Heavyweight Fabio Wardley recorded the best win of his career as he knocked out double world-title challenger Eric Molina in the fifth round to extend his unbeaten record to 11 fights on the Whyte-Povetkin undercard in Gibraltar.
It was an odd performance by Wardley, 26, who had no amateur career, as he did little for the first four rounds but snapped into action after Molina had hurt him.
When Molina boxed Anthony Joshua for the IBF title in 2016, Wardley had only had four white-collar fights and the American certainly started with the ambition to upset the British boxer, throwing plenty of punches as Wardley did a lot of posing. Indeed, in the fourth round, it was Molina pressing the pace, landing a good body shot and a right that made Wardley look to hold.
Things suddenly ended in dramatic style in the fifth round. Molina caught Wardley with a big right that seemed to stagger him and send him back across the ring. The American chased after him and landed another left and a right, but rather than hold, Wardley came back swinging and caught Molina with a huge right and a left hook, which dropped Molina flat on his back where he was counted out by referee Mark Lyson. The time was 0:52 of the fifth round.
“If you want to go toe-to-toe – that’s what happens to you,” Wardley said. “I’m by no means the finished article, I’ve got a lot to learn.”
Ted Cheeseman regained the British super-welterweight title as he knocked out JJ Metcalf with a huge left hook at the end of the eleventh round of a grueling war.
Cheeseman – who regained the vacant title, which he had lost to Scott Fitzgerald via a disputed decision in 2018 – came close to winning the fight in the fourth round, before Metcalf, the son of Liverpool boxing legend Shea Neary, battled back in a brutal encounter.
“That is the best I have boxed as a pro and all I keep doing is getting better and better,” Cheeseman said. “I’m still only a young man, I’m 25, but I showed my man strength there. I boxed there, I fought there, I toughed it out, I bullied him. I beat Kieron Conway, I beat Scott Fitzgerald, I beat Sam Eggington and now I just beat Jamie Metcalf, I am No 1 on the British scene.”
Cheeseman made a nice start, keeping things at range and catching Metcalf with the jab as he tried to get close. The first significant moment in the fight came in the third, when Cheeseman landed with a big right uppercut and followed it up with a left hook. Metcalf came back with a left hook of his own, but Cheeseman looked a step ahead.
Midway through the fourth round, Metcalf fell short with the left jab and Cheeseman landed a big straight right over the top. Metcalf was backtracking and Cheeseman landed three more rights as he followed him across the ring.
Metcalf’s legs then seemed to betray him, as he tried to battle back off the ropes as Cheeseman teed off on him. He was caught by a series of clean punches, but managed to ride the initial storm. A left then saw him stagger back into a corner and the bell rang with Metcalf in desperate trouble.
By the start of the fifth round, Metcalf’s head seemed to have cleared and he had a good round, using the jab well and getting on top in the last minute as blood started to come from a cut over Cheeseman’s right eye.
The good work continued by Metcalf in the sixth and, midway through the seventh, he landed a right off the ropes that rocked Cheeseman and then followed it up, as Cheeseman looked to hold.
It was turning now into a grueling battle of strength, which seemed to be suiting Metcalf more, although Cheeseman had more success in the ninth as he landed a four-punch combination and backed him into his own corner for a prolonged period.
By now it was slow motion stuff, as the pair were punching each other to a standstill. Both landed good shots in the tenth, while Cheeseman seemed to be doing just about more in the eleventh, before Metcalf landed a huge right off the ropes that seemed to hurt Cheeseman.
Metcalf pursued him, but Cheeseman would not wilt and then came back with two big rights, which seemed to leave Metcalf unsteady. Two more rights landed around the ear before Cheeseman landed a crushing left hook just before the bell that knocked Metcalf flat on his back.
Somehow, Metcalf staggered back to his feet, but referee Ian John Lewis waved it off. The official time was 3:10 of round 11.