THE British Lionhearts defeated the China Dragons 3-2 in their first match of the new season of the World Series of Boxing at York Hall on Thursday (January 15).
Highly touted middleweight Antony Fowler steamed into Di Zhou, hurting him early on. He thumped long straight shots into the Chinese 75kgs but Zhou hung tough, resisting the weight of those punches and managing to lob his right hand over Fowler’s jab, catching the Liverpudlian clearly at times. Antony hammered hooks into Zhou’s body but as they fought in close Di’s head swung in and clashed with Antony’s. A long cut opened on Fowler’s forehead, pouring blood down his chest on to his shorts. Though alarmed at the sudden end to the contest, Antony had clearly won the three (of five scheduled) rounds it lasted for all three judges and so Fowler took a technical decision.
Light-welterweight Sam Maxwell, Hackney-born, Liverpool raised, starred on the show. He was far too much for Touliaowutayi Sarike. The Dragons’ 64kgs couldn’t stave off Sam’s long shots. Cruelly accurate Sam tore straight punches through Sarike’s guard and hammered punches round as hooks. Sarike had to resort to his resilience to make it through the five rounds. Maxwell dominated and won unanimously.
Qais Ashfaq had a rough welcome to the World Series of Boxing in his first bout in this competition format. Jianhao Diao, a southpaw like Leeds’ Ashfaq, sent Qais skittering back with a heavy left hand. Diao proved a dangerous puncher, cracking the Briton with strong, heavy counters. Ashfaq found his rhythm more as the contest progressed, screwing in neat shots with his lead hand. He contained the Chinese boxer in clinches. While Diao’s power looked like it would carry him through, it was Qais who pocketed a split decision victory.
Chinese light-flyweight Junjun He looked a quality operator. Much the bigger man, He switched stances and attacked off his backfoot, catching Ashley Williams with flush uppercuts and spearing his cross through. The game Welshman battled forward but Junjun brought him on to shots and won a wide unanimous decision.
Two international selections boxed at 91kgs. Croatia’s Joseph-Bepo Filipe, representing the Dragons, defeated Ionut-Mirel Jitaru, a Romanian on the Lionhearts team, with a unanimous points decision.