By Jake Donovan
It was a reversal of fortune in its severest form as John Simpson avenged a previous loss to Paul Appleby with an emphatic 6th round stoppage win Friday evening at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, Scotland.
The bout was in stark contrast to the close nature of their first fight back in June '08. A hard-luck fringe contender for most of his career, Simpson didn't leave anything to chance this time around, jumping on Appleby from the opening bell.
Momentum never swung back and forth as was the case four years ago. Whenever Appleby tried to seize control, Simpson would smother him with punches on the inside. A sign of things to come surfaced in round four. Appleby was enjoying his best moments of the fight following a promising showing in the third, but Simpson shut it down immediately, landing in combination and ending with perhaps his finest round of the fight to that point.
That's not to say that Appleby didn't have his moments. There was plenty to like about the contest, which was fought a ferociously fast pace. The lingering issue, however, was Appleby's inability to put rounds in the bank.
Battered and frustrated, Appleby sought any avenue to turn things around. The closest the 24-year old prospect came to shaking things up came in the sixth, when an accidental headbutt left Simpson with a cut just over his left eyelid.
All that came of the moment was an unleashing of the beast. Simpson overwhelmed his younger foe, twice dropping him hard in the sixth round. The second knockdown resulted in the fight being waved off upon impact.
The official time was 2:25 of round six.
Simpson once again proves to be the Loch Ness Monster to UK prospects in and around the super featherweight division. The win snaps a rough streak of having lost three of his last four, as he improves to 23-9 (10KO).
Appleby has now dropped three of his last five, as he falls to 18-4 (9KO). There was a working theory going in that the Edinburg product was never the same after catching a beating against Liam Walsh two fights ago.
Whatever the case, he was a far cry from the fighter who eked out a close win four years ago against Simpson, who gains sweet revenge. The first fight was a nip-and-tuck affair, with the difference on the scorecards coming down to a questionable knockdown in the 5th which appeared to be more of a slip on the part of Simpson.
The loss was typical of Simpson's overall pro run. A pair of losses to Stephen Smith in a seven-month span could have easily went the other way, though Simpson was able to still reap the benefits of being in the right place at the right time.
Smith was injured following their first fight, allowing Simpson to slide in for a Dec. '10 showdown against then-unbeaten Martin Lindsay. What followed was arguably the biggest win of Simpson's career, scoring a well-earned unanimous decision.
Friday's win over Appleby probably won't rate as high given his opponent's recent follies. But for a hard-luck contender like Simpson, the rematch wasn't as much about establishing a legacy as it was gaining the chance to savor the sweet taste of revenge.
In the final support bout of the evening, b oxing's bad boy Scott Harrison ended a 6 1/2 year absence from the ring with a 4th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Gyorgy Miszei Jr. in Friday's televised co-feature.
Harrison scored four knockdowns, including three body shot knockdowns in round two. The end came midway through the 4th, when Harrison once again floored Miszei. The referee once again issued a count, but this time opted to not allow the action to continue following the mandatory eight.
The official time was 1:30 of round four.
The win is Harrison's first since his days as a featherweight titlist, with his last defense coming in November 2005. A series of legal problems and bouts with alcoholism have kept him out of the ring and in jail but has vowed once and for all to turn his life around.
"it feels absolutely amazing," Harrison said, both of the reception he received from his hometown fans as well as scoring the knockout win in advancing his record to 26-2-2 (15KO). "I’ve been out of boxing for 6 ½ years. It’s good to look forward to the future, where I hope to capture a world title too."
Mizsei loses for the first time as a pro, falling to 7-1 (3KO).
John Thain (7-0, 1KO) kept his unbeaten record intact, this time in a hard-fought battle with scrappy journeyman Tony Randall (12-27-2, 4KO). Thain won a six-round points win, but was forced to work every minute of every round in earning the victory by score of 59-55.
Stephen Simmons (5-0, 2KO) remains unbeaten after breezing through a six-round 60-54 shutout over Jevgenisj Adnrejevs (6-47, 1KO).
Unbeaten super featherweight prospect Michael Roberts (8-0, 1KO) went through the motions in a four-round points win over late sub Craig Johnson (9-5, 0KO). The lone score from referee Victor Loughlin was 39-37 in favor of Roberts.
In the televised opener, Gary McMillan (15-3-1, 3KO) picked up his third straight win with a shutout over journeyman Kevin McCauley (10-38-3, 0KO) in their six-round welterweight bout. The lone score from the referee was 60-53 in favor of McMillan, who scored an early knockdown and coasted to victory.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox