BELFAST southpaw Anthony Cacace eased to a long awaited first defence of his British super-featherweight title on this Frank Warren promotion at Birmingham Arena, a wide unanimous victory coming his way at the conclusion of a bout during which he handed Leicester challenger Leon Woodstock something of a lesson.
Already up in the cards “Anto” did his cause no harm at all at the top of the fourth when he tagged Leon with a left that sent him to the canvas. While the advantage stayed with the champion for the next couple of rounds, Woodstock stuck doggedly at it, pressing forward and throwing, but not always connecting with his elusive opponent who, happy to pick the challenger off, was always quick to reply when anything fell short.
Leon cut an increasingly frustrated figure as the end loomed and whilst a big heart saw him through the outcome was never in any doubt. Judges John Latham and Ian John-Lewis had Cacace a 117-110 winner whilst Steve Gray tallied 117-111.
Marcus McDonnell was the man in the middle.
A clash for the vacant British super-flyweight title which doubled as a final eliminator for the Commonwealth title between old adversaries Quaise Khademi of London and local favourite Ijaz Ahmed might just have to go again with a split decision draw being the outcome at the conclusion of 12 hugely enjoyable rounds.
The pair’s first meeting at the Copper Box six months earlier had been close with “Jazzy” edging it over 10 and this return proved closer still. Fought at a roaring pace throughout the impetus swung first one way and then the other but never for long and the bearded warriors, having both given their all for the duration were fully deserving of the applause they were afforded. Back in the days when people used to carry cash the crowd would’ve thrown nobbins. It was that good. Judge John Latham scored 115-114 for Khademi (as did I) whilst Ian John-Lewis had it 115-113 for Ahmed and Marcus McDonnell had it 114-114. Steve Gray refereed.
Liverpudlian Sam Maxwell secured a unanimous decision to relieve Gloucester’s Akeem Ennis Brown of his British and Commonwealth super-lightweight titles. Maxwell produced the stronger finish, after having to survive a doctor’s inspection of a cut to the left eyelid in the ninth, to see him home at the conclusion of an awfully scrappy encounter.
Akeem, who was cut by the right eye when heads clashed in the fourth, had made the better start during which he scored with shots delivered from a distance and often from unconventional angles. But as the bout progressed he was tied up and forced back increasingly regularly by the challenger who was twice admonished for pushing his opponents head down.
Maxwell chose to quicken the pace after the lengthy inspection of the damaged to his eye and, while the spells of wrestling continued into the later rounds, he was seemingly in the ascendancy at the finish as Akeem tired. Had he done enough though to get the decision? The answer it turned out was yes. Judges Steve Gray and Marcus McDonnell scored 116-113 whilst John Latham had it slightly closer at 115-114 safe to say though this one won’t be winning any Fight of the Year nominations.
Ian John-Lewis was in charge.
Londoner Anthony Yarde was in no mood for hanging around in a scheduled 10-rounder and blasted out Massachusetts-based Colombian Alex Theran in just 152 seconds to secure a 20th inside the distance victory.
A left hook downstairs initially sent Theran to his knees and whereas the sensible thing might’ve been to remain there he instead hauled himself upright just in time to beat the count of John Latham. However, the end was nigh and no sooner was he up than he was down again, a right-left to the body sending him to all four. That was the end of that.
Helped onto a stool Theran received oxygen before being wheeled from ringside on a stretcher, sitting up and still holding the oxygen mask to his face.
Another slated for 10, involving hugely popular Stoke puncher Nathan Heaney, made it just past the half-way stage. Bulgarian Konstantin Alexandrov, who hadn’t really been troubled despite being second best from the outset, fell victim to a body shot in centre ring and made no attempt to regain his feet as Newark referee Kevin Parker waved it over at 1-36 of the fifth.
Alexandrov fell victim to a number of early body shots delivered by the taller Heaney, who some were saying had sold upwards of 1,600 tickets, and while there were a couple of right hooks delivered by way of reply these became less frequent as the rounds passed.
There were eight seconds of the second round remaining when referee Shaun Messer called time on the scheduled eight between Telford’s English bantamweight champ Liam Davies and Ghanaian Raymond Commey. After regularly finding himself on the recieving end of the taller man’s jab in the opener, Commey was then robbed of his senses in the next by a pair of heavy rights before a left and one more right hook dropped him in a neutral corner. He was up in time to beat the count but the Dudley official had seen enough.
Atherstone’s George Bance proved relentless en-route to a shut-out four round victory over Brierley Hill journeyman MJ Hall.
At one point in the opener, the under-fire Hall put his hands behind his back and walked towards his tormenter. He’s a brave man because Bance was landing plenty downstairs and there were some meaty ones in there too.
Solihull’s Chris Dean scored 40-36.
Two more home victors were Northampton’s Eithan James and Nottingham’s Ezra Taylor. Well supported James, mixing things up nicely in a one-sided six overseen by Mr Messer saw off Senegal born but now Margate based Matar Sambou whilst sculpted light-heavyweight Taylor overcame Middleton’s tough Darryl Sharp who was in as a late substitute.
Chris Dean refereed both the Taylor bout and the six in which Dublin first timer and former stand-out amateur William ‘Willo’ Hayden secured a 59-55 win over Telford’s game Dean Jones.
Verdict: A classy performance from Cacace and a war at super-flyweight make for an entertaining evening
Sam Maxwell (140lbs), 16-0 (11), w pts 12 Akeem Ennis Brown (139lbs 3oz), 14-1 (1); Anthony Cacace (129lbs 9oz), 19-1 (7), w pts 12 Leon Woodstock (129lbs 5oz), 12-3 (5); Ijaz Ahmed (114lbs 5oz), 8-2-1, d pts 12 Quaise Khademi (114lbs 1oz), 8-1-1 (2); Anthony Yarde (180 1/4lbs), 21-2 (20), w ko 1 Alex Theran (179 1/2lbs), 23-6 (15); Nathan Heaney (160lbs 7oz), 13-0 (5), w ko 5 Konstantin Alexandrov (159lbs 6oz), 10-49-4 (3); Liam Davies (124 1/2lbs), 10-0 (5), w rsf 2 Raymond Commey (123lbs), 19-12-1 (10); Eithan James (143lbs), 6-0, w pts 6 Matar Sambou (140lbs), 1-4 (1); William Hayden (138 1/2lbs), 1-0, w pts 6 Dean Jones (137lbs 6oz), 1-30; Ezra Taylor (173 1/2lbs), 1-0 (1), w pts 4 Darryl Sharp (179lbs), 5-74-1; George Bance (146lbs 3oz), 2-0, w pts 4 MJ Hall (145lbs), 2-62-2.