By Terence Dooley & Alexey Sukachev
LONDON —- In a shameful mismatch, which later will be called and "warm-up" or a "tune-up", former WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly blitzed hopeless Czech import Tomas Man (13-9-1, 8 KOs) in just 24 seconds. Man, 38, never threw a shot at Cleverly, ten years his junior, ate a couple of jabs, then was hit violently to the body several times until a left hook to the liver section dropped him down for a count. Cleverly (29-2, 15 KOs), fresh off his split decision loss to bitter rival Tony Bellew, is said to challenger reigning WBA "Regular" champion Juergen Braehmer later this year.
In a domestic shocker, middleweight underdog Nick Blackwell, while seemingly behind on points, issued a memorable multi-punch combination midst into the seventh to firstly rock, then wobble and, finally, stop bookmakers' favorite and WBO #3 John Ryder for a vacant BBBofC British 160lb belt. Time heard was 2:34 of the seventh round.
Ryder (now 20-2, 12 KOs), 26, was riding a five-fight winning streak in mostly international competition. Blackwell was coming of some wins of his own but mostly versus career journeymen. His best results were close losses to Billy Joe Saunders and European beltholder Maks Bursak as well as a draw against savvy Belarussian veteran Sergey Khomitskiy, who has recently stopped 16-0 Adam Etches. Ryder started confidently, using pressure and uncomfortable southpaw stance to trouble Blackwell, who suffered a nick at his right eye in the first. Both men were cut after three rounds but Ryder was in lead. Blackwell mounted a comeback in rounds four and five, while Ryder edged him in the sixth.
The end came as a total surprise. Blackwell rocked Ryder with a right hand, then iced Ryder immediately with a left-right combo and then punched his opponent to the corner until referee Howard John Foster jumped in for salvation. Blackwell is now 17-3-1, 7 KOs.
In a battle of two 25-year old undefeated contenders, more experienced and better matched in his past Scott Cardle of Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, got the better of Welshman Craig Evans over twelve heated rounds. As a reward, former BBBofC English lightweight titlist Cardle was crowned a new British champion.
Southpaw Evans of Newport, Wales, started better in the first, finding a room for his right hook, which rocked Cardle. The latter came back in the second, though it was close, and definitely in the third. The first half of the fight was primarily Cardle's, who played aggressor and stalked Evans all over the ring. Both combatants showed cockiness and machismo but Cardle had more to offer to back up his words.
Evans enjoyed a subtle comeback right after the mid-point, catching Cardle several times, but finally started to slow down, while his opponent gave his all in the championship rounds. Judges assessed his efforts in a right way, giving identical scores in his favour: 116-112. BoxingScene had it 115-113. Cardle is now 18-0, with 5 KOs, while Evans is going down to 14-1, 3 KOs.
John "Wayne" Hibbert (9st 13lbs) and Dave "Rocky" Ryan (9st 13lbs 3oz) kicked off Eddie Hearn's O2 bill with a hard-fought Commonwealth light-welterweight title fight that saw Ryan decked twice—in the third and fifth rounds respectively—and with it all to fight for going by the midway point.
Hibbert sustained a cut to his right-eye and his nose looked busted from the sixth onwards, but he bravely battled his way through to the later rounds. Ryan's eye began to swell as the fight wore on, both men showing the scars of battle.
Referee Victor Loughlin kept the action flowing with a minimum of fuss. Hibbert, 30, brought hundreds of fans with him, he is a local boy, and they cheered him on throughout. Ryan travelled down from Derby, the 32-year-old's title experience told as the rounds ticked on.
By the ninth, Hibbert's face was a bloody mask, he unravelled under pressure and was floored for the first time in the fight. Despite beating the count, he was floored for a second time, got up too quickly, and was stopped on his feet at 2:00 of the round under steady pressure from Ryan.
Hibbert falls to 15-3 (9); Ryan rises to 17-8 (4) and kept hold of his Commonwealth title.