Iain Dolan reports from Ringside
A hastily rearranged undercard show from Boxxer, as a result of the postponed Buatsi v Azeez clash at the O2, made for an entertaining evening despite all the pitfalls and logistical difficulties of a late notice change of venue. The move to York Hall for the undercard fights was an astute move as a three quarters full York Hall is infinitely preferable to a one tenth full O2 arena.
The new main event was the all London clash between Issac Chamberlain and Mikael Lawal at Cruiserweight. There had been plenty of chat between the two and the fight already postponed once before so it was good to see the pair finally in the ring. The promised fireworks never really materialised as Chamberlain was in control throughout. Chamberlain was always wary of Lawal’s power and boxed accordingly, taking minimal risks but doing enough to put the early rounds in the bank. Lawal came out swinging in the 7th presumably after a stern talking to from his corner but Chamberlain rode out the brief storm and continued to cruise his way to victory boxing at range. The unanimous decision of 118-111 twice and 119-111 told the story and was possibly even a little generous to Lawal. Strategically positioned at ringside was Viddal Riley, boxer turned influencer, turned boxer who’s also signed to Boxxer and would be an easy fight to make, and would probably sell.
Chief support was a fan-friendly tear up between Louis Greene and Sam Gilley at Light middleweight. Greene had shifted plenty of tickets and had a vociferous support as the pair tore into each other from the opening bell. A left hook to the body from Gilley dropped Greene in the 5th but Greene rallied well and gave as good as he got after that. The knockdown was probably enough to seal the win for Gilley anyway but cards of 116-111, 118-110, 117-111 seemed very harsh on Greene. I don’t think anybody would mind seeing a rematch.
Another fight that might be worth seeing again was Michael Hennesy v Joe Laws. Maybe not the highest quality contest seen in Bethnal Green but both fighters earned their money without question. Hennessy looked to have broken his nose in the middle of the fight and also suffered a low blow not long afterwards. However, Laws’ work rate and relentless barrage of haymakers were enough to earn a 77-75 win on the referee’s card.
The only stoppage of the night was in the women’s fight (could probably have got some decent odds on that) where featherweight Karriss Artingstall halted Canadian Vanessa Bradford (RSF) in the 3rd after dropping her in both of the opening rounds with left hooks to the body. Artingstall will be wanting to get involved with some of the bigger names around at 122lbs-130lbs and sooner rather than later.
Given the circumstances under which this show took place and that there were only four bouts, this could have been a complete washout of an evening but the fights were all entertaining. If the main event wasn’t exactly a barn burner is still held everybody’s attention and there was a decent crowd in considering refunds for the original event had yet to be processed. On a personal level, I was delighted to spend the evening sat next to the Donald McRae who could not have been nicer or more engaging. He has a new book coming out, late next year with a following wind and described it as a “kind of Dark Trade for the 2020s” which should have any boxing fan purring in expectation (and if you’ve not read Dark Trade then you’re a terrible casual who probably pays to watch youtubers fighting each other).
Less delightful was the personal trauma suffered at Saracens v Bath earlier in the day. A pint of Level Head in the stadium has increased from £5.50 last May to £7.20 this season. I don’t know if Sarries have got Liz Truss in charge of beer prices but such was my distress, I couldn’t bring myself to do a pub review for this show. £8.95 at Wembley Arena for Joyce v Zhang II and now this. I might start an advice section of how to smuggle alcohol into sporting events if this sort of nonsense is to become the norm. (Not York Hall, I do not recommend taking liberties with security there!)