By James Harte
Leonard Bundu retained his welterweight European belt and solidified his strong position with the WBO in a blistering cauldron at the Wolverhampton Civic with a tenacious split decision over the previously undefeated Frankie Gavin.
Gavin, a world champion in the amateur ranks struggled to settle early on, and couldn't quite time the two fisted buzzing onslaughts that Bundu was enjoying mounting. Bundu does not box at all like the 39 year old that he is, full of energy and zest and was fully confident in every move he made, whether it be switching stances or firing away in aggressive bursts. It was strange seeing Frankie so out of sorts early on but he began to find his feet, stick his southpaw jab in Bundu's face and began planting his backhand into the pit of Bundu's stomach.
By the fifth Frankie was oozing confidence as that certain swagger returned to his boxing - slipping punches with his hands down low, using his feet to leave Bundu hitting thin air and the crowd were loving it. Bundu was actually having to think twice now before launching an attack. It continued into the sixth when completely against the run of play Bundu attacked with a bodyshot and Frankie sank to the floor ominously. It looked like he was going to stay there for the count, but he scraped himself up at the last moment and the crowd went delirious! Frankie managed to survive the round, but Bundu went at him like a dog with a bone in the next and was literally tearing away at Frankie's body.
Gavin, now sporting a horrible looking cut over his right eye was bouncing from rope to rope, trying to slip and slide his way out of danger but Bundu was never far behind him.
Gavin managed to get back behind his jab and onto his feet in the last few and tried to snatch a couple of the rounds, but it was nip or tuck between Gavin's slickness and Bundu's aggression. Frankie came out in the last with the bit between his teeth, and boxed sensationally on the move to have a gasping Bundu following him helplessly. Alas, it was too little too late and the judges sided with Bundu with two scores of 114-113 and 114-113 while one gave it to Gavin 112-115.
After a battle of unbeaten heavyweights, Lucas Brown is now the WBC Eurasia Pacific Boxing Council and Intercontinental WBA champion with a unanimous decision (116-112, 115-113 and 117-112) over Ukraine's Andriy Rudenko with a gritty and bloodstained performance. Hindered by cuts to both eyes which were allegedly down to cuts, Brown was looking sorry for himself as he plodded hopelessly after Rudenko who proved somewhat fleet footed coupled with fast hand movement as he bemused his Australian foe.
Rudenko was catching Browns leaky defence out with his quicker combinations and for me he snared the early rounds and managed to stay out of the way of trouble though was warned by referee Gareth Morris for use of the head as Brown began looking cut to ribbons.
In the second half of the fight though Rudenko's stamina seemed to sap and suddenly Brown was able to find homes for his bombs and though he would grin his way through them when they had landed, they were beginning to have an effect upon him. It heated up in the last as both vied for control but ultimately it was Brown who increased his record to 21(18)-0 while Rudenko is now a respectable 24(16)-1
Birmingham's flame haired prospect Joe Costello entered the ring to rapturous support and upped his record to 2(1)-0 with a 39-37 decision over Chesterfield's game Lee Connelly. Lightweight Costello was razor sharp from the off with his jabs and hooks and seems to have made a faultless transition into the pro ranks after being a top amateur (first English schoolboy to win a gold at the world championships) and his body attack reeked of viciousness. Connelly is nothing if not hard though and soaked the majority of it up without so much as a grimace and his ledger now reads 3-7-1.
Corby's two time ABA champion Simon Barclay is now 3-0 at cruiserweight after jabbing his way past the bag of tricks and jokes that is Ugandan by way of Northern Ireland Moses Motovu. Motovu was his usual self, wild swings while yelping, resting one arm on the rope, sticking out his tongue. Yet Barclay was impressive as he was indifferent to it all and bagged an easy nights win with a 40-36 verdict. Motovu is now 5-44-4
Redditch's Andy Robinson and Trowbridge's Dan Blackwell served up a cracking super-middleweight six-rounder with Robinson getting a deserved 59-56 decision. It was a brutal encounter with Robinson's left ear grotesquely swollen from the second round onwards, and Blackwell's face sweating blood through the latter rounds. Both didn't know how to take a backward step and were relentless in trying to punch the other man onto the retreat. Despite walking into right hand after right hand, Robinson was more economical with his work, and would string together a sequence of hooks and uppercuts whereas Blackwell was always looking for that one shot.
It looked on many occasions as though he might find it - but despite been steadied once or twice, Robinson was never in any serious danger. The main concern for the unbeaten man was his deformed ear which was practically hanging down the side of his face at times and began leaking blood in the last. It was a punishing encounter in an increasingly hot and cauldron-like venue, as Robinson stretches his unbeaten run to 12(3)-0 while Blackwell is a very deceptive 6(1)-36.
If there were questions if Tommy Langford (an honorary Brummie from Bideford, Devon) had a nasty side he displayed in an impressive second round stoppage against Brighton's Nicky Jenman. With the television cameras on him, middleweight Langford seemed in the mood to impress from the off and was letting go with fast aggressive combinations. For such a tall fighter, Langford likes to duck under his opponents attacks before responding with two-handed blitzes to head and body. A right hand made Jenman smile in the first, but it was briskly wiped off in the next as the red mist seemed to suddenly descend upon Langford's mood and he decided he wanted to get the Brighton man out of there. He stumbled after one attack causing Terry O'Connor's intervention after 2 minutes 51 seconds of the second round and Jenman was furious with the decision - it probably was a tad too early but it probably saved him from a painful night. Langford improves to 10(2)-0 while Jenman is now 8-8-1.
Light heavyweight Ricky Summers gave evidence to his touted skills with a fourth round stoppage over Middleton's Curtis Gargano. Boxing superbly behind his jab, Summers displayed just about every punch in the book as he prowled the ring after Gragano who only ever seemed to go backwards. Guilty sometimes of simply following instead of cutting off the ring, Summers showed a coolness as he would dip his aggressive heavy handed attacks to the body before coming up with uppercuts. His opponent showed spirit throughout, but there was a tied look about him in the third and with blood seeping from his nose his energy levels had sapped. After a volley of hooks and uppercuts forced him to his haunches in his own corner, referee Terry O'Connor counted him out after 2 mins 40 seconds of the round despite him making it to his feet at 9. Summers is now 6(2)-0 while Gragano is 0-3-1.
In a scrappy and forgettable four-rounder, Derbyshire's Craig Willshee moved to 3-0 with a 40-37 decision over Telford battler Kieron Gray. In a fight where every exchange was punctuated with a clinch, there were few highlights until the last when referee Gareth Morris had had enough and urged them to both clean it up. A spirited finish from Gray had the crowd cheering but there was little to cheer for apart from that. Most of the positive work did come from Willshee though who keeps his unblemished record in tact and probably learned a thing or two along the way. Gray drops to 6-32-1
Swansea's Jay Harris moved to 3-0 with a 40-36 verdict over Kent's winless Ricky Leech. Leech was last seen getting bombed out in a round by Gamal Yafai and it looked although the same might happen here when a spirited body attack from Harris had him pinned against the ropes for the majority of the opener and seemed to hurt him a couple of times. Harris calmed down as the fight wore on and began to get his boxing together, while Leech, now 0-2-1 would launch the odd wild swing with only mild success. Working behind his jab, Harris would bring his right hand round well before dipping back down to the body and was well worth his 40-36 verdict.