The Night of Champions: A Controversial Decision, Tom Jones & More
By Louis Devereux
If you happened to be watching the boxing on BT Sport this past Saturday night, then you will have seen first round knockouts, British title wins, controversial scoring (no surprise there) and undefeated prospects, all accompanied by the constant din of 1500 raucous Stoke fans.
I was lucky enough to be ringside for this whole event, and as such I was one of the few who managed to witness the rematch between Ijaz Ahmed and Quaise Khademi for the British super-flyweight title,
It was an injustice that this fight wasn’t broadcast live, as it was the fight of the night by some distance, and one of the most enjoyable fights I’ve watched so far this year.
In this modern world of YouTuber’s, novelty fights and social media ‘beef’, it was great to be reminded of what true boxing is really about. We saw two evenly matched local fighters giving it their absolute all in a high paced scrap for the British belt.
It seemed as if both men threw at least 800 punches a round, and though I scored it 115-113 in favour of Khademi, you can’t argue with a draw, which hopefully sets up a trilogy fight between the two further down the line.
Liam Davies was the first fight on the main card, winning by a pretty spectacular knockout in the second round to open the night in some style.
This was followed by a fairly dull, scrappy fight for the British and Commonwealth super-lightweight titles. Sam Maxwell beat Akeem Ennis Brown via unanimous decision and though this was a heavily disputed result, I can’t imagine there will be many people wanting to see a rematch.
Anthony Yarde was up next, but that fight was over as soon as it started thanks to a number of heavy body shots, putting Yarde back on track with a first round stoppage after his loss to Lyndon Arthur at the back end of last year.
Throughout this fight, however, my main focus was on the crowd, and the floods of vocal Stoke fans finding their seats, their hometown hero Nathan Heaney was up next, and although there had been a steady stream of them arriving throughout the evening, this was when the stands really started to look packed.
Heaney’s ring walk was, for me anyway, the highlight of the evening. It seemed to fire up his loyal following, as chorus after chorus of ‘Delilah’ by Tom Jones drowned out any other noise in the arena (and anywhere in a five-mile radius I’d imagine).
For the whole time the fight was going on, all I could see was Nathan Heaney boxing his way to a pretty dominant 5th round knockout, and all I could hear was swarms of loyal Stoke fans cheering their man on.
I’ve since watched the whole night back, and whilst it sounded good on television, you need to experience it in person to really get an idea of how well-loved Heaney must be by his adoring followers. Hopefully, it won’t be long until we see Heaney in a harder fight, perhaps setting up a monster event at the Bet365 Stadium in the future.
The main event was preceded by a four-round float, and whilst there was some blood, low blows and a bit of taunting, there was little else to report from this fight. George Bance increased his record to 2-0 with a decision victory, just as expected.
At this point, it was clear the tension was building for the main event Anthony Cacace vs Lyon Woodstock Jr for the British super-featherweight title.
Woodstock showed great heart and bravery, but was convincingly beaten up and looked shaken and wobbly after being dropped by an uppercut early on. His corner could have quite legitimately thrown in the towel and I don’t think many people would have complained, but he managed to survive long enough to hear the final bell.
It was an impressive performance from Cacace, and the Northern Ireland fighter left the building as he came in, still the champion.