By John Hargate
York Hall, London - Forty-year-old former WBC Super-middleweight Champion Robin Reid celebrated his half-century of fights in style as he pole-axed Daniel Cadman with a trademark right hand in the fifth of a scheduled eight. Reid, who weighed in at 12st 2lbs 4oz, looked as trim as ever and showed glimpses of the class that took him to the WBC Super-middleweight title in 1996.
Thirty-one year-old Cadman, now 14-7-1 (4), tried to make the fight scrappy and rough Reid up. Other than a particularly spiteful moment when Cadman locked and twisted Reid's arm while in a clinch, the pattern of the fight seemed to suit Reid as he was able to hold on the inside, have a breather, and then try to time Cadman rushing in with his big right hand. Eventually the tactic paid off and Reid scrambled Cadman with a monstrous right hook that slammed Cadman to the deck.
The plucky Essex boy beat the count but looked like he was trying to do the riverdance on the deck of a ship at sea in a gale force 10 wind, so unsteady was he on his legs. Referee Jeff Hinds did the only sane thing he could do and rescued Cadman from further punishment at 1:20 of the fifth.
Reid was philosophical about the rough stuff from Cadman when I spoke to him after the fight. “At the end of the day, I don't blame him because if I was in their position I'd probably do [the same]. He was trying to rough me up and he was doing things like I used to do - I still do - like grabbing and trying to snap the elbow on the inside. I said to him ‘Oi, what do you think you're doing?’ but the thing is that I'm experienced. You don’t become WBC champion and IBO champion and WBF champion for nothing. I've had some big fights, [Joe] Calzaghe, Henry Wharton, all the WBC defences, Brian Magee for the IBO. Some good hard fights and I've always kept myself in shape.”
Reid acknowledged that all the holding had made the fight untidy. “[Cadman] was making it into a scrappy fight. At the end of the day, you have to remember I’m forty, so I don’t want anymore wear and tear. So I have to use my brain in there. If that’s what he wants to do, and he wants to hold on the inside, I’m happy with that. As soon as the referee says ‘break’, I’ll catch him with two jabs and tee him up for a right hand. Which is what he walked onto. So if he wants to hold me on the inside, try and snap me arm - let him do that, cos all he’s doing is wasting the time he should be working away.”
I asked Robin what kept him going at the age of forty. A love of the sport or for the money? Or both? “I still love it,” Robin said earnestly, “but a bit of everything to be honest. At the end of the day, when I was three-time world champion, some of those big fights I’ve been involved in, I never made the money that I should have made. I shouldn’t have to do this. I do this by choice, but money-wise, I shouldn’t have to do this. I’m a former WBC champion. Just been badly managed. I can’t say who by because I don’t want to be getting sued for the little money that I’ve got! Joe Calzaghe, big, big fight - that should have been half a million/million pound payday - but it wasn’t. We were lucky to get into double figures mate. Lucky to just scrape double figures for that and that’s sad. That was such a big fight. And then the re-match never came.”
Robin paused for a moment, thinking it over. “I still have to fight on. I ain’t ashamed of it - I have to fight on because I’ve not been paid what I should have been paid when I was a Champion.”
I asked how much ambition was left in terms of winning titles? “I got offered to fight for the British title (against George Groves in December). I got a phonemcall but the fight was at three weeks notice. I know how it works, they’re thinking ‘Robin Reid, still a big name, he’s forty now, and he’s cracking on. He’ll give George a good fight for a couple of rounds or whatever, it’s a good scalp to have.’ I said, I’ll take the fight, but not at three weeks notice. At the end of the day, if I’m going to take these fights, I’m going to take them to win. I ain’t there to take part, just to be a scalp on somebody’s record.”
“[Groves’ camp] said to me, ‘Well we’re bear you in mind for the British.’ I said ‘You give me plenty of notice and I’ll take that fight at the drop of a hat. Three weeks ain’t no good for a forty year old. If you want a proper fight and not a pushover, give me six weeks notice and happy days.’ The good news is that they’re talking about me in the mix for the British title so never write me off.”
As long as that big right hand is still part of Reid’s arsenal he has a puncher’s chance in any fight, but it’s terribly sad that for financial reasons Reid has to fight on at the age of forty. He moves his excellent record to 43-7-1 (29).
Twenty-three year-old Tony Sims trained Ryan ‘Crash Bang’ Taylor looked sensational in stopping durable Robin Deakin in the third of their scheduled four-rounder in the light-welterweight division.
Taylor, who weighed in at 10st 2lbs 5oz, started brightly with a stiff jab, picked his shots well against crafty Deakin and managed to drop ‘Rockin Robin’ with a sweet left hook moments before the bell rang to end the first.
Taylor’s inexperience showed when he steamed in to try and finish things at the start of the second. Deakin caught Taylor rushing in with a short, straight right hand that sat the Upminster man on his backside. Taylor jumped up, more embarrassed than hurt, and dominated the rest of the round so thoroughly that I could only give it 10-9 to Deakin. Taylor’s body work was precise and the left hook to the liver noticeably pained Deakin on more than one occasion.
In the third, one of those lefts crumpled Deakin to the deck and left him gulping for air. Taylor attacked in a more measured fashion this time around, dropping Deakin again with another body shot and finally finished the job with accurate headshots while Deakin was pinned on the ropes. Referee Robert Williams correctly waved the bout off at 2.38 of the third. Deakin drops to 1-44 with only the 9 stoppage defeats, while Taylor progresses to 3-0-1 (1).
“I saw the openings for the shots, I took them and he was going down from them so I carried on doing it!” beamed a delighted Taylor post-fight. “I then went in for the kill and he caught me with a counter left hook.” Taylor said it hadn’t hurt him. “I got up and carried on, and I went for it and stopped him.”
“That’s my fourth fight and I’m hoping to now move onto six-rounders. Four-rounders I’m finding a little bit difficult because [the opponent] can come out and give it their best and they can make it tight. I like to settle into my fights, I think I’m better for the longer duration.”
Islington’s John ‘The Gorilla’ Ryder took his time to work out Marius Biskupski, a last minute sub, in their middleweight 8-rounder. Twenty-three year-old Ryder, a southpaw, showed a tight defence and a cautious jab as he held off the limited Pole in the early going.
As Ryder’s large crowd of supporters began to chant ‘Johnny’s Gonna Get Ya’ in the second, Ryder pressed forward and began to get through with short 45 degree left hooks on the inside. Just as it looked like Ryder was beginning to crowd his own work by not taking a step back to free up his long arms, he popped an innocuous looking left to Biskupski’s liver that sent the Pole down to one knee.
Biskupski rose patting his kidneys and lower back tenderly and looked reluctant to continue. Referee Robert Williams let the men fight on and moments later Ryder beat a tired looking Biskupski right hand with an evil looking right hook of his own to the Pole’s jaw that slapped Biskupski to the canvas. Again the Pole made it to his feat but referee Williams rightly waved the action off at 2.21 of the second.
Ryder explained his cautious opening to me post-fight. “I only found out I was fighting [Biskupski] on Thursday, there have been three opponents in the last three weeks. I knew he had a lot of experience, I knew it was eight rounds so I was pacing myself. I thought ‘let me get the first round out of the way and we’ll see where we’re going,’ but I hit him a couple of times in the first and felt he was [vulnerable].
I asked John what he made of the first knockdown. “I didn’t think I hit him too hard but I guess it was just the right place at the wrong time.” And the finisher? “I love the right hook. Pleased with it.”
Ryder’s fans had begun chanting “Are you watching Billy Joe” in reference to Beijing Olympian and fellow middleweight prospect Billy Joe Saunders. A war of words had sprung up about the two prospects between Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren and Ryder’s, Eddie Hearn, on Twitter over the preceding weeks. Would they be sharing a ring anytime soon? (The fighters that is, as enticing as the other match-up might be).
“It’s not something I think will happen at the moment,” John admitted. “It’s a long time off that fight. I think the fight with Billy Joe needs to develop. He called me out three weeks ago but I don’t think you should take a fight on three weeks [notice]. Groves and DeGale had their feud for years, didn’t they? Let it build.”
If Billy Joe wasn’t next, what would be? “I should be looking at a title soon I think,” John told me. “Southern Area or something.” I said that a good fight and measuring stick might be one against former Southern Area champ Gary Boulden, who took Saunders the 10 round distance in November of last year. “I’ve sparred with Gary - some good spars - so you never know,” replied Ryder cautiously.
‘The Gorilla’ progresses to 9-0 (6) with the stoppage.