By Jake Donovan
Late bloomer Ovill McKenzie overcame a rough start to dig deep and snatch a split decision from Matty Askin in their 12-round regional title fight Friday evening at York Hall in Bethnal Green, England.
Scores were all over the place. Askin managed a 114-113 win on one card, but was overriled by scores of 115-111 and a far too wide 116-109 in favor of McKenzie, who has now won three straight.
Askin boxed sharp through the first four rounds, aided by McKenzie all but walking into his jabs and right hands with little regard for the defense. The tactic employed by the veteran spoiler seemed clear—a one-punch knockout if he could find it. The issue was that it wasn't there to be found, which put the transplanted Jamaican boxer in an early hole.
McKenzie's saving grace was in Askin being docked two points, the first of which came midway through te bout when the 35-year old began to mount a comeback.
Just as a knockout seemed like the only means of victory for McKenzie, a right hand managed to rock Askin in a bombs-away round 10. The sequence wasn't enough to cause any real concern of an early night or miracle finish, but lifted the crowd off of its collective bums as McKenzie hit the grind down the stretch.
A strong finish by McKenzie apparently wasn't required according to the scorecards, as he had the fight win heading into the 12th and final round. Nothing was left to chance, however. A right hand had Askin wobbly with one minute to go in the contest, but both fighters finished on their feet and deservedly to a raucous applause.
McKenzie has developed a reputation as a tough out for anyone at light heavyweight and cruiserweight, beginning with his pair of strong challenges versus Tony Bellew and upset stoppage win of Enzo Maccarinelli.
The late career surge now has his handlers thinking title shot. Whatever the case, McKenzie has now won three in a row as his record moves to (24-12, 12KOs).
A rematch could very well be next for both fighters, if their post-fight discussion is to be believed. Askin would certainly love the chance to level up the loss, as the 26-year old falls to 17-3 (10KOs).
It's been just over a year—almost to the day—since the last time Miles Shinkwin picked up a knockout victory. That drought ended on Friday, looking sensational in forcing Richard Horton to wilt inside of six rounds.
Shinkwin (10-0, 4KOs) was well in control for five rounds, dominating to the point of Horton (9-3, 1KO) nearly getting the hook from his corner prior to the start of the sixth round. Perhaps he'd have been better off; a brutal left hook to the body floored the 33-year old, with the referee reaching the count of 10 and waiving off the contest at 2:48 of round six.
Junior middleweight prospect Lloyd Ellett cruised to an eight-round decision over crafty Raimonde Sniedze. The bout was scored 78-75 in favor of Ellert (17-0, 4KOs), who was confident in victory to the point of picking up the aggression and searching for a knockout that never presented itself. The tactic didn't sit well with his corner, but was enough to remain unbeaten entering his 5th year in the pro ranks.
In an early candidate for 2015 Knockout of the Year, unbeaten junior lightweight Mitchell Smith flattened ubiquitous Croatian journeyman Antonio Horvatic inside of three rounds. A lethal left hook was enough to put Horvatic (6-15, 4KOs) down and out at 0:36 of round three. The 22-year old Smith (11-0, 5KOs) picks up his first knockout win in more than a year.
Gary Corcoran (11-0, 5KOs) edged out Adam Jones (4-8-4, 0KOs) over eight rounds in
the most competitive fight of the card to this point. The unbeaten junior middleweight had his hands full, but managed to prevail by a 78-76 nod on the lone scorecard.
Romeo Romaeo scored a 5th round stoppage of normally durable Michael Mooney (8-15-1, 3KOs). A right hand kicked off an unanswered flurry to force the stoppage as the 19-year old Romeao (7-0, 3KOs) continues to shine in the beginning stages of his career. The win was his third at York Hall, all coming within his past four fights.
Ryan Burnett (8-0, 6KOs) was extended the distance for just the second time in his young career, as he scored a six-round unanimous decision over French clubfighter Faycal Messaoudene (5-22-1, 0KOs). The referee was the lone judge of the contest, scoring the bout 60-54 in favor of Burnett.
All of the aformentioned bouts aired live on BoxNation in the U.K.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox