By Alexey Sukachev
Wembley, London - In a bout which took place following the main event, heavyweight Dereck Chisora (16-4, 10KOs) made his return to the ring and stopped Hector Alfredo Avila (20-13-1, 13KOs) in the ninth round. Avila lost a point forr excessive holding in the sixth. It was tough to watch where Chisora appeared bored and carried Avila from round to round. Chisora finally let his hands go in the ninth, battering Avila in the corner with shots to the body and the referee finally stepped in to stop the match.
WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs) cleared the road to bigger, sounder fights and opponents (possibly unification match-ups with Bernard Hopkins or Beibut Shumenov later in 2013) with a dominated with a workmanlike unanimous decision over WBO mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi (39-3, 15 KOs). Scores were: 120-108 (Zoltan Enyedi of Hungary and Phil Edwards of the UK) and 119-109 (by Dennis Nelson of the States) - for the defending champion. Referee was Mark Nelson, also from the USA. BoxingScene had the fight 118-110 - for Nathan.
WBO #1 Krasniqi was 1-2 in January 2006 but then racked up a nice streak of 38 consecutive wins, slowly increasing his level of opposition and getting his last four wins by the way of knockout. Knockout was ironically his almost only chance for a win tonight. Krasniqi was slightly worse than his taller foe in every aspect - a bit smaller, a bit slower, a bit less powerfull, etc. All of this resulted in domination for the undefeated Welshman, although the German of Albanian origin managed to keep it close in the majority of the rounds.
Boxing on his way out didn't help Krasniqi's cause as well. He didn't look good fighting on the ropes, ate many jabs and was hurt repeatedly in rounds three and four. The midst of the fight was a slight revelation for the challenger and he has even got some success later on but it wasn't enough to trouble Cleverly. The Welshman, on the other hand, was active and used his trademark body punches to an extent. He was also effective with his left jab preventing Krasniqi from getting inside. All rounds were almost identical and not positively exciting. Yet, it was a good, dominant win for the Welshman.
Rising light heavyweight prospect Frank Buglioni (8-0, 6 KOs) knocked out his powerful but hapless opponent Darren McKenna (2-8-1, 2 KOs) at 1:36 of the third round with a crushing right-left combination.
Light middleweight Steve O'Meara (17-3, 5 KOs) got a very hard six-round decision over game veteran Chas Symmonds (17-7, 5 KOs) despite a point deducted from him in the sixth and last round foe consecutive low blows. The sole score was 58-56 - for O'Meara.
Rapidly developing British super flyweight champion Paul Butler (11-0, 6 KOs) added a multicoloured Commonwealth belt to his growing resume following a convincing stoppage of badly overmatched Nigerian Yaqub Kareem (10-3-1, 7 KOs) in the fifth rounds.
Butler was better in almost evey department from the get-go. Kareem was often off-balanced and struggled to land any significant punches, while Butler kept stalking him all night long. The Nigerian relied on one meaningful punch but without any jabs at all it was increasingly difficult for him to land anything of note. Butler, on the other hand, started to land his punches at will from the second stanza, hurt his foe repeteadly over the next rounds and kept Kareem on the receiving end of his punches in every minute of every round. The end came at 24 seconds of the fifth round, when the Brit hurt his foe with a big left hook to the liver and then punched him into the corner, where the referee John Keane stepped in to issue a merciful stoppage.
Super featherweight prospect Mitchell Smith (6-0, 3 KOs) got some easy work off of rapidly degrading veteran Gavin Reid (6-17-1, 3 KOs), destroying him in the very first round. Smith put Reid down with a very huge right hand to the chin late into the first and stopped him on his feet soon thereafter with about ten seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
WBO European champion Liam Walsh (14-0, 10 KOs) did what time struggled to do over years and years - he put a halt to Scott Harrison's improbable comeback by turning back his title challenge and defending his belt for the first time.
It was a difficult battle for the WBO #14 ranked lightweight as he ran into a much more experienced and still very willing opponent. Obviously rusty (even after two consecutive comeback fights) after seven years of the forced retirement, Harrison showed fascinating will and desire - a testimony of his famed character - to stay in a fight against quicker and arguably stronger opponent. Harrison had a good round one and cut Walsh, 26, over his right eye. Walsh came back to rock Harrison a bit in the second round.
Both combatants enjoyed mixed success in the next couple of stanzas, and Harrison had the upper hand in the fourth. However, as the bout went down the stretch, Harrison's reflexes and his stamina started to show signs of age and physical wear after years of a self-imposed psychological and partially physical abuse. He fought valiantly but Walsh was a bit quicker and his hooks got tighter to the Scott's chin than those of Harrison. In the ninth stanza both pugilists had long periods of heavy assaults but Walsh took the second half of it hurting Harrison with repeated head blows. The Scottish legend (a former two-time featherweight titlist) did his best to stop Walsh from moving fast with his bodypunching but it was Walsh who finished the fight stronger.
After ten rounds of action, Denny Nelson and Mark Nelson both had it 97-93 and the third judge scored it 98-92 - for Liam Walsh. Harrison, 35, is now 27-3-2, 15 KOs, but didn't confirm that it was his farewell fight after all.
Lightweight prospect Joey Taylor (2-0, 1 KO) didn't look particularly convincing this night, and it surely came as no surprize as he was fighting an ultra experienced journeyman Sid Razak (9-108, 3 KOs). However, Taylor showed both character, hand speed and a good right hand. The latter landed flush on Razak's chin in round four to send him down at the end of the stanza. The trialhorse got himself up and fought valiantly to the end to get a deserved loss with a sole score being 60-54 - for Taylor.
Former WBO cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli (36-6, 28KOs), now fighting as a light heavyweight, stopped Carl Wild (14-21) in six rounds.
Featherweight Joe Murray (13-0, 5KOs) won an eight round decsion over Dai Davies (9-21). The sole score was 78-76.
Junior middleweight John Thain (10-0, 1KOs) won a razor close eight round decision over Ryan Toms (11-5). The sole score was 77-76.
Junior welterweight Matty Fagan (2-0) won a four round decision over Kristian Laight (7-145-6).