ON a night of savage endings there was blood, guts, debate, outrage and confusion in Coventry. The two main events finished with officials, boxers and trainers arguing, disagreeing and close to tears. The emotions at ringside remained high long after the lights had come up and the fans had found the night. At light-heavyweight, Shakan Pitters beat Reece Cartwright when his fight was called off just after the bell sounded to end round eight. Cartwright had been hurt, dropped, but had beaten the count. It initially looked like he could have continued from my position 15-feet away, but referee, John Latham, had a long look, a closer look and decided the fight was over. And, Latham is the only man that counts. It was a terrific fight up until that point and I had it four rounds to three in favour of Pitters going into the eighth round.
Cartwright was blocking a lot of the counters, rolling under a lot of punches and making Pitters work. Pitters was more mobile and elusive from the start of round three. It was a close fight, an intriguing fight and Cartwright was certainly not overwhelmed by Pitters, who at six-feet-six is a very big light-heavyweight.
Pitters was probably taking control of the fight by the middle of round eight and when the latest body shot hurt Cartwright, he moved back and Pitters was on him. Cartwright went down from a right cross in a heap; he only just beat the count and then it was stopped. There was a mild complaint at the time. It has to be considered a good and safe stoppage, but it obviously did not please everybody. Latham had the best view in the world.
Cartwright believes he was winning and has asked for a rematch. Why not, it makes sense.
In the final fight of the night, local boxer, River Wilson Bent, and Tyler Denny each refused to back down in the type of domestic fight that the sport is so often denied. On paper, perhaps, Denny was the slight favourite, but Wilson-Bent sells the tickets, he was the unbeaten man. He was the one being connected to greater honours, that’s the truth.
Denny is an avoided fighter, a nuisance, a danger, a strong southpaw and was fresh in the ring from upsetting previously unbeaten Dereck Osaze back in June. That was a simple form line; River Bent entered the ring unbeaten in 10, had never had more than a couple of hard rounds and suddenly was in a real fight. Denny has been in a lot of hard fights.
It was a relentless fight from the opening bell; tight, dirty and very physical. It suited Denny, but Wilson Bent refused to be bullied.
Wilson Bent was sharp from the first bell, quicker from the start; Denny was getting closer and by about round four the pattern was set, the rounds hard. In the sixth, River Bent dipped into a brilliant left uppercut from Denny, they held and blood covered Denny’s arm when they were separated. The punch had opened a nasty cut on River’s left eyebrow. There was a lot of blood quickly and the referee, Ian John-Lewis, called for an inspection. It looked bad, but it was allowed to continue to the bell to end round six.
At that point, I had it three rounds each, but I would listen to any argument claiming it was four-two one way or the other. It was an excellent fight and nobody was dominating.
At the end of the sixth round, the referee indicated that the cut had been caused by a clash of heads; there was a flurry of activity in the Channel Five truck as people tried to find the clash; there was one possible bit of contact, but closer scrutiny revealed the moment of impact and it was clearly from Denny’s left fist. It was not easy to spot at first.
The seventh started, the blood flowed and the fight was correctly stopped; Denny celebrated, Wilson Bent looked confused and then everybody realised that it was going to the scorecards.
Denny’s celebrations and mood changed when he realised that it was no in the hands of the judges; Wilson Bent insisted that it was a head or an elbow that caused the cut, Denny insisted it was a punch and the referee ruled it an accidental clash of heads. It was a tough fight, things happen, but it was a punch. The scores came in: 68-65 for Wilson Bent, 67-66 for Denny and the final score of 67-67. It was a draw, which was a fair reflection of the six completed rounds and the 1-27 of the seventh. However, the punch was legitimate, the cut unfortunate, but that is our game. There is no video replay in boxing and it took a long time to locate the punch – even with half a dozen cameras, experienced producers and quality equipment – and the blood proof in the replays.
“What have you got to do?” asked a distraught Denny during a very emotional interview. “This makes me want to walk away. I just want to walk away.” Dave Farrar handled the tricky interview with class, pure class and reassured Denny that he should stay and continue fighting.
It is a simple rematch. It was for the English middleweight title, but the waist jewellery was a side issue to the local pride and personal feelings in the ring. It was excellent, the rematch will be better.
Tommy Welch moved to six and zero with five stoppages when, with the backing of his travelling drummer section, he took care of Kristian Kirilov in just 56 seconds of the opening round. The first knockdown was pure class with timing that is rare in a young heavyweight division of punchers. Welch is smart and that could be an edge in a business of quick wins.