Small Hall Boxing Is Back With A Vengeance
By Oliver McManus
It’s taken a while but, at long last, we can say small hall boxing is back with a full schedule. We’ve seen a handful of shows splattered around the country but nothing quite of the quality and quantity that September brings.
In all there are 27 shows currently listed by BoxRec as taking place throughout September in the United Kingdom. With that in mind here’s handful of the best fights you can watch at a venue near you.
The very talented Joe Maphosa gets a crack at the first title of his professional career on September 10th. He faces, seasoned away fighter, Craig Derbyshire for the vacant English super-flyweight title. The contest has been rescheduled three times due to the pandemic but should shape up into a really intriguing battle of technical skills.
Maphosa by far and away possesses the better pedigree as a former Team GB and WSB competitor but it’s Derbyshire who has caused the biggest stir so far in the paid ranks. Whilst a 7-28-3 record might not much to contend with, Derbyshire has consistently proven himself one of the toughest challenges around at the lower weights. In his last three fights the 38 year old has beaten Lee Clayton and Nathan Reeve – for the Central Area bantamweight and English super-flyweight title, respectively – before narrowly dropping a decision to Marcel Braithwate.
Steve Goodwin, the flag-bearer of the small hall circuit, is back promoting and York Hall and Adrian Martin vs Lewis Syrett tops Goodwin Boxing’s September 18th offering.
They’ve both tasted defeat in their professional careers with Martin falling short against Jumaane Camero back in March 2019. Since then he’s bounced back with two routine victories to take his record up to 11-1.
Syrett, meanwhile, took his chances in Ultimate Boxxer in September 2019 but was muscled out by Sean Robinson in the first round. He, too, has notched up a fairly comfortable win since then and holds a 7-1 record.
Both men have campaigned closer to the welterweight limit but, given their heights (5’11” and 6’0”), it’s perhaps not surprising they meet at middleweight with the Southern Area title at stake.
On the undercard there’s a six rounder contest between William Webber and Robbie Chapman which threatens to steal the headlines. Webber is a precocious talent out Stevenage Boxing Club who has matured an awful lot since his debut in September 2017. The southpaw lost his second contest via TKO to Eric Nwankwo but has looked a class act in his five subsequent contests.
Chapman advances his record five without blemish but has subsequently opted to go on the road and enters the contest at 6-7. The likeable 27 challenged Brad Pauls for the Southern Area middleweight in 2019 and has continued to show his grit against quality prospects such as Ben Fail and Caoimhin Agyarko.
Heavyweight action is (nearly) always a spectacle to behold and Kash Ali’s comeback trail continues with a defense of his IBF European title on September 18th. He faces, 7-1, Roman Gorst at Ponds Forge Arena in Sheffield. The fight itself might not necessarily be at the upper end of quality and competition but it’ll almost certainly provide entertainment for as long as it lasts.
Gorst holds a good domestic win over Boris Estenfelder but lost his German national title to, former youth standout, Peter Kadiru in October of last year. Ali has amassed a run of four defeats since his infamous bite-gate loss to David Price in March 2019. The 29 year old has stopped Artur Kubiak, Phil Williams and Tomas Salek whilst also claiming a controversial 58-57 decision over Kamil Sokolowski. The match-making along this trajectory hasn’t been the most competitive but expect another entertaining stoppage on September 18th.
Promoter Mark Prior returns to the Vale Sports Arena in Cardiff for the first Welsh promotion since the pandemic. On Saturday 25th an eight fight card is fronted by Craig Woodruff vs Joe Fitzpatrick for the vacant Celtic lightweight title.
Ironically both men are returning for the first time since defeat to the same man… Gary Cully.
Woodruff met the Irishman most recently and lost a close eight round decision but earned plaudits for his competitiveness in the contest. The Welsh boxer had Cully down in the fifth round with a right hand and displayed a similar mettle in his, equally narrow, points loss to Kieran Gething in June 2019.
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, had been on a collision course with Cully from the off: The Dragon went 10-0 between his debut in June 2015 and his contest with Cully in February 2020. On that night at Ulster Hall, Fitzpatrick was simply blasted away by an exuberant and aggressive Cully who simply didn’t allow the Belfast-man any time to settle.
This should be a fantastic and frenetic in equal measure.