By Miguel Assuncao
Copper Box Arena, London - John Wayne Hibbert (16-3-0, 10KOs) put friendship aside to stop close pal Tommy Martin (13-0-0, 5KOs) in the twelfth round to defend his Commonwealth and WBC international super lightweight titles in an early fight of the year candidate.
The pair admitted in the run up to their fight they’re friends away from the ring, but quickly but niceties aside with a frenetic opening that saw Martin, 21, come out firing sharp jabs before Hibbert responded with stinging one twos that forced the Cambridgeshire man to cover up.
It was clear to see both men were accustomed to each others’ game plans having sparred hundreds of rounds together, but it was Hibbert’s straight shots that were catching the eye in the early rounds.
The challenger was not deterred and was audibly encouraged by his corner to press his opponent in the sixth following a textbook left hook straight right combination and seem to stagger the champion in the sixth with a flush right hand.
Hibbert, 31, found the athleticism of his younger opponent hard to deal with and looked uncomfortable on the inside as he tried to slow Martin by working to the body, but did again find success with his trusted straight shots in the eighth.
A barnstorming final round saw both men land clean before the Essex fighter caught Martin with a series of unanswered shots which floored the 21-year-old, who then mistimed the count and forced the referee to wave the contest to a halt.
John Ryder (21-2-0, 12KOs) claims arguably the biggest win of his career with a hard fought points victory over Sergey Khomitsky (30-12-3, 13KOs) to claim the WBA international middleweight title.
Both fighters battled for control of centre ring from the off, with a series of untidy exchanges on the inside leading to a cut under the right eye of the Islington southpaw in the second round.
‘The Gorilla’ wasn’t discouraged from ploughing forward behind his trademark tight guard and lateral movement but seemed apprehensive of staying in the pocket for too long.
Khomitsky came into the fight having fearsomely become known as ‘Brit Basher’ having claimed upset wins over Frank Buglioni and Adam Etches, and the experienced 42-year-old showed no signs of being overawed on his return to the UK.
Ryder caught the fighter from Minsk, Belarus, with two well timed lead rights in eighth and again in the tenth, however, both boxers were unwilling to leave themselves open by throwing more than single shots.
As the bout moved into the championship rounds, Ryder forced the pace to land some telling blows which helped him to a 117-112, 115-112, 115-113 win on the scorecards.
Heath’s Ben Hall (7-0-1, 1KO) claims the Southern Area super welterweight title with a well earned sixth round stoppage over Kris Agyei-Dua (8-3-2, 3KOs).
After a cagey start, the bout came to life late in the first round when a clipping right from Hall seemed to temporarily stun Agyei-Dua with the bell robbing the unbeaten fighter the chance to capitalise.
Hall, 22, came into the fight with reputation for being the bigger puncher but it was his crisper hand speed that enabled him to get the better of the exchanges.
With referee Bob Williams content to let the fighters work on the inside Hall was able to unleash a number of energy sapping body shots in the fifth before pinning Agyei-Dua, 35, on the ropes and landing a barrage of shots that brought the fight to a premature end in the sixth.
Martin J. Ward (12-0-2, 6KOs) retains his WBC international super featherweight title after Italy’s Mario Pisanti’s (16-2-1, 5KOs) corner throw in the towel in round three.
‘Wardy’ from Brentwood, Essex, was fighting for the first time since beating Sergio Blanco on the undercard of Luke Campbell vs Tommy Coyle in August, and quickly imposed himself on proceedings flooring Pisanti in the first round.
Making good use of a considerable size advantage, the 24-year-old Tony Sims trained boxer sent the 36-year-old from Toscana to the canvas again with a short left hand in the second.
Ward had continued success skipping in and out of range and a number of clean shots in the third prompted the away corner to end the fight by withdrawing their boxer much to the disgust of Pisanti.
Ward was quick to set his sights on greater challenges this year.
‘I’m been injury free, camp went well and now I want to move onto bigger and better things in 2016,’ said Ward.
Both Gary Sykes and George Jupp could be future opponents according to Ward’s promoter Eddie Hearn.
Deion Jumah (7-0-0, 3KOs) beats Colin Farricker over six rounds (3-1-0, 1KO) in his first professional fight on British soil.
Jumah - a two time ABA champion - has won all his previous bouts in mainland Europe since turning pro with Team Sauerland, but looked at home taking control of centre ring and using impressive head movement to create openings.
The 26-year-old Adam Booth trained light heavyweight was quicker to the punch and punished the game Farricker whenever he was slow to return to the guard position following forays forward, but had to be mindful of the Liverpool man’s workrate.
Jumah drew blood in round five with a pinpoint right hand but didn’t stay in the pocket long enough to land any telling combinations winning out 59-56 on points.
Promising lightweight prospect Ohara Davies (9-0-0, 7KOs) wins by knockout for the fourth consecutive fight with a third round stoppage of Prince Ofotsu (15-5-0, 11KOs).
Davies - who grew up a stone’s throw from the Copper Box in Hackney - caught his Ghanaian opponent flush in the opening exchanges and followed it up dropping Ofotsu with a rangy combination later in the round.
Ofotsu has mixed with illustrious opposition including Richard Commey and Ricky Burns, but had no answer for the Londoner’s speed from a low guard, being given another count in the second before a series of thundering body shots made referee Ian John Lewis stop the contest in the third.
Super middleweight Craig Richards (2-0-0, 1KO) claims his first win in 2016 by beating the experienced Kieron Gray (8-48-2, 1KO) over four rounds.
Richards - nicknamed ‘Spider’ - began brightly using his rangy jab to keep Gray at bay but was unable to land any telling shots with his Telford based opponent showing glimpses of ambition.
The 25-year-old from Crystal Palace grew in confidence as the rounds went on landing a number of uppercuts as Gray powered forward, but couldn’t land flush and had to settle for a 40-36 points win.
Bermondsey’s Ted Cheeseman (2-0-0, 1KO) extends his unbeaten record with a fourth round stoppage of Gergo Vari (16-12-1, 3KOs).
The 20-year-old’s amateur pedigree was clear to see as he used vastly superior footwork to hit and move, leaving the Hungarian challenger unable to get close enough to let his hands go.
Welterweight Cheeseman varied his shots well from an orthodox stance working the body before trying to going upstairs with a short uppercuts, but was occasionally guilty of telegraphing his shots towards his stationary target.
As the rounds went on, Cheeseman began to favour left hooks to the body and the tactic eventually paid off as he dropped his opponent, before forcing the referee to intervene following a number of flush shots.
Popular Lucien Reid (3-0-0, 2KOs) wins the battle of unbeaten prospects against Hungary’s David Kovacs (2-0-0, 1KO) with a powerful first round stoppage.
The West Ham featherweight dropped his opponent in the first meaningful action of the fight with a crisp right hand and finished the job with a combination of stinging lead hooks and straight shots that left the referee no choice but to bring proceedings to a halt.
Welterweight Louis Adolphe (3-0-0, 1KO) beats William Warburton (17-88-7, 3KOs) 40-36 on points in the first of 14 scheduled fights at the Copper Box, London.
The 23-year-old from Wimbledon troubled his opponent with a sharp jab and piled in a number of body shots in the second round that left Warburton gasping for breath.
Warburton, from Lancashire, started the third with a low left hand and was quickly made to pay when he was staggered by a wide right hook, but covered up well to hear the final bell.