NEWCASTLE, TYNE & WEAR — Taylor Ward (brother of County Durham bantamweight Martin) thrilled an O2 Academy crowd in the centre of Newcastle with an exciting local derby win over David “Dynamite” Lake, Sunday. Part of an entertaining card overall, Ward, Britain’s youngest professional fighter, showed Lake the importance of head movement, controlling an exciting tear-up before knocking out his South Shields rival with crunching left hooks in round 4.
Lake (128) was roared into the ring and as Ward (126), followed him out from the bowels of the hall decked in zebra print trunks, there was an audible lift in atmosphere. Ward edged matters from the bell, rolling under Lake’s straighter punching to deliver spiteful counter hooks, one of which splayed Lake across the ropes towards the end of the opening round.
Lake, 3-2 (1), got creative in the 2nd, spinning Ward, 2-0 (1), around before hanging him over the top rope. Ward continued to shoot home snappy rights and accurate left hooks to clinch the points in a busy frame. He out hustled Lake in the 3rd, peppering him time and again with rapid three punch combinations. Lake, to his credit, kept pressing on, striving desperately to win.
The finish was impressive. A mid-ring shuffle from Ward brought whoops from the audience before a short, numbing left hook dropped Lake like a brick (after freezing him in mid-air). Ward blew a kiss into the crowd before finishing off a woozy Lake at 2:27 with a series of hooks. Little wars such as this one are worth their weight in gold.
This was the maiden voyage for Newcastle-based Wraith Promotions at Westgate Road’s former bingo hall – now a thriving music venue. The ring had been erected atop the stage at one end of the venue, which made it more a 2D experience for punters, who only had access to one side of the ring (the balcony overlooking the standing area could be pure gold, though, if the ring can be repositioned onto the main floor). Boxing on a Sunday afternoon was good news also; fans were generally well behaved, relatively sober and didn’t have transport issues to worry about after the final bell.
Teesider Shafiq “Chubzy” Asif also managed to impress against Britain’s self-styled “Number One Journeyman” Johnny Greaves at welterweight. Greaves, East Ham, London, 3-87 (1), had spied the previous bout from the cheap seats, but he plainly hadn’t read his audience, and after a few dirty tricks that included cynical low blows and the odd fly shoulder in the mush, the southerner was being booed to the rafters. Asif (141) was one of the few fighters on the card to exhibit poise and patience. A smooth jab, decent footwork and fast fluid punching put the showboating Greaves (145), whose antics bordered on pantomime at times, in his place. Asif strolled to a 40-36 decision and rises to 4-0 (1).
Entrance of the afternoon went to livewire Dougie “The Bullet” Curran who arrived looking like a cross between Bane and an Ashington collier in a gas mask and flat cap, to shoot a hole in Leeds portsider Leroy “Little Train” Smedley. Curran, 6-14-2 (1), bulled from a crouch, whereas Smedley, 1-3 (0), who flashed a tidy straight left, looked to box cutely on the back foot. After an intriguing couple of rounds, Curran unleashed a powerful overhand right that clattered Smedley in a corner. To his credit, the Yorkshireman clambered up to carry on but referee Andrew Wright was in close attendance and pulled the plug at 1:08 of round 3. Despite being announced at junior lightweight, both Curran and Smedley weighed 136 lbs. (which meant they’d actually crept up into junior welterweight).
Lancashire gatekeeper William Warburton upset debutant Karl Ferguson (kid brother of retired heavyweight David) to score his sixth win in 44 bouts. Ferguson began well enough, yet ran out of puff after just a round and the seasoned Warburton quickly picked up on the fact. The visitor proceeded to dish out a systematic hiding until 2:50 of round 3 when referee Wright called time and sent both men to a neutral corner. A bizarre scene then unfolded as Wright pulled out a pen and card and began studiously jotting down notes (presumably his scores) while both boxers and the entire audience looked on, completely baffled (“Is he checking his lottery tickets?” questioned one wag). Eventually, Wright broke from his daydream to inform everyone the fight had been stopped in Warburton’s favour. Both men weighed 150 lbs.
Heavyweight headline act Akaash “Ca$h” Hussain, 2-1 (0), struggled mightily against limited Slovakian Lubo Hanktak, 9-46-3 (5), who had taken the fight on only a day’s notice. Hussain had been out of the ring for 18 months after failing an eye test, and he looked to be fighting through a blur at times against Hantak, who made all the running and seemed good value for a draw. The popular Hussain was on the right side of a 39-37 score in any case.
Anthony “Babyface” Nelson, another South Shields prospect, outworked Wolverhampton’s Delroy Spencer over a 4 x 3 junior featherweight affair (both 119). Nelson, a tad upright, notched his third victory in a row (one quick) against the veteran spoiler with quick bursts of punches and smart up-shots delivered from underneath. Spencer, 14-141-3 (1), had to deploy his considerable survival savvy in order to stick to the younger man over the final session but went down 40-36 on the cards. Nelson’s most ardent supporter raised a chuckle with a solo rendition of Jan Garber’s 1926 hit “Baby Face” between rounds.