all three judges had it for the Nigerian: 30-27 and 29-28 (twice).
The third split decision (out of four quarterfinal bouts) was announced. The unlucky loser was hard-hitting Curtis Valentine (5-3, 4 KOs), who was carefully hunting for one big shot against Navid Mansouri (9-0-1, 3 KOs) but didn't find any. The latter was boxing smoother but exchanged hard shots with Valentine as well. After three rounds, judges Phil Edwards and John Keane scored the bout for Mansouri - 29-28, and Victor Loughlin had the same score for Valentine. Next for Mansouri is Terry Carruthers, and Larry Ekundayo meets Kris Carlsaw in the second semifinal.
Terry Carruthers (12-13-6, 1 KO) continued the line of upsets in the third quarterfinal, getting a well-deserved victory over once-defeated prospect Peter Vaughan (6-2-1, 1 KO). The battle was furious from the opening bell. Carruthers immediately went right to Vaughan and engaged into a horrific war with him. Both fighters exchanged wild swings but Carruthers was more aggressive and more successful than his inexperienced rival in the first two rounds. Vaughan attempted to come back big in the last stanza and had mild success in doing so. It wasn't enough though, as two judges saw the fight for Carruthers: 29-28, while the third one scored a shutout for him as well: 30-27.
The second straight split and hotly contested decision was announced in the second quarterfinal of the Prizefighter series. And this time a Scottish warrior came out as a victor, as Kris Carslaw (17-2, 4 KOs) barely edged Ryan Toms (11-4-1, 6 KOs) over four in an even fight. Two judges - Johan Keane and Victor Loughlin had it 29-28 for the former boxer, while Howard John Foster awarded his vote with the same score to Toms. BoxingScene had it a draw: 29-29.
In a major upset, unheralded Nigerian junior middleweight Larry Ekundayo (3-0, 1 KO), whose overall oppponents' record in the first two professional fights was no better than 3-30, scored a shocking split nod over heavy favorite Craig McEwan (21-3, 10 KOs). Both fighters fought on even terms through three rounds, and the decisive factor was a cut over the left eye, suffered by the Scottsman in the first round. Phil Edwards and Richie Davis had it 29-28 - for the Nigerian, while Victor Loughlin scored it 29-28 - for McEwan. BoxingScene was in agreement with the first two judges. Larry Ekundayo is through to the semifinals of this Prizefighter series.
Tags: Craig McEwan , Larry Ekundayo