By Alexey Sukachev
Zolani Tete of South Africa has been an underachiever for a long time till a recent road KO over ex-IBF champion Juan Carlos Sanchez and a decision win over Japanese Teiru Kinoshita, the latter bringing him a vacant IBF super flyweight title after two bitter losses in IBF eliminators and IBF flyweight championship.
Paul Butler, on the other hand, was an overachiever, luckily getting and decisioning IBF bantamweight champion Stuey Hall on a split nod. Those two collided at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, UK, and more experienced Tete came out as a winner with a devastating kayo in round eight.
Meanwhile, Butler, who has relinquished his red regalia and ventured back to a lower weight class, was a pre-fight favorite against the South African. Many thought he would utilize his boxing skills to beat Tete to the punch but the fight turned to be quite the opposite.
Butler, shorter of the two, was forced to fight through a jab of a much taller boxer with a much bigger wingspan. Making it worse was the South African's southpaw stance. And if it hadn't been enough, Tete was moving like a superfluid helium, making it unrealistic for the 26-year old Brit to land anything of note.
After a cautious first round, Tete got to work. His right jab was annoying and he was able to make a couple of steps back each time Butler started a no-so-sudden attack. Even if being allowed to close quarters, the British boxer was immediately clinched and held. Referee Phil Edwards issued a couple of warnings for the South African but had not reasons for point deductions.
Butler did his best to tag the South African but aside of the fifth stanza as well as some rare moments later his failed to achieve this goal. Tete, also 26, was not vaery active but his precision was world-class. He got specifically dangerous after the midst of the fight, throwing more and more power shots.
Still the end came as a surprize. Midst into the eighth, Tete threw a wicked left uppercut that caught Butler flush on his chin. Down he went, and even though he beat the count, referee Phil Edwards waved a fight off based on Butler's immediate condition.
With the win, TBRB #3 super flyweight Tete moves up to 20-3, with 17 KOs and the first defense of his title. IBF #9 and WBO #11 Butler suffers his first career loss and is down to 17-1, with 8 KOs.
WBA #5 British veteran Derry Matthews (37-9-2, 20 KOs), an active player in the lightweight division, tuned up before the biggest fight of his career, stopping usually durable Hungarian Gyorgy Mizsei Jr. (21-14, 12 KOs) at 1:02 of the fifth round.
Mizsei Jr., a two-time EBU title challenger (held by Emiliano Marsili - the same fighter who stopped Mattews in seven rounds three years ago) with a decision over Brunet Zamora, wasn't a pushover but Matthews was a man on a mission. He stalked Mizsei all fight long, landing cleaner and harder blows, until a right hand of him penetrated
Mizsei's defense and send him down in the fifth.
Next for Matthews is a fight against WBA lightweight champion Richar Abril (19-3-1, 8 KOs), set for April 18 at the very same venue.
There is a reason why people say "defend yourself at all times." The proverbial wisdom was proven again as 21-year old Jack Catterall (11-0, 7 KOs) forced his Argentinean opponent Cesar David Inalef (18-5-1, 5 KOs) to turn his back on Jack midst into the fifth and looked helpless enough for referee Steve Gray to put an end to it at 1:03. Catterall is a new WBO I/C 140lb titlist.
WBO #13 super lightweight Catterall put himself on the radar with an upset stoppage of famed British amateur Thomas Stalker the last year. Catterall, who had a breakthrough year in 2014, picked up at where he had left against Stalker, immediately backing Inalef. The Argentinean tried to counter Catterall but was visibly outpunched in the opener.
It got worse for Inalef in the second. He was hurt with a right hand at the end of the round, had his mouthpiece out, complaint and immediately was put on a knee with a right hand to the spleen section. Inalef continued to fight but looked lethargic and unwilling to do anything of note. Catterall methodically increased damage dealt and finally caught Inalef with a combo in the fifth forcing him to turn his back on the
In a grueling fight, local boy James "Jazza" Dickens acquired a vacant BBBofC British super bantamweight title, using finesse and supreme upper body movement to frustrate determined but limited challenger Josh Wale with a unanimous decision over twelve hard-fought rounds.
What has really bothered Wale, aside of fighting on his foe's home turf, was Jazza's stance - he is a natural lefty. To his honour, Wale, 26, did everything he could to stalk and press a smaller home fighter, who was boxing out of crouching stance with swinging shots from different angles. Wale had some success early on but then Dickens, 23, utilized his trademark defense to outbox the challenger in the mid rounds.
The fight was fought mostly at middle range and was quite dirty. Dickens was warned several times by referee Howard Foster, and was finally deducted a point in round ten for an illegal use of his shoulder. Determined Wale had a very successful round eleven, hurting Dickens several times with well-placed body shots, but the Liverpudlian came back and prevailed in the twelfth round.
Final scores were: 115-112 (Phil Edwards and Terry O'Connor) and 116-110 (Dave Parris) - for Dickens (now 19-1, 6 KOs). Wale drops down to 17-7-2, 10 KOs. Both combatants fought and lost via TKO's to Kid Galahad (in 2013 and 2012 respectively), one of the UK's finest.
IBF #5 and WBA #13 super welterweight Liam Smith (19-0-1, 9 KOs) looked strong in the eight-round drubbing of durable Pole Robert Talarek. Smith, 26, one of four fighting Smith brothers of Liverpool, didn't give his opponent that much of a chance for survival, throwing everything but a kitchen sink at him.
Talarek, 31, who has never been stopped before that, stood firm but entirely defensive. He was hurt with several uppercuts in the fourth and was almost doubled up by several well-laced body shots in the fifth. Smith continued to dominate the subsequent rounds, until one of his punches produced a nasty cut over Talarek's left eye. The referee stopped the fight soon thereafter on advice of the ringside physician. Time was 2:11 of the eighth. Talarek is now 10-9-2, with 5 KOs.