By Leonard Gunning
Whilst the majority of eyes in the British boxing scene were turned towards Stoke-on-Trent and the Hatton Promotions show featuring the European super-featherweight battle between hometown boy Scott Lawton and evergreen predator Leva Kirakosyan last weekend, the Hatton Team were also busy in a venue closer to home where they helped raise thousands of pounds for charity at a black tie boxing event featuring a three bout card with some of Britain’s up-and-coming prospects on show at Manchester’s Midland Hotel last Thursday night.
Ricky and his promotional team in association with The National Sporting Club and MBN Events staged an evening of boxing for sell out crowd of 25 exclusive tables comprising the great and the good of the local business community. The fighter turned impresario explained the motivation behind the show in what is a very busy time for his company.
“It’s not all about your big shows, or your shows on SKY Sports and it’s not all about making money and it’s not just about what you do inside the ropes but also what you do outside the ropes,” declared Hatton.
“If you can do a grass roots show with young lads, Manchester lads, local lads and raise some money for charity then good. I mean, professional boxing has always been seen as a money scheme, but in my eyes it is alright for making the money but you want to give a little bit back and do a little bit for charity.”
It certainly was curious scene in the salubrious surroundings of Manchester’s Grade II* listed Midland Hotel as a selection of the city’s finest bankers and solicitors mixed and mingled with the usual suspects of the north of England’s boxing scene.
While those in black tie and dinner jackets sunk theirs gnashers into a four course meal including prime fillets of beef, elsewhere within the period building was the incongruous sight of pug nosed, battle hardened, track suited men lounging in the hotels Italian marble foyer sipping tea as they soaked in the strains of piano jazz emanating from the baby grand piano.
Following the meal, Ricky, resplendent in mint green bow tie and cummerbund, regaled the assembled crowd with stories of the Kostya Tszyu fight, his pride at receiving an MBE and the shenanigans Burnage’s Gallagher brothers got up to when they accompanied the Hyde Hitman into the ring in Las Vegas.
The first bout began at 10pm and featured Dominic Ingle trained Derby fighter Jack Perry, now 10-0-1 and Sheffield debutant Dale Hutchinson in a six round welterweight contest.
From the first bell Perry produced the cleaner work but looked uneasy with the unorthodox pressure applied by the debutant who sought to draw Perry into a scrap. As the fight unfolded Jack established the jab and reddened the forehead of his foe.
Surprisingly, Hutchinson literally swung the fight back in his direction during the mid rounds as his crude aggression wide swinging punches disrupted Perry’s efforts as the prospect all but forgot about this jab.
The Sheffield fighter was visibly tiring in the fifth but his work rate didn’t suffer and Perry still seemed unable to stop Hutchinson, who by this time was growing in confidence as each round passed. I scored the bout 48-47 to Perry going into the final round which was the most exiting stanza of the fight. Both fighters turned in a valiant display in two minutes of to-and-fro action which I scored a draw to end the contest in Perry’s favour 58-57. The referee scored it by a wider margin, 59-56 to Perry, and the Ingle fighter will need to improve his work rate if he is to step up a level.
Next into the ring was Alex Dilmaghani, the unbeaten Sussex southpaw of Iranian extraction and Latvian journeyman Sergey Rozhakmens.
Dilmaghani told BoxingScene.com before the fight that he intended to steal the show and he certainly proved to be a man of his word. Alex swarmed all over Sergey before the Baltic fighter had a chance to throw a punch. Such was the pressure that the Brighton based fighter dished out in the first two rounds the skin of Rozhakmens back rarely left contact with the top rope of the ring.
Light-footed Dilmaghani dictated the pace throughout and displayed a range of quality shots, delivered with pace and accuracy to head and body, which would have troubled a significantly better fighter than of Rozhakmens.
Alex’s left hand penetrated the Lativan’s guard like a scythe through wheat and in truth the fight should have been called to a halt to at the end of the third round but the barrage was allowed to continue into the fourth round for another 1.15 before proceedings were brought a finish.
Dilmaghani will have learned little technically from this lob sided contest but the 19-year-old, who turned professional just days after his 18 birthday, will have gained valuable confidence from the clash.
The final bout of the night involved Hatton’s Hattersley protégé Kieran Maher, 3-0, and Bulgarian Danny Dontchev. The first two rounds were scrappy but a nervous Maher managed to work off his jab and flick in whipping left hooks and uppercuts, which gave the Manchester fighter both rounds on my card.
As Dontchev rushed out for the third round he clashed with Maher, cutting the younger fight over the left eye with his head. This cut appeared to unsettle home fighter but as Maher’s new trainer Bob Shannon worked on the cut through the next break Kieran quietly listened with intent to the pearls of and wisdom being dispensed. These words seemed to calm the fighter and galvanize the work of the Hatton fighter as he began to bully the Bulgarian with stiff punishing left jabs and accurate right hooks.
At the end of the fight judge Steve Gray scored the contest a shutout, 60-54 to Maher, which matched my own scorecard. Although the bout was unspectacular it showed that Maher is an adaptable fighter who can listen to advice and is maturing and growing as a boxer.
Dontchev acknowledged Maher’s ability proclaiming that. “This guy (Maher) is very good boxer, I think he is a little bigger than me, but he is very good fighter, a technical fighter but I didn’t fight to my full 100% possibility. I think the public were happy with the fight, I made some mistakes but every boxer makes mistakes.”
Hatton who at this stage was mingling freely with the crowd mirrored this praise. “I thought Kieran had a great performance, he hasn’t got much experience and he has gone in to a new coach and Bob Shannon is a great coach and I think some of these great coaches especially in America, they get all the best people come to them but what I think is a good coach is someone that you can bring a fighter to and bring him up through grass roots and who hasn’t much amateur pedigree and make a champion of them,” declared ‘The Hitman’.
“Bob Shannon has been in this game long time and he is a fantastic coach and is 100% for his fighters and Kieran has only been working for him for a matter of weeks and he had a tough opponent there, so its all experience, a guy crowding you, holding you, a wee cut over the eye. You know you got to learn these things as you go along and it was a good performance.”
Hatton vowed to carry on staging shows of a variety of sizes from the small dinner shows to less than 300 people to the showcase arena bout for tens of thousand. “We will still do the big shows and every now and again we will do a little local show like this for charity. Every boxer that steps through those ropes should be a star and they deserve their moment and it’s not just the big shows. It is great to get involved with MBN Promotions and the National Sporting Club,” Hatton enthused.