By John Hargate
York Hall, Bethnal Green - A host of unbeaten Frank Warren prospects were in action in the York Hall last Friday on the Kevin Mitchell vs Felix Lora undercard.
Twenty-two year Eddie Hussein, son of popular former Commonwealth lightweight champion Mo, had his second pro fight against Barking’s Marc Callaghan. Eddie was the much larger man and bullied Callaghan back. The fight was a scrappy, untidy affair and Callaghan was cut on the forehead after the two fighter’s heads came together in the second. Hussein was more accurate with his short stabbing shots from either hand and did enough to win all four rounds on my card. Referee Bob Williams gave one round to Callaghan for a 39-37 card in Hussein’s favour.
“I’m feeling good,” said Eddie on his way back to the dressing room. “I’m settling down as a pro. I know he comes in a lot with his head and I was a bit wary of that, even though I was a bit clumsy myself today. I should have stuck to the game plan. I felt physically stronger than him and I think I done alright.”
Hussein, 2-0, again worked to the body well, continuing the tidy work downstairs that he displayed in his debut against Robin Deakin. I wondered whether the four round distance was too short for the dividends of a solid body attack to really pay off? “I think when I step up to six rounds; I’ll be more capable of catching them and hurting them and getting to them. With the four rounds, I ain’t got enough time I don’t think. The longer a fight goes, the better I’ll do.”
Another fighter from a fine boxing background was in action on the card. Twenty-one year-old Gary Corcoran, brother of former British super-featherweight champion Billy, looked impressive stopping Matt Seawright in the third of a scheduled four. Seawright was in full reverse almost from the opening bell and the aggressive Corcoran, who weighed in at 10st4lbs, slowed his man down with some marvelous bodywork before really gripping the canvas with his toes and driving hooks to body and head with both hands. Seawright eventually crumbled under the mounting pressure. Corcoran forced him to take a knee in the third and finally finished his man moments later as Seawright tucked up and tried desperately to survive.
Corcoran, now 2-0 (1), is a quiet man, preferring to do his talking with his fists in the ring but acknowledged the venom his shots carried. “Hurting him they were,” he smiled proudly. “Hurt him very much. I’m usually like that in the ring.” Gary turned to his trainer Mark Tibbs. “What do they call me in the gym?” he asked.
“We call him ‘The Gatwick Express’” Mark said to me smiling. “What I’m pleased with tonight is that he’s using the jab now. He’s got every shot in the book; he’s a hooker to the body. He reminds me of a young Ricky Hatton. He done everything I called in there. Good listener, very good listener and he’s getting better. Gary didn’t miss a lot which was good as Seawright had excellent head movement.”
There was silence for a moment. Steam rose from Gary in the cold concrete corridor outside the changing rooms. Mark told Gary not to get a chill, to go and have a hot shower. The young traveler turned to go, but paused and looked back to me with a glint in his eye. “I picked my shots well – very well,” he grinned. And with that he disappeared through the dressing room door.
Canning Town’s twenty-one year-old Billy Morgan met awkward, tricky southpaw Dan Naylor in his sixth fight. Unbeaten Morgan, who weighed 9st 11lbs 12oz, dominated the first four rounds on the front foot, letting his clean straight shots go to the head and body and appeared to trouble Naylor several times. Morgan chose to go on the retreat in the fifth with the intention of drawing Naylor onto a finisher, but instead handed the initiative to Naylor who pressed and harried Morgan through the final two. Morgan was cut in the sixth from what looked to be a punch, but later confirmed it had been from a clash of heads. Naylor did enough to win the final two on my card, losing 58-56, but referee Richie Davis saw it more clearly for Morgan and returned a 60-55 score in his favour.
After receiving four stitches in the gash over his eye, Morgan was phlegmatic about the fight and his performance. “He was tall, skinny and awkward,” he said. “I knew going in it was going to be a tough fight. First three or four rounds I had it all my own way. Hurt him badly the first round - and the second round. The last two rounds I was trying to counter him and let him come to me.”
What is tiredness that had led to a change of tactics? “I wasn’t tired,” Billy told me earnestly. “We were trying to let him come in. As he threw the double jab, bang him with the right hand and then the left hook. It didn’t come off. Earlier, when I caught him with the right hand on the ropes, he was gone. I knew I hurt him every time I hit him flush. So that was the plan - to let him come to me, catch him and hurt him with the right hand. I put too much emphasis on it and I let my boxing slip, but I’m 21. I’m learning.”
Billy, now 6-0, is yet to register a stoppage. I wondered whether that was playing on his mind? “He was tall and awkward. He’d only won one fight out of seven but he’s never been stopped. I think I was the first person to hurt him like that. A lot of people are questioning my power but I think you can see by the first four rounds that I have got power. I ain’t a concussive puncher but I’ll hurt them and I will finish them off.”
Also on the undercard, super-middleweight Frank ‘The Bug’ Buglioni looked to extend his record of two first round KOs in his first two fights in a six rounder against Ryan Clark, 2-50-4, but with only two of those losses coming by way of knockout. To say that Clark is durable is an understatement and a half. The man is practically indestructible and throughout the fight I kept thinking of Bruce Willis’ character David Dunn in the film ‘Unbreakable’. Buglioni is tall and lean and has the look of a throwback fighter and there are aspects of his style and build that are reminiscent of a young Richie Woodhall.
‘The Bug’ attacked Clark from the opening bell and ripped body shot after body shot into Clark’s deceivingly soft looking midsection. Clark sat on the ropes absorbing the barrage and would intermittently fire back with monster overhand rights of his own, several of which clipped Buglioni – although luckily for the prospect none landed with full force.
By the third trainer Mark Tibbs began to shout to Buglioni from the corner, telling him to box and jab. At the bell, Tibbs sat Buglioni down and read him the riot act, telling him not to do anything daft and to get back to his boxing and stop trying to bomb Clark out with every shot. Buglioni obeyed in the fourth and sealed a shutout win, but couldn’t get rid of Clark who appears to be made of an amalgamation of granite, tungsten and wurtzite boron nitride!
Buglioni’s body attack was accurate and concussive and would have stopped nearly any other fighter. He also punctuated proceedings with two particularly classy combinations. In the first, Buglioni sunk a hard, looping right hook to the body and followed it up with a right uppercut that lifted Clark’s head clean out of his peek-a-boo defence. In the second, a rapid double left uppercut by Buglioni really was a thing of beauty. He showed glimpses of world class and I have high hopes for him. There is a lot to work on, and he was too eager and sloppy with his defence, but showed excellent potential.
Buglioni was clearly unhappy with himself post-fight, a sign that bodes well for his future development. “The shots were there and the openings were there but he tucked up well,” he said. “He’s very tough. He definitely surprised me. I thought a couple of body shots were going to hurt him. In the third round I caught him on top of the head, on the temple and he wobbled, but I maybe jumped on him a little bit too much. Went a bit anaerobic but you learn from it.”
I said I thought this kind of fight was what Frank needed. Too many early blowouts can build complacency. “Definitely,” Frank replied. “It’s what I needed, something to just level me a little bit. I’ve come through it and I’ll get my head moving again and pick my shots a little bit more.”
I asked Frank what Mark Tibbs had said to him at the end of the third in the corner. “He was saying I never should have taken those shots, that I never took them in sparring, and that I need a little bit more control. That will come, and in the next fight you’ll see it. It was over-eagerness. Maybe I should have timed his right hand a little bit and come back with shots but it’s a learning process.”
Bradley ‘Super’ Skeet accepted the offer of an eight rounder with Hungarian Laszlo Komjathi, 43-38-2 (16), at only four days notice. Komjathi had previously been in with some of Europe’s best fighters and taken the likes of Andriy Kotelnik, Michael Jennings and Amir Khan to points, so was expected to be durable and hang around.
Twenty-four year-old Skeet, now 7-0 (2), used his superior reach to spear Komjathi with his long jab in the early going and a one-two combo repeated twice hurt the Hungarian in the third and made him touch down. If Bradley has a fault it is that he hasn’t learnt the art of finishing a hurt opponent yet, although fighters like Michael Frontin and Komjathi are masters of survival and Komjathi made it out of the round. Skeet peppered him from long range for the remainder of the fight, winning 80-71 on referee Richie Davis’ scorecard, which matched my own.
“I took the fight on Tuesday but I’ve been training for March 16th at Wembley [Arena] so I was fit and ready to go,” said Bradley. “I knew he was going to be tough and durable, so in the first couple of rounds I had a look. Then I put him over so I was ready to step up through the gears then but I caught him with a left uppercut and I felt a shooting pain through my left hand. After that, every time I threw my left hand out I had a shooting pain up it.”
Would the hand be ok in time for the Wembley bill? “Fingers crossed. I’ll go and get an x-ray but the doctor just looked at it then and said it wasn’t broke it was just badly swollen so I’ll rest it, I’ll ice it and then just see how it goes.”
“I know I’ve got to be more spiteful and follow up my shots more,” Bradley conceded honestly, “but like I say, I hurt my hand and next time out you’ll see the improvement.”
Also on the bill, Beijing Olympian Bradley Saunders made his professional debut stopping Jason Nesbitt in three rounds.