By Eric Armit

HIGHLIGHTS from the past week of action

Lawrence Okolie won the WBC Bridgerweight title with a first-round destruction of Lukasz Rozanski, while Fiodor Czerkaszyn and Ihosvany Garcia also won.

Jack Catterall scored a unanimous decision over Josh Taylor to gain revenge for his controversial loss to Taylor in 2022. There were wins for Cheavon Clarke, Paddy Donovan and Gary Cully.

Christian Mbilli scored a first-round KO over Mark Heffron, and Arslanbek Makhmudov knocked out Miljan Rovcanin in the second round.

Batyrzhan Jukembayev stopped Ivan Redkach in the fifth round.

There were inside-the-distance wins for Jermaine Franklin and Ali Akhmedov in Detroit.

Vlad Panin scored a controversial second-round win over Devon Alexander.

Former European Championships gold medallist Balasz Bacskai won the vacant WBO European titles and now retires with an 18-0 record.

Alexei Papin halted veteran Isaac Chilemba in three rounds.

Dana Thorsland outpointed Seran Cetin in defence of her WBC and WBO bantamweight titles.

Commonwealth champion Tysie Gallagher retained her title as she outpointed Stevi Levy to become the first holder of the female version of the British super-bantamweight title.

Who won the week?

Most significant: Jack Catterall’s win over Josh Taylor will hopefully lead to a title shot for Catterall.

Most entertaining: Not high profile, but Jonathan Cardoso vs. Adam Lopez was an entertaining clash of styles. 

Fighter of the week: Jack Catterall, with honourable mention to Christian “Solide” Mbilli, who produced another power show.

Punch of the week: The left hook to the body from Mbilli that ended his fight with Mark Heffron was brutal, but so was the one from Ihosvany Garcia that felled Lukasz Plawecki.

Upset of the week: Dane Mikkel Nielsen, 12-2, was not expected to beat the home fighter, 20-1-2 Renato Egedi, but he disposed of him in two rounds.

Prospect watch: Cuban Ihosvany Garcia, 13-0 (10 by KO/TKO), now has wins over Ryno Liebenberg and 22-1 Patrick Rokhol.

Fight Card Observations

Rosette: To Matchroom for the only big show in town and four competitive high-quality matches. The Polish show had a world title fight, but the undercard was underwhelming.

Red Card: Bob Arum for his attack on the judging in the Catterall vs. Taylor fight. I thought the scores were too wide, but I had it 115-113. If the judges scored one round differently to the way I saw it, that would make it 116-112, and for three rounds, it would be 117-111, so disagreeing on three rounds out of twelve is no big deal.

Lawrence Okolie won the WBC Bridgerweight title on Friday. The limit for the Bridgerweight division is 224lbs. Oleksandr Usyk weighed 223 ½ lbs when winning the WBC heavyweight title last week! Now, why was it necessary to have this division between cruiserweight and heavyweight? Surely not for yet another load of sanctioning fees for the huge number of titles in every weight division.

May 25

Catterall gets sweet revenge over Taylor

Catterall gained revenge for his split decision defeat in 2022 as he scored a unanimous decision in this one. The first round saw both boxers probing with their right jabs. Catterall landed a good right to the head and although Taylor was taking the fight to Catterall he was having problems getting into range.

They clashed heads early in the second, and luckily, neither was hurt, but as they were both constantly leaning forward, clashes were inevitable, and they clashed again at the start of the third. Tayor had a better round attacking with more purpose, and he made good use of his right hook to offset the side-on stance of Catterall.

The fourth saw Catterall work hard and accurately with his jab, slotting punches through the guard of Taylor as Taylor came forward, and he landed a left to the head that forced Taylor to back away. At that point I had it 39-37 for Catterall with the three judges having Catterall ahead 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37 for Catterall.

Catterall moved even further ahead in the fifth as he caught Taylor time and again with stabbing jabs, then scored with a series of punches, including a hard left hook, and although the pace dropped in the sixth, again, it was Catterall doing the superior work. For me, Taylor was now four points behind, and the fight was slipping further and further away from him.

He responded by taking the seventh and eighth. He put Catterall under more pressure, staying on top of him, giving Catterall no punching room, and connecting with some good lefts as Catterall’s output dropped. My score at that point was 77-75 for Catterall, with the judges’ scores 79-73, 79-74, and 77-75 for Catterall.

The ninth saw Catterall bounce back, moving more using his jab again, and he put together a flashing combination that forced Taylor to retreat. Taylor came on strong at the end of the round, but it was Catterall’s round. It was Taylor’s turn to up his pace, and in the tenth, he had Catterall backing up under a series of body punches to take the round.

Leeds, UK: Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall, Super Lightweight Contest. 25 May 2024. Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing.

The eleventh was a big round for Catterall. As Taylor came forward, Catterall met him with a left hook that staggered Taylor and had him backing off badly shaken. Catterall followed him across the ring to the ropes, firing punches with both hands.

Catterall then threw away the chance to force a finish as he became entangled with Taylor. He wrapped his arm around Taylor’s neck, and as he leaned over, he tipped Taylor off balance and forced Taylor down, then fell on top of him.

Although Catterall had more success in the round, Taylor had recovered when the tangle was sorted out and he could fire back. The last saw Catterall forcing hard early in the round and Taylor taking over and finishing stronger to take the round, but it was not enough.

I had it 115-113 for Catterall, but the judges had it 117-111 twice and 116-113 for Catterall. There was no title on the line, but who needs one anyway?

May 25 

Mbilli wipes out Heffron in Canada

Christian Mbilli wiped out Mark Heffron in 40 seconds. Heffron tried to use his longer reach to score with jabs, but Mbilli forced him to the ropes. Mbilli landed a couple of body shots and a right to the head, with Heffron sliding along the ropes. Mbilli followed him and then connected with a savage left hook to the body that sent Heffron down.

He managed to get as far as putting his hands and knees on the canvas but then could go no further and crawled along the canvas whilst the referee counted him out. The Cameroon-born Frenchman made it 23 inside the distance wins.

He was defending his WBC Continental and WBA International belts. Although not filling the No 1 position, he is rated in the top 3 by all four sanctioning bodies and a real dangerman to Saul Alvarez and David Benavidez. Englishman Heffron, a former British and Commonwealth title holder, was just blown away. Talk is that Mbilli will meet Sergey Derevyanchenko in August.

Makhmudov returns strong after Kabayel defeat

Arslanbek Makhmudov cut down Miljan Rovcanin inside two rounds. Rovcanin only just made it outside the first round. A right hand finished him off in the second. It was a typical display of brute strength with no real technical skills from Makhmudov.

It has won him 18 fights by KO/TKO, but his faults were magnified in his fight against Agit Kabayel in December when he was floored three times and stopped in the fourth. Serb Rovcanin has built his record on questionable opposition and quick-time losses against Kabayel and Jared Anderson have shown his ceiling.

Arslanbek Makhmudov (Vincent Ethier/Eye of the Tiger)

May 24

Okolie destroys Rozanski in one

Okolie demolished Rozanski in the first round to win the WBC Bridgerweight title. Okolie found the target with his jab and a left to the head appeared to shake Rozanski. Okolie landed an overhand right that sent Rozanski crashing to the canvas on his back. He immediately climbed to his feet, and after the eight count, Rozanski tried to come forward but was forced back to the ropes, and another right, which curled around the back of Rozanski’s ear, put him down again.

Rozanski was a little slower getting up and complained the punch had landed to the back of his head, which was as much a case of Rozanski dropping his head forward as the punch was in transit as any intent from Okolie. After the count, Okolie drove Rozanski to the ropes and landed a crushing right cross and a brutal right uppercut that dropped Rozanski to his hands and knees.

He climbed up at seven but was still badly shaken and the referee waived the fight over, making former cruiserweight champion Okolie a two-division champion. This was his first fight since losing his WBO belt to Chris Billiam-Smith. For Rozanski, it was a case of the biter being bitten as he had beaten both Artur Szpilka and Alen Babic in the first round of his last two fights.

(Piotr Duszczyk/