Ringside Report: Dare To Dream
By Oliver McManus
Goodwin Boxing were at York Hall on Saturday for their second show in successive weekends – part of a wider run of four events in as many weeks. Three Southern Area title fights headlined the bill with new champions guaranteed to be crowned at cruiserweight, super welterweight and super featherweight. With 17 fights in all, the boxing began at 4pm and Fight Post were there every step of the way.
Louie Darlin vs Phil Williams
Four rounds of heavyweight action kicked off the night in good spirits with a fiercely fought encounter, Darlin made the better start to proceedings before his 33-year-old opponent came strong in the second and third. Williams looked to have found his range quicker and let his hands go whenever Darlin found himself backed up onto the ropes. Superman it was that came good in the fourth, responding to the roar of the crowd and producing his best round. 39-38 to Darlin, who advances his record to 4-0-1.
Xhuljo Vrenozi vs Edvinas Pupluskas
Vrenozi’s second bout in the United Kingdom produced a somewhat mellowed atmosphere at the start of proceedings. The Albanian born welterweight was comfortable from the off and his jab kept him in control of the fight despite Pupluskas’ sprightly attempts to get involved. Vrenozi himself was lively on his feet and found regular success with left hooks thrown from a crouched position. Pupluskas was staying in the fight and looking to connect with swinging shots, forcing his 26-year-old opponent to stay alert. The crowd warmed up towards the end as Vrenozi continued to get the better of a well-matched contest. 59-56 for the 15 fight professional, picking up his 13th win.
Mark Butler vs Anto Nakic
Mark Butler made a comfortable start to his professional career with Nakic swinging hot and cold. Xavier Miller’s latest fighter to turn over picked his shots exceptionally well and dropped Nakic late in the second with a well-timed uppercut. The Croatian went down, again, in the third and shook his head upon hitting the canvas. He failed to beat the count and a mature performance from Butler ensured the lightweight got off to a winning start.
Ellis Zorro vs Kent Kauppinen
Zorro was in control of a fight that never really ignited with the 26-year-old looking relaxed as he peppered Kauppinen with a strong jab. His counterpart looked flinchy but attempted to draw Zorro into a slug fest with a third round that was reminiscent of Wrestlemania, at times. Zorro remained composed and did well not to lose focus, sticking to his game plan and emerging the winner by a margin of 39-38. The cruiserweight moves to five without defeat.
Sajid Abid vs Lee Hallett
His first fight in London, based in Derbyshire, Abid initiated the fight by climbing in the ring from the wrong side. Nonetheless he looked fresh on his feet and boxed well from distance. Hallett sought to lure Abid up close and landed some strong combinations when doing so. Without a win in his professional career it was clear to see that Hallett sensed he could break that duck and edged his way onto the front foot, Abid did well to manoeuvre his way out of trouble. A learning fight for the welterweight who went 7-0 thanks to a 39-37 victory.
Nick Parpa vs Taha Mirhosseini
A battle of bearded behemoths with palindromic records – Parpa entered the ring 7-1 whilst Mirhosseini was 1-7 – both fighters engaged with each other from the beginning. The home fighter made a livelier start to the contest and rocked Mirhosseini with seconds to go of the first, the Iranian slumped to the floor. The second round saw both men trading blows, Parpa landing cleanly with hooks to the nose of Mirhosseini on a fair few occasions. Jeff Hinds stopped the contest, to confusion, with Mirhosseini taking umbrage to one of Parpa’s blows but Hinds decided he had seen enough. A second round TKO for Parpa.
Youssef Khoumari vs Aleksandrs Birkenbergs
Aggressive from the outset Youssef Khoumari pursued his Latvian opponent throughout the ring, Birkenbergs was game and responded to the instructions of his cornerman (namely, to “punch him”) but Khoumari was the classier operator throughout. The super lightweight landed some concussive whacks that landed with a genuine crack, a high quality punching display from Khourmari in a convincing performance. 60-54, pushing Khomari to 8 and 0.
Adrian Redman vs Callum Ide
Redman showcased his patience in this contest against an ever-tough Callum Ide. Redman was persistent with his jab to secure himself a shut-out victory. Unremarkable from the super middleweight but he got the job done and looked comfortable in doing so. He moves to 4-0 courtesy of a 40-36 scorecard.
Brandon Ball vs Stefan Sashev
The very definition of drama, Brandon Ball entered the ring with the roar of the crowd fully behind him. A dazzling young prospect, literally with his name emblazoned on his shorts in gold glitter, the contest was just warming up when Sashev caught Ball with a thunderous hook. Enough to render a collective moment of stunned silence from the crowd and to send Steve Goodwin’s mouth into his hand. Ball tried to regain his feet, through sheer shock as opposed to anything, but he was visibly disorientated and in no position to continue. A first round knockout for the Bulgarian journeyman, Ball falls to his first defeat in five professional contests.
Jon Palata vs Dean Wingrove
Recording his fourth win of his professional career, Palata made up for subdued performances in his last two bouts with a first round knockout over his debutant opponent. Palata was light on his feet and stuck to his agile boxing nature, finishing the job with Wingrove in the corner and taking a flurry of punches
Danny Couzens vs Daniel Mendes – vacant Southern Area Cruiserweight title
The first title fight came eleven fights into the night and Couzens, in his fourth challenge for the belt, looked in slimmer physique than in previous contests. He took to the centre of the ring and looked to establish a sturdy jab that he could use as a basis for further aggression. Mendes was content to scamper around the outside in an attempt to fatigue his counterpart.
Mendes was bidding for his first professional title and was getting the better of an interesting clash in styles. He was reluctant to work a jab of his own – despite being implored to – but was producing the more aggressive shots throughout the opening stages. As the fight progressed he looked to target the body of Couzens with particular spite. Couzens remained calm and consistent with his jab, attempting to a series of one-two’s but Mendes movement usually saw him evade the follow-up shot.
A pattern began to emerge around the halfway stage with Mendes staying true and fighting from the outside of the ring. Couzens was finding it hard to land consistently on a moving target but was still plugging away at the jab. A strong overhand left pushed him back towards the ropes as Mendes showed the first sign of sustained pressure, firing in a handful of heavy shots. Couzens shrugged it off, quite literally.
It seemed as though whilst Mendes was controlling where the fight was being thought it was Couzens who restricted the tempo of the contest as a result of his permanent jab. On a couple of occasions Mendes caught his man flush on the chin and stepped back when he really should have been applying the pressure.
The 10th round erupted into a brawl as both guys began to throw with the full weight of their body — the first round in which Couzens really began to threaten his opponent, shellacking heavy hooks towards the head of Mendes. Couzens began to land clean and sent Mendes looking for cover, his best round but all too late.
99-91 from Jeff Hinds in favour of Daniel Mendes who took the Southern Area title with a comfortable-enough performance. I don’t think we saw the best of him but he had a hard time stepping up the tempo as a result of Couzens’ style.
Sam Cox vs Georgi Andonov
Sam Cox continued the feel good factor that was in the air with a fleet-footed knockout of his Bulgarian opponent. Moving to 3-0 within 90 seconds, the 24-year-old quickly reversed Andonov onto the ropes and unfurled a barrage of punches with lightning hand speed to drop his man. Despite regaining his composure, Lee Every stopped the contest after a mere 78 seconds. An impressive showing from the bantamweight.
Liam Dillon vs David Birmingham – vacant Southern Area Super Featherweight title
Liam Dillon produced the performance of the night to halt Birmingham’s history-making challenge to become the oldest Southern Area champion ever. 14 years the younger fighter it was, 23-year-old, Dillon who boxed with maturity beyond his years.
Immediately looking to get involved from within the pocket, the Chelsea supporter sat down on his punches with real venom and targeted the body with all due abandon. Hook after hook being thrown, Birmingham was getting roughed up from an early stage. In truth it took Birmingham a while to find his range as he fired in a few jabs over the first couple of rounds that fell well short of the mark. He did catch Dillon with a digging shot under the ribs but the subsequent trip to the canvas was ruled a slip.
The younger fighter looked physically bigger in the body and he began to bully proceedings with several short, digging uppercuts starting to bust up the face of Birmingham. Nothing ugly or drastic but it looked as though blood was drawn. He kept a safe defense, as well, despite relentlessly pushing forward, with an extended left arm often being enough to deflect the intended blows of Birmingham.
He continued to apply pressure and remained on that front foot, diving in with a frequent jab to nullify the attacks of his, Portsmouth based, opponent. The 37-year-old appeared to relax after the third round, deciding to follow a similar approach to that of his opponent in seeking to target the body. He began to double up on his jabs with a shot down the pipeline of Dillon but the Chelsea fan was not biting.
Perhaps predictably, given his age, Dillon was fresher on his legs and began to push the tempo, continuing to bring the fight to Birmingham. The legs buckled from Birmingham when Liam forced him to drop his guard thanks to accurate shot selection. Neither gentleman were budging from the centre of the ring or willing to alter their approach and, as a result, Liam was able to continually get the better of exchanges.
Three, four jabs in a row kept Birmingham at bay and were enough to win the rounds and pick them up on the scorecards. The body shots were merely extra punishment. Blood was in the water and Jeff Hinds had no choice but to call the contest off with Birmingham soaking up the punishment like a sponge does water in a bath.
Merciless, scintillating, phenomenal. Think of a superlative because it applies to Liam Dillon’s performance.
Sean Robinson vs Joshua Ejakpovi – vacant Southern Area Super Welterweight title
The final title bout had a lot to live up and the two unbeaten fighters came out thriving off the reception. Both men took a little while to suss each other out as they mirrored posture from the middle of the ring. Robinson was looser with the hands, however, beating Ejakpovi to the punch.
A real tactical affair it was Ejakpovi who continually shuffled and feinted to keep Robinson alert and on his toes. Neither fighter made any immediate inroads to swing the fight in their favour as the contest remained evenly poised. The pair exchanged jabs like Match Attax on a school playground. Robinson continued his early form by landing with more frequency.
Ejakpovi found himself successful a couple of times as he doubled up on the jab, the follow-up catching Robinson off guard but nothing landed with any particular power until, that is, a well-timed shot forced the Goodwin fighter to take a knee in the third.
Patiently paced with neither fighter willing to break their bluff, back and forth the jabs went. Tit for tat. The bout unfolded intriguingly with each fighter playing a waiting game, waiting for a slip-up that they could pounce on.
Robinson it was, though, who seemed to be doing the busier work and began to work with a variety of punches. Ejakpovi down in the fifth, as a result, but ruled a slip. Despite wearing camouflaged shorts, Robinson was unable to completely evade his counterpart with the 32-year-old, nine years older than Robinson, beginning to apply the pressure. Looking to establish territory and take to the front foot, Robinson stuck to the basics and, ultimately, did them better.
A real chess match, if ever there was one, with each round closer than the last it was Ejakpovi who was first to break from the rhythm as he earned success in the later rounds. Experiment with angles and twisting into the shots. The 10th round saw Robinson bouncing off the adrenaline. You saw him grit his teeth when the bell rang to start the round and his arms almost shook with the rush of the occasion. A boxing masterclass for those final three minutes, showboating and all.
Incredibly entertaining with a lot of close rounds, a nightmare to score, Jeff Hinds gave it 98-92 to Robinson. Slightly wider than was perhaps fair but the right man won, a fight that was a purists dream.
Denis Denikajev vs Dylan Draper
Denikajev looked relaxed over four rounds with the super lightweight boxing against a very negative opponent. The young Lithuanian was keen to showcase his skills as he moved with freedom and landed with fluidity. A good exhibition, almost, of his ability but against an opponent that never really threatened. 40-36 for Denikajev who moves to 3-0.
Angelo Bevilaqua vs Ricky Rose
The pair entertained over the course of three rounds, scheduled for six, as Rose continued to prove he’s a tricky customer for his opponents. Teak tough and willing to fight on the front foot he ensured Bevilaqua didn’t have it all his own way. The Italian got the better of exchanges, however, with a strong variety of punches. He dropped Rose twice in the third with Bevilaqua beginning to find his stride. Johnny Greaves’ withdrew his charge from the contest when the pair went back to their corners, citing an injured hand. Bevilaqua moves to 4 and 1 with a third round retirement.
Dalton Miller vs Jordan Grannum
The night concluded with Jordan Grannum nearly causing a scare, he and Dalton Miller battled it out to a draw over six rounds. Miller boxed comfortably behind a jab for the opening couple of rounds. The final half of the contest saw Grannum taking initiative and being the more aggressive fighter, flurrying the jab towards Miller. Grannum produced a high volume of punches and, for my money, just nicked it but a 57-57 scorecard rounded off the night.
17 fights that all provided entertainment but it’s hard to look much further than Liam Dillon when picking out the highlight – a supreme performance from a 22-year-old bursting with maturity and confidence.