By John Evans
Paul Butler needed to do something spectacular to create the headlines following another Ian John-Lewis officiating controversy at Liverpool’s Olympia last night and, by flooring John Donnelly with a devastating left hook to the body to claim the vacant British super flyweight belt with a first round knockout, the 23-year-old from Ellesmere Port did just that.
The fight may have lasted just 69 seconds but that was more than long enough for Butler (114 lbs( to fulfill the promise he has already shown in his brief but exciting nine fight career, 9-0 (4). Donnelly (114½lbs), came out aggressively, but that just gave his former sparring partner the opportunity to unleash his trademark body attack. The first meaningful hook that Butler got through with landed with a sickening thud. It bought matters to an early conclusion and sent ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’s’ fans wild. With the victory, Butler becomes Manchester based trainer Anthony Farnell’s first British champion.
“It’s the best feeling of my life,” Butler told Boxingscene as he clutched his new Lonsdale belt. “As soon as the referee reached seven and I saw him roll over on to his back I knew for a fact it was all over. Listening to the crowd, it was just the best feeling ever.
“I didn’t expect it to happen in the first round. He had a go, obviously he’d trained as hard as he’s ever trained but there’s nothing anybody can do if they get his with a body shot like that. It doesn’t matter if you’re Floyd Mayweather. If you get hit in the body you’re going down.
“He always used to pack up in sparring with a big head guard and big gloves and I knew after I threw a couple of jabs and left hooks to his head that his hands would come up. I just took it downstairs. I threw a right to the body first to bring his hands in and then that left hook to the body and that was the end of it.”
Thank God Butler producing something so exciting otherwise all talk would have centered around referee Ian John-Lewis’ ridiculous decision to stop the Commonwealth light heavyweight title fight between champion Ovill McKenzie (174lbs) and Enzo Macarinelli (173lbs) in the second round.
McKenzie pushed Macarinelli’s head back with one right hand, but the Welshman seemed to be comfortably parrying shots on the ropes when John-Lewis decided to jump in. There then followed a bizarre few seconds with John-Lewis slowly realizing he had made a mistake, Macarinelli refusing to accept the decision and the crowd looking on in stunned disbelief. Once he had stepped between the fighters, John-Lewis had no choice but to end the fight and declare McKenzie the victor.
Macarinelli has looked fragile in recent outings and the wisdom of putting him in with a big puncher like McKenzie had been questioned before the fight. Macarinelli’s trainer Gary Lockett had no doubts that John-Lewis’ mind was virtually made up before the first bell. “100%,” he said.
“Ian John-Lewis was walking around the hotel all afternoon telling people that he didn’t fancy this fight at all. We had a gameplan and knew that Ovill would run out of steam after four rounds. Enzo is a natural left hooker to the body and was throwing rights down the middle and finishing on the left to the body. Obviously, we had to get past four rounds first though. Enzo’s head got pushed back with one shot but then he was blocking well. It’s a disgrace.”
Lockett wasn’t the only person present using that particular word. Of course, none of this is McKenzie’s fault and he retains his Commonwealth title and moves to a deceiving 21-11 (2). Former WBO cruiserweight champion Macarinelli falls to 35-6 (27).
Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith comfortably outpointed a disappointing Gary McMillan in a British light middleweight title eliminator. Smith (154lbs) simply bullied the Scot (153lbs) out of the fight. McMillan attempted to use his southpaw style to frustrate Smith at range and, being unable to cope with the powerful Liverpudlian’s inside game, elected to tie him up in close.
Once referee Howard Foster deducted a point for excessive holding as early as the third round, McMillian seemed to run out of ideas and switch to survival mode. The 24-year-old Smith then had carte blanche to cleverly slip into range and work away inside.
Smith, now 12-0-1 (5), impressively wore his man down and ran away with the fight. McMillan drops to 13-4-1 (3). Scores were 98-92, 99-91 and 99-91.
Paul Smith, the older brother of Liam, eased back into action and forced Tommy Tolan (171lbs) to retire after four one sided rounds. Former British super middleweight champion Smith (175lbs) boxed as many rounds last night as he had in the previous 17 months and, despite scoring a knockdown with a beautiful left hook in the first round, understandably it took time for “Smigga” to find his range. Once he began to land cleanly in the fourth, Tolan was bloodied and sensibly retired. Now 30-years-old, Smith took his record to 32-3 (18) and will look forward to contesting his old British title with new champion Kenny Anderson.
Former Junior ABA champion Matty Fagan had a tough introduction to professional boxing as he was forced to work for every minute of a 40-37 debut decision victory over Francis Maina. Maybe he got carried a way by a large, vocal following but Fagan (141lbs) seemed over eager to impress and got tagged way more than he would have envisaged by the dangerous Londoner. Nonetheless, a win is a win and 24-year-old Fagan was happy to have started his career with a win.
“It was a tough one, I’ll tell you that now, but I showed heart, showed I can take a punch and showed I can dig deep,” Fagan told Boxingscene. “Maybe I got carried away by the crowd early. I won 40-37 so he drew the first round. I didn’t think he was up to much in the first round so I stepped out and ‘bam’ I got caught. After that, I tried to stick to my boxing.
“I loved it though. I love Arnie’s Gym too [Fagan trains alongside fellow Ellesmere Port resident Butler at Anthony Farnell’s Manchester gym]. There’s a good atmosphere and Arnie’s sound. He knows his stuff too. He picks up on the little things. I’m looking forward to my next one now. I’ll learn from what I did there and hopefully box a bit better next time.”
Lightweight Andy Colquhoun opened the night with a six round decision over Youssef Al Hamidi and moved to 4-0 (1).
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