Former IBF light-heavyweight challenger Callum Johnson returned to the ring after more than two years out and stopped Emil Markic, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the second round of an absolute tear-up at York Hall, in East London.
Johnson marked himself as a world level performer by dropping Artur Beterbiev in their 2018 world title fight before being stopped himself, but this was his first fight since re-signing with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, where he started his career, having found big fights tough to get at Matchroom.
He didn’t waste time and it was certainly exciting.
Johnson went for broke from the opening bell, hammering Markic with clubbing hooks to head and body and leaving the Bosnian with a rapid swelling under his left eye. But Markic then landed a huge right hook off the ropes, which all but dropped Johnson. Somehow he stayed on his feet and was soon back on the attack, finishing the round completely on top.
Johnson took his time at the start of the second round, but after backing Markic into the ropes. But once there, Johnson went all out for the stoppage, banging in hooks to head and bidy around the side of Markic’s guard until he slumped into the ropes and was rescued by referee Steve Gray. The time was 2:37.
“I was a little bit eager, but I wanted to get him out of there and I did,” Johnson said. “I’m just so pleased to be back and I am looking forward to watch the future brings with Frank.
"I'd jump in with Joe Smith [the WBO champion] next week, because I am after the world title fight. But I'd like to be out again as soon as possible."
The WBA designated the fight for their “global” title.
Heavyweight hope David Adeleye needed a bit of a gift from referee Marcus McDonnell to preserve his unbeaten record as he was handed a narrow six-round points win over Kamil Sokolowski.
The Londoner had blown away his first five opponents, but Sokolowski, a Polish boxer who is based in the UK, proved a serious step up. Adeleye kept trying to land his big right hand on Sokolowski, but the Pole was too clever for that and walked Adeleye down, outworking him in the main.
For the first five rounds, Adeleye barely had any success at all. He did better in the fourth round as he began to use his jab, which he had sadly neglected, but it wasn’t until the final 30 seconds of the sixth round that he finally landed a big right that staggered Sokolowski. Still, McDonnell gave Adeleye the nod by 58-57.
“I’m not happy but it is valuable rounds,” Adeleye said. “I think I am one of the best in the country, so I should be disappointed with that.”
Henry Turner won every round on referee Michael Alexander’s card as he claimed a 60-54 decision over Clayton Bricknell at super-lightweight. Turner, who was winning his fifth professional fight, has a lot of talent but a long way to go. He lacks any great power at the moment, but at just 20, he has time to develop that side of his game.
He is a southpaw with a lot of good moves, though, and while Bricknell kept him on his toes, he never threatened to cause him too many problems.
George Davey extended his unbeaten record to four fights as he claimed decision over Jamie Stewart at super-welterweight.
Davey always had the edge, boxing well behind the jab and picking his shots well. Stewart’s best moment came late in the fifth round, when he landed a good left hook as Davey tried to duck low.
Referee Marcus McDonnell scored it 59-56.
Karol Itauma made short work of Ryan Hibbert, knocking him down three times for a stoppage in the first of what was supposed to be a four-round light heavyweight fight.
Hibbert was down in the first 25 seconds with a short left hook and it was left hooks that dropped him twice more, the final time Itauma following it up with a shot on the floor. Hibbert beat the count each time before referee Michael Alexander waved it off at 1:58 of the first round.
There was also an early finish for unbeaten welterweight Owen Cooper, who knocked out Daryl Pearce in the first round.
Liverpool middleweight James Heneghan also extended his unbeaten record with a four-rounds points win over Dwain Grant.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.