After eight months out of the ring due to injury Gavin Gwynne (11-0) the Welsh lightweight champion made a return to the rind to a rapturous home crowd against Arnoldo Solano (14-21).
Gwynne clearly eager to fight and impress his home town fans entered the ring looking fired up.
The first round Gwynne looked to be forcing his work, and in round two there were some wild swings from Solano as the Nicaraguan began to frustrate Gwynne holding constantly. In round three the frustration showed as Gwynne beckoned Solano to stand and trade rather than disrupt every time Gwynne tried to box.
In the fourth round Gwynne went back to his jab and was landing some quality body shots. Solano was dropped in the fourth, intentionally spitting his gum shield out prompting the referee to insist as it was an intentional act from Solano the gum shield would be returned in the next pause in the fight. Solano landed a low blow in the fifth round, prompting an angry response from both Gwynne and his supporters who were now fed up of Solanos spoiling tactics.
Gwynnes fans hearts were in their mouth in the sixth when after another wrestle instigated by Solona Gwynne raised his foot towards his opponent after he tumbled, summoned to a neutral corner to the relief of the home crowd it was only a one point deduction. After pleas from his corner Gwynne went back to boxing well snapping the jab and going to the body in round seven.
Round eight with Salono shattered continued the trend of the fight with Solano just looking to hold rather than fight, Solano was deducted a point for his third low blow of the contest whilst Gwynne was also docked a point for punching at the break. The scorecard read 78-71 in favour of Gwynne. If nothing, it was good experience gained for Gwynne, and you can sympathise with Gwynne who after eight months out wanted to give his home town fans treat. The important thing is the W on the record.
Jake Tinklin (3-0) gave a classy performance against Fonz Alexander (6-98) winning a 60-54 decision.
The difference class in was evident to see from the opening bell. Tinklin's superior boxing skills creating openings for him to land some spiteful shots. The second round followed the same path, Tinklin walking his opponent down with his jab waiting for openings then landing some spiteful shots.
Round three Alexander started to try and throw some shots back but this just allowed Tinklin to pick him off, round four Alexander was now looking tired and threw some wild punches, knowing one big punch was his best chance of turning the fight around.
Round five saw Alexander bravely take some hurtful looking body shots and hooks. By the sixth, Tinklin knowing the fight was won, stayed behind the jab showing experience beyond his years not to get do anything silly and get caught. A fantastic performance and definitely and exciting prospect!
Kristian Touze (8-0-2) outboxed Edwin Tellez (12-51-5) to set up an all Welsh clash with Angelo Dragone.
The first round was a cagey affair with Touze taking a look at his opponent, but winning the round landing some good left hooks. In the second, Touze feeling more confident after the opening round was working well behind his jab then landing some quality combinations with Tellez only able to come back with wild swings.
In the third Touze was caught by a wild right hand which clearly momentarily shook him , Touze was now on the back foot, throwing shots but only hitting gloves and arms. Tellez had turned this in to a scrappy fight which suited the Niguracian. Round four and Touze went back behind his jab keeping his opponent away, a quitter round than the third. The fifth was back to a scrappy affair, Touze wisely boxed well on the sixth taking no risks to win the fight 59-57 on the referees scorecards.
Angelo Dragone (5-0) did his part to keep alive the exciting clash with Kristian Touze beating debutant Ilias Liokaftos (0-1) 60-54
Dragone was on the front foot from the start hunting his opponent down with a tight guard marking the face of Liokaftos by the end of round two. Dragone starting the third on the front foot again with his opponent backing off and keeping a tight guard and making it a scrappy round. Liokaftos continued to hold in rounds four and five prompting the referee to warn him.
The sixth and final Liokaftos made a fast start landing his best shots of the fight, however, after a short spell Dragone was back in control and comfortably took the fight winning all six rounds for a 60-54 decision.
Robbie Vernon (3-0) scored a third round stoppage over Daniel Alder (0-1)
The opening round was a cagey affair with both fighters feeling out their opponents but Vernon had most success behind the jab. The fight had gathered pace in the second with Alder catching Vernon with a left visibly shaking the Bridgend man.
A big right in the third from Vernon floored Alder who despite beating the count wobbled back to his corner with his back to referee Reece Carter who rightly called a halt to the fight with little complaints from the Alder Corner. Vernons fans celebrated and exciting performance.
Jake Anthony(6-0) won a decision against Nathan Junor (0-2) winning 39-37
Anthony had a tough test against Junor. Anthony throughout the fight was clearly getting frustrated and was rushing in wasting shots. By the time the fourth and final round had come around, Anthony had composed himself, and had his best round of the fight to seal the decision.
Lloyd Germain (1-0) got his professional career off to a great start with a 39-37 win over Danny Little (8-58-2)
Germain started the bout throwing sharp jabs pushing his opponent and mixing it up with head and body shots , Germain continued his precise boxing in the second using his jab beautifully again to create openings to Littles body.
Little was more active in the third round connecting with some rights though Germain used his footwork so his opponent could connect with any solid shots. Again the fourth round Germain looking far more experienced than a debutant didn’t allow himself to get dragged in to a brawl keeping to his jab and timing his shots beautifully crusied to an impressive debut win.
MTK hosted a star-studded fight night at York Hall on Friday night with both British and foreign talent taking centre stage.
ESBR were on hand to report on all of the action as it took place…
Ryan Walsh vs Lewis Paulin – 12 Rounds – British Featherweight Title
In what can only be described as a classic British Title clash, Walsh who was competing in his Sevent British title fight, just about did enough to get the victory over a very game Lewis Paulin.
Pushed all the way and both backed by very noisy support, Paulin certainly had his moments in the fight, even enough for one judge to award him a points decision.
Paulin who had only had 12 fights previous to last night compared to Walsh’s 27 had mostly fought journeyman in his professional career so must be given a lot of praise for taking a massive step-up when called upon to do so.
Although competitive right the way through, Walsh was able to dictate the pace of the fight when he wanted to as well as invite the Scot to trade on occasions.
Now 33, Walsh has given an indication of wanting a rematch with Isaac Lowe who was able to get a draw against Walsh last year or attempt to move up to European level again, after holding the British title since 2015.
Ohara Davies vs Miguel Vazquez – 10 Rounds
“OD” returned to winning ways almost exactly a year after his last professional victory, all be it in controversial circumstances against Mexican & former world title challenger Miguel Vazquez.
In what wasn’t a very entertaining fight, fans in attendance & watching at home seemed disappointed/surprised with the outcome as did Davies who held up Vazquez’s arm after being awarded a points decision of 97-94.
Davies who certainly showed signs of rust won plenty of the jab exchanges early on, looked like he was growing into the fight at some stages but never really got going in what could be described as a cagey affair.
Vasquez on the other hand started to put more pressure on Davies in the last couple of rounds but clearly didn’t do enough to warrant a points victory.
To be fair to Davies, not only was this his first fight since defeat to Jack Catterall in October of last year, he also indicated immediately after the fight that he had injured a rib which could have contributed towards his below-par performance.
Siar Ozgul (15-3) vs Anthony Yigit (23-1) – 8 Rounds
Siar Ozgul put on a fantastic display against the highly rated Anthony Yigit over 8 rounds. Ozgul who was bouncing back from his defeat to Samuel Antwi two months ago, battled through the entire fight, only losing on a 75-78 scorecard.
Yigit who perhaps had a tougher nights work than expected, is talked about as being world class by many and is likely to be looking to secure a big fight next after fighting in 3 consecutive 8 round fights.
Ozgul on the other hand who has been unlucky to lose 4 out of his last 5 fights, gained some live exposure to many, will make a decision over whether to continue to chase big fights and be in danger of becoming a ‘stepping stone’ fighter or whether he wants to make going on a winning run a priority.
Daniel Egbunike (4-0) vs Martin McDonagh (5-0) – 10 Rounds
Tentative start from the undefeated fighters with strong support for both echoing throughout York Hall.
Egbunike looking to engage in a scrap towards the end of the 2nd round, Mcdonagh preferring to box rather than trade punches.
Mcdonagh perhaps winning the majority of early rounds. Mcdonagh made aware of Egbunike’s power during the middle rounds but able to get out of trouble.
However, despite McDonagh’s early elusiveness, Egbunike’s percentage strike increased as the fight got into the later rounds with a touch of fatigue settling in with Mcdonagh.
Egbunike continued to battle as Mcdonagh continued to wobble as we reached the last couple of rounds it became evident that this fight had come too soon for the 24 year old who perhaps showed his naivety as the fight reached it’s conclusion.
The official scorecard was announced as 97-93 to Egbunike with few being able to disagree after the Londoner’s domination in the 2nd half of the fight.
Jack Ewbank (2-0) vs Michael Williams (2-14) – 4 Rounds
Welterweight Jack Ewbank started off the night with an active and busy performance over 4 rounds against Michael Williams.
Williams who was throwing very little in the first round, came into the fight in rounds 2&3 but was unable to match Ewbank’s work rate as the 28 year old moved to 3-0.
Bradley Haxell (2-0) vs Andy Harris (3-70) – 4 Rounds
Crowd favourite Bradley Haxell was making his York Hall debut against the experienced Andy Harris in the lightweight division.
Not having things all his own way, Harris had occasional success in the fight but was unable to win any rounds according to the Referee who awarded Haxell a lopsided 40-36 decision.
Sam Gilley (8-0) vs Nathan Hardy (9-25) – 6 Rounds
Looking to go 9-0, Sam Gilley went up against the very tough Nathan Hardy who was brought in at very short notice.
Originally supposed to face the awkward Jumaane Camero, Gilley adapted well to a different style as the fight went the full six rounds.
Admitting afterwards to ESBR that it wasn’t his best performance, the East Londoner re-stated his intent to fight for a title in the remainder of 2019.
For many people, their experience of “living la vida loca” is the Ricky Martin song released in 1999. Johnny Tapia lived his life to the extent that it became his motto.
His tale is one that would prompt many people to say it was too far-fetched. A life full of death and a love for boxing. Tapia’s biggest fights were almost all outside of the ring.
Death was a part of his life before he was born. Unlucky for some, Tapia was born on February 13th - it wasn’t a Friday as some have reported - but merely being born on the 13th was seemingly enough for Tapia to endure bad luck.
Tapia's father died whilst his mother was pregnant. This was refuted more than once but everyone who claimed to be Tapia’s Father was proven to be lying by DNA Testing. Jerry Padilla faked a DNA test which saw Johnny Tapia go to the grave thinking he was his Dad. Johnny’s wife Theresa pushed for a second test when it appeared Padilla was making money using the Tapia name and it came back conclusively proving he was not the father.
The defining moment of his life came when he just was eight years old. His mother, Virginia was murdered, having been kidnapped and abused, and a young Tapia was awakened by the screams which he was sure it was that of his mother and saw her chained to the back of a pickup truck.
When he woke up his Grandparents, they assumed it was the overactive imagination of the young boy. His mother was later found by the police, taken to the hospital, and died four days after the attack without ever regaining consciousness.
He remained haunted throughout his life by memories of his Mother. No-one was ever charged with her murder and Johnny never got to visit his mother at the hospital despite his pleas.
At eight, both of his parents were dead and he had already had a near-death experience. The prior year he was on a bus that drove off a 100-foot cliff. A pregnant woman seated next to him, hurled out the window to her death. A pole by the front door effectively saved Tapia by catching him with the result of just a concussion.
Maybe it was in his nature that made Johnny a fighter, or maybe it was the only career for someone who had already taken such a beating from life. Either way, his uncles were responsible for Johnny becoming a young street fighter.
Tapia was pitted by his uncles against other children in his neighbourhood for the benefit of adult wagering until the age of eleven. Being of legal age to now join a boxing gym, Tapia could now start his amateur career.
His Grandfather, Miguel had been a boxer himself and trained Tapia. He won two national gloves and won over one hundred bouts as an amateur. He made a strong start to his career despite a draw in his first bout, winning twenty-two straight bouts following that.
Tapia would miss the next three years of boxing, due to a year’s suspension for failing a drug test. During his sabbatical Tapia got himself into trouble with the Wells Park Loco Gang, ultimately stalling his boxing career even further.
Tapia’s life was furiously out of control - lucky to even be alive, - having had a fierce cocaine addiction, leading to three heart attacks in as many years.
In 1992 he was charged with threatening a witness in a murder trial. His arrests continued into 1993 as he was arrested for driving under the influence. During this period he met Teresa Chavez. Teresa would be a calming influence on the rest of his life and his rock, although that did not stop his frequent dalliances with drugs.
On their wedding night, his cousins told Teresa to check on Tapia where she found him on the bed injecting drugs into his arm. He fell into a coma and his heart stopped before being declared dead in her car. Somehow he pulled through.
March 1994 saw his return to the ring, but his troubles outside continued. He was charged with selling drugs to a policeman. Teresa chose to lock Johnny in their apartment for six weeks to avoid the drug.
Meanwhile his boxing career was taking off, winning four straight fights and going on to challenge Oscar Aguillar for the NABF Super Flyweight Title. Tapia stopped Aguillar in three rounds but the aftermath was tinged with controversy as Albuquerque Police claimed to have found cocaine in a bag after the fight. Tapia claimed it was just soap and eventually the charges were dropped.
On October 12, 1994, at The Pit, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tapia defeated Henry Martínez in eleven rounds to win the vacant WBO super flyweight title. It was a slugfest with Tapia at peak motivation with his raucous home crowd behind him. He then knocked out former champion Rolando Bohol in the second round. In his first title defence, Tapia defeated Jose Rafael Sosa by decision.
He retained the title with a nine-round technical draw with Ricardo Vargas and a decision in twelve against his onetime nemesis in the amateur ranks, Arthur Johnson. After two more wins, he gave Willy Salazar a title shot, knocking him out in nine rounds.
In 1996, he fought six more times, keeping his undefeated record and defending the title five additional times during that period, which included wins against Giovanni Andrade, Ivan Alvarez, future champion Hugo Rafael Soto, Sammy Stewart and Adonis Cruz.
His success in the ring was not matched by a peaceful life. He had two weapons charges and his bout against Hugo Soto was marred by riots in the crowd. That fight also saw Tapia turn up under trained but gut out a victory with an incredible late burst, before almost fainting in the locker room.
Arguably his defining fight had begun heating up by then. Tapia and Danny Romero hated each other. The two were both from Albuquerque and Romero’s father trained both boxers before a contentious split. Romero held the IBF title and despite a fuss about venues, the unification was made. A war was anticipated but Tapia combined blistering speed with defence and accuracy. He even had time to lean over and tell the media section 'he doesn’t hit so hard.'
Tapia's superior boxing skills earned a well-deserved unanimous decision victory before an embrace and apologies, which led to the two becoming friends and actually travelling to fights together. He continued to successfully defend his titles with wins over Andy Agosto and Rodolfo Blanco before vacating the titles to move up in weight. He defeated WBA Bantamweight Champion Nana Konadu to become a two-weight world champion.
Up at Bantamweight, Tapia would endure his first defeat. He took on Paulie Ayala in a fight that won The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. Tapia chose to stand and fight with Ayala, a choice he told was a consequence of looking for the man who killed his mother. He said,
“I found out he’d been killed, he’d been run over twice. I was so focused on killing him that I didn’t train or anything. That’s why me and Paulie got fight of the year because all we did was bang.”
Tapia had not been in the right place in the build-up to the fight, surviving for a week on ice cubes in order to make weight. Even in the pre-fight introductions, Tapia chose to shove his opponent and after the fight would lash out in every direction. Not long after the loss to Ayala, he tried to commit suicide with a drug overdose and required hospitalisation.
He returned quickly from the defeat to Ayala and subsequent suicide attempt to win the WBO title over Jorge Eliecer Julio. Prior to the fight, Tapia joined forces with the Albuquerque Metropolitan Crime Stoppers to help get guns off the streets. A "Guns for Tickets" program was created, offering individuals who turned in guns two $30-tickets to the fight.
A total of 57 guns were turned in on the two days the exchange program was held,
"It's great that there are 57 less guns on our streets", said Tapia. "I also hope that this program got our youth to think about the ways they could live less violent lives."
Tapia regained his dominance inside the ring, winning his fourth world title. He defended his belt against Javier Torres before a rematch against Ayala.
Many believed Tapia to be the rightful winner but Ayala got the decision leading the Showtime commentators to state, “Something’s not right.” Tapia was coming down from above the Welterweight limit and it was fought with Tapia out boxing the aggressive Ayala.
Following his defeat to Ayala, he went up in weight and got three wins to position himself for a title shot. He would become number one contender for Manuel Medina, who held the IBF Featherweight title. Tapia this time won a debatable decision to win a world title in his third division. After that victory, he vacated the title so he could chase a fight with Marco Antonio Barrera. He would lose that fight against the great Mexican by unanimous decision. Barrera admitted afterwards that he carried Tapia through the fight merely because he liked him.
The troubles continued outside the ring. A few days after being stopped by the police for cocaine, he was again in a drug-induced coma. The end of 2003 saw him again in the hospital, although Tapia claimed that it was an unfortunate allergic reaction rather than the overdose that many suggested.
Tapia was a classy boxer. Years of street fights developed an innate sense of timing and range that most boxers just did not have. His defensive instincts were incredible, keeping cool as punches came from all directions whilst he ducked, moved and returned fire.
His smart footwork and feints were the opposite of what you would expect from the chaotic Tapia. The fire would come out though; Tapia would throw ferocious punches in a rapid-fire manner looking to cause damage to opponents, mainly with a brilliant left hook.
For a defensive genius, Tapia took a lot of shots. They often seemed to energise Tapia as he thrived off the roars of the crowd and punches on his face. He described how the love of the crowd would bring him such an amazing high, that returning home would only lead to a 'crash deep into darkness where the call of the addiction would come right back at me.'
After the Barrera loss, he went 3-2 against relative journeyman before claiming a fight in front of his hometown, it being his last fight. It was billed as “Final Fury” and Tapia promised he would win. He fulfilled that promise with a majority decision victory.
Less than two months after that fight, Tapia was found unconscious and not breathing in a hotel room. He was hospitalised in a critical condition from an apparent cocaine overdose. Death would again visit the Tapia family but somehow let Johnny live. As his brother-in-law and nephew traveled to visit Tapia in hospital, they were killed in a car accident on the US Highway 550.
It was the only time Teresa nearly walked from Johnny. She claimed “he would never be able to make that up to me.” Tapia almost fought his way back to the ring in 2008, but contractual disagreements kept him from boxing. In 2009 he found himself under arrest for drug charges and would serve time in jail. During that time death would against visit the close relatives of Tapia, His grandfather, his mother-in-law and gandmother of Teresa all died within weeks of him being incarcerated.
He did return to boxing for three more bouts, finishing his career on a record of 59-5-2. Even during that time he returned to jail on drug charges and filed for bankruptcy. Johnny attempted to surround himself with his safety valves in Teresa and boxing. He was training boxers and whenever he was around the sport, his love for it was evident.
Finally, death would come for Tapia. Almost 27 years to the day, he was where he wanted to be, he had joined his mother. Teresa had pointed to Johnny saying he would not last long after boxing and noting that he lasted a year.
For Teresa, a saving grace was that he did not overdose. Johnny was deservedly inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017. Teresa, the ever-suffering wife, dedicated it to his anybody who had ever supported him.
Johnny had three loves in his life. His Mother, whose death had the greatest impact of any moment in his life. It drove him crazy, constantly haunting him to the point where he dreaded his 32nd birthday and outliving her.
His wife Teresa, somehow kept Tapia as straight as possible -his indulgences into cocaine never came whilst his wife was with him and his final love was boxing. It was an outlet for Johnny who was spurred on by the roar of the crowd to a greater extent than any fighter in history. The “pit bull” inside of him pulled him through battles both in the ring and the four times he was declared dead.
Twice he saw the canvas of the ring, both times he got up to win. He was a natural, so good that he went through coach after coach because no one could help him. Tapia took the punches in order to hear the crowd roar. He pawed at his cuts and licked the blood off his gloves. He described the constant beating as a magnet and “the only way I didn’t feel the pain. The pain of being alone. The pain of being without my mother.”
He did have a significant other from his three loves though. His self-declared mistress, cocaine. The drugs were easily accessible for Tapia, even at the end of his life, when clean he described them as a phone call away. It was a mistress which constantly kept Johnny on the edge of death, but Johnny would never let it put him down for the count. He was a fighter at heart, a champion who fought momentous battles both in and out the ring.
Perhaps the only question was just how great could Tapia have been?
Regarded by many as one of the most exciting American Heavyweight prospects, Jermaine “989 Assassin” Franklin (18-0 13KO) returns to the ring on July 12 when he takes on Jerry Forrest (25-2 19KO) in Tacoma, USA
. The fight is live on Showtime in the USA and is another instalment of the boxing series “ShoBox: The New Generation” aimed at bringing through the next crop of American talent. Franklin was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan a city that has produced superstars such as Stevie Wonder and Serena Williams.
Despite being a hotbed for talent, the city has its troubles. Violent crime influenced by drug and gang activity has affected the city for generations and made it a precarious place for a young person to grow up. Luckily for Jermaine Franklin, he found the boxing gym.
“Saginaw is a place that is on the road to recovery, it is not a place for the weak minded. Growing up in the ‘989’ you have to be street smart and my mother worked hard and did everything she could to keep me on the right path but at school, I was getting into fights, that is when my step dad took me to the boxing gym. I was always into sports so boxing came naturally to me and the rest is history”
Quickly realising he had natural talent for the art of boxing, Franklin went on to enjoy a highly successful amateur career, winning the coveted National Golden Gloves Championship in 2014. A chance to compete at the Olympic Games followed, but Franklin had other plans and in 2015, he stepped into the world of professional boxing.
“My amateur career was special. The experience was great and I had some good wins over people like Cassius Chaney and Cam F. Awesome, leading to me having the chance to go to the Olympic Games but I decided to move into professional boxing”
The decision to turn professional has turned out to be an inspired move. Since Franklin’s debut in April 2015 he has built up a record of eighteen wins, thirteen of those wins coming by way of knockout. Interestingly, nine of his thirteen knockout victories have come in the very first round.
Evidently, Jermaine Franklin possesses the power necessary to become a force in the heavyweight division but in his last outing against the experienced Rydell Booker (25-2 13KO), Franklin proved he is far more than just a big puncher.
“I am a thinker inside the ring, although I can brawl, I can box too. I am always looking for angles to pick my spots to attack.
"Boxing is a mental game, I realise I have to stay patient and stick to the game plan that my team sets. I learnt a lot about myself in my last fight, I gave myself about a 7 out of 10 and it was a great experience for me and my team to carry forward into future camps.”
The fight with Booker was Franklin’s first under the Salita Promotions banner, which is headed by former world title challenger, Dmitriy Salita.
Salita has been vocal in his praise for his new heavyweight hope and with his ability to place Franklin on a platform as big as Showtime in the USA, the Saginaw native is now getting the TV exposure that his talent deserves.
As he approaches the second fight of his promotional agreement with Salita, there is a sense of momentum building around the 25-year-old and he has now been matched against the heavy-handed Jerry Forrest.
Forrest, 31, has only two losses in a twenty-seven fight career to date. His last loss was five years ago, and he has only been beaten by fighters who have gone on to compete at the very top of the division, Michael Hunter and Gerald Washington, respectively.
A win over Forrest would push Jermaine Franklin closer to a top 15 world ranking and with the fight only two weeks away, he is in confident mood about the fight and the future.
“July 12 It’s simple, a knockout and win number nineteen”
“The heavyweight division is very interesting right now. You have Tyson Fury at the top, he is the best, he can fight, but when the time is right I will take on anyone I have to, to get that heavyweight belt.
“After this, fighters like Adam Kownacki and Charles Martin are who I am aiming at, they can get me closer to a title shot and that is my focus”
Jermaine Franklin certainly has the talent and self-confidence to make his presence known in the Heavyweight division. Andy Ruiz blew the division wide open earlier this month beating unified champion Anthony Joshua, and now there is a real possibility that the whole landscape at the top of the division is about to change. With that, the sport has a generation of young, hungry heavyweights ready to crash the world scene.
The “989 Assassin” believes he is leading the pack and that he next dominant heavyweight, in waiting. As he plots his path to the top, Franklin is not short of motivation.
“I love the competition; I love showing another fighter that I am the best man in this ring. I am here to be the best and to one day, be the champ and not just inside the ring. I want to leave a positive image both inside and outside the ring”
“But most importantly, I fight for my two daughters. They mean the world to me”
This Saturday night Robbie Vernon is in action on a Sanigar Events promoted show in Merthyr Tydfill, as he heads into his third professional outing against experienced journeyman Michael Mooney
I recently caught up with Robbie ahead of the fight for a Q&A session
Your next opponent is Michael Mooney, what do you know about him?
"I haven't really seen much of my opponent due to a couple of last minute changes, but i know he's very experienced. I don't tend to look at my opponents before the fight because I'd rather sus their style out myself in the ring".
How have preparations gone for the fight?
"Preparation has gone extremely well. I have quality training all around from my coach Tony Borg and my strength and conditioning coach Carl Yardley, I've also had top class sparring from Gavin Gwynne, Lloyd Germain and Josh John who are on Saturday nights card, also Jordan Withers and Lee Selby".
Are you looking to have many more fights this year?
"I'm hoping to go in for my first six rounder after this fight and then hopefully contend for the Welsh title.
What’s life like as a pro boxer Juggling life between work , family and training how do you manage it?
"My life is Boxing, I don't work so i can commit myself 100% to my sport. My family and my girlfriends family are awesome, I have so much support coming from all angles to push me in the right way and i wouldn't be able to do it without them or my sponsors".
Where are you currently training?
I train out of St, Joseph's Gym in Newport under Tony Borg who has given me so much confidence and brought me out of the amateur style and helped me box like a professional. I also get a lot of tips off Billy in the gym who along with Tony is always in my corner. Roger also assists me in the gym taking me on the pads and sharpening me up on the run up to the fights.
When and Why did you start boxing?
"I started boxing when I was 8 years old, since then I've had 8 Welsh Vests, a Gold in the Tampur Cup, A Silver and two Bronze in the British". "I started boxing because I was to hyper and my parents thought i should channel it to my benefit".
Favourite fighter of all time?
"My favourite fighter was Prince Naseem Hamed"
What do you feel are your best attributes as a fighter?
"That would be telling", "I think my overall boxing skills are quite evenly balanced".
Toughest opponent to date Amateur or Pro?
"My toughest opponent to date is definitely Pat McCormak, who i boxed for the British in the amateurs".
I would like to say a huge thank you to all of my sponsors that have helped me on the run up to the fight :-
Elite Mortgage Company Mike Poacher and Sons Swaddesh JR Plumbing Kenfig Hill Quality Butchers Riverside Garage Action Doors SWCBD PC Signs Carl Yardley St David's Recruitment NV Art Bike It John Flint Racing Royal Oak Kenfig Hill EQ2000 K92000 Bridgend Booze EW Roderick Stone Maisons
Despite a British title being on the line on Friday night, most of the gossip going into the fight at York Hall is regarding Ohara Davies’ must win world title fight against former world champ Miguel Vasquez.
Making his return after nearly 9 months out of the ring, Davies is going into a seriously dangerous fight against a Mexican opponent since losing via a points decision against Jack Catterall.
Despite disputing the judges’ scorecards afterwards, Davies has been going under the radar for his standards, and to his credit going into a much bigger fight than he perhaps needs to after only twenty professional fights.
Vasquez, who has had more than double the amount of fights than Davies has boxed in four different countries in his last four fights, one of them being against Josh Taylor in Edinburgh back in November 2017.
Having had an interesting career so far, Vasquez who admittedly may be past his best but has fought some top class operators in his time including former world champ Mickey Bey & Denis Shafikov (who was 33-0 until coming up against Vasquez).
However, perhaps a standing out point of the Mexican’s career is his debut against current P4P star Canelo Alvarez. All the way back in 2006, the two Mexicans locked horns with Alvarez coming out on top all be it via a split decision over 4 rounds. Two and a half years later, the two met again in Canelo’s 21st professional fight.
Predictably the current middleweight world champion came out on top again, this time over 10 rounds.
With the potential of a big clash of styles on Friday night, Davies should be commended for coming up against a serious contender in a fight that he may have been advised not to take.
Ryan Walsh defends his British title for the third time against undefeated fighter Lewis Paulin.
British Featherweight Champion Ryan Walsh goes up against Scot Lewis Paulin on Saturday night after two tight-knit defences against Reece Belotti & Isaac Lowe respectively.
Facing the former Scottish Area Featherweight champ, Paulin who has mostly faced journeymen throughout his career, will be fighting at York Hall for the first time, having fought last month in Glasgow.
Walsh who has recently turned thirty-three, may have another crack at higher honours if he comes through fight night successfully. Having fought for the European title in 2016, Walsh lost out to Dennis Ceylan via a split decision in Ceylan’s home country of Denmark.
Siar Ozgul Handed Huge Opportunity to Impress Against Anthony Yigit
Recently losing out to Samuel Antwi in Southern Area Title action, Siar Ozgul returns to York Hall in action against highly rated fighter and world title challenfer Anthony Yigit.
The Swede who is known by many for suffering a horrific eye injury against Ivan Baranchyk last year, has been in action twice this year, both in 8 rounders.
Having previously gone the distance against Viktor Postol Ozgul has nothing to lose and everything to gain in a fight that could propel him back into title contention if he was to upset the odds.
Sam Gilley Faces Toughest Test of Career So Far Against the Tricky Jumanne Camero
Sam Gilley (8-0) comes up against the rangy Camero who has fought Louis Greene & Liam Wells in the last couple of months.
ESBR’s own Sean Bastow has written a preview article of this fight here
Lewis Paulin travels to the famous York Hall this weekend to take on the experienced British champion Ryan Walsh.
Paulin is undefeated so far, 12-0 since turning pro in 2015. He won the Scottish Featherweight title in 2017 but there can be no doubt this is Paulin's toughest test to date.
Walsh is making his sixth defence of the British title and it's fair to say a Paulin victory would be considered a shock.
Paulin expects the pressure to be all on Walsh as he told me, "I feel the pressure is all on him. I'm an underdog looking to cause the upset, so the pressure is on the champion here. He's expected to win."
It might be his biggest test but Paulin cant wait to get into the ring at York Hall.
"Yeah, I'm absolutely buzzing to be fighting for the British title in London on Friday." Paulin said. "Walsh has a lot of history and proved he's a tough guy so I see it going all the way but I'm pretty sure with our styles it's going to be an all action fight.
"This is my first big fight in the spotlight so I'm looking to impress people and catch their attention."
With the training camp done, Paulin feels he has done all he can in the build up.
"The training camps over now and were in a very good position." He explained. "Couldn't have given it any more commitment and more than ready for the fight."
Having tasted the feeling of winning a Scottish title, Paulin expects a British title win would supersede this moment.
"Getting my first title in the professionals was a good moment but I'm sure Friday will top that by quite some."
Lewis Paulin takes on Ryan Walsh as part of MTK Global's show at the York Hall on Friday. Also on the card is Ohara Davies taking on former world champion Miguel Vasquez.
On Friday night MTK returns to York Hall as O'Hara Davies, Miguel Vazquez and Ryan Walsh all feature.
One of the more recent signing's is top prospect Sam Gilley (8-0), back in action and competing in his first fight since making the switch to MTK Global,
"I am really excited to be performing under the lights, I have seen the rise of the promotion and have been impressed with the way they deliver for their fighters.
"The fact that they have this deal with ESPN and IFL means people can see my fights all around the world. I got sent a photo from a primary school friend with him and his family all sat watching my last fight...its madness"
Gilley has had a relatively testing start to his professional career, sharing the ring with some of the UK's most notable journeyman which he says has been an invaluable experience for his career,
*The toughest fight of my career was against Willie Warburton, he is such a tricky opponent and I learned so much from sharing the ring with him"
"I dont think the some of the away fighters get the respect they deserve from fans, they are the backbone of boxing"
The opponent for Gilley's next outing is the tough and unorthodox Jumanne Camero who has a reputation of causing upsets on the road as the away fighter; something that has not been overlooked by Gilley
"Jumanne is one tough cookie, he can switch from southpaw to orthodox so quickly and it has certainly shown that in some of his fights the awkward style has been overlooked and he had ended up causing a few upsets along the way"
"I have seen a few of his fights and I am not going to make the mistakes of opponents past"
One of the biggest struggles a professional fighter faces is the ability to be able to sell enough tickets to cover the cost of the opponent's purse, this is something that really makes or breaks a fighter and can be a huge distraction in the lead up to fights.
This is something Gilley is very much aware of.
"As we are speaking, I am literally out dropping tickets off for my fight"
"I am fortunate in the sense that i have good people around me to help take the pressure off when it comes to selling and dropping off tickets"
*It can be a huge distraction when you are trying to train for a fight, but it is part and parcel of the business"
At this stage of his career, Gilley is looking to push on for a professional title and a win over Camero will certainly push him in that direction.
"I want to be fighting for a professional title by the end of the year, I want to go the traditional route of Southern Area, English and then the British title"
"I am excited with what the next 12 months holds for me as a fighter and I can't thank Lee Eaton & MTK enough for this opportunity".
Kal Yafai knows he must impress in his fifth WBA World Super-Flyweight defense against Norbelto Jimenez at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday night, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK as he targets massive names and unification fights next.
The unbeaten Birmingham ace (25-0 15 KOs) defends his title on American soil for the second time having stopped David Carmona last May in California – and the 30 year old says this weekend’s defense against mandatory challenger Jimenez (29-8-4 16 KOs) is the perfect showcase for him to land the unification bouts and major showdowns that he’s been chasing. “My eyes are solely on Norbelto Jimenez and I need to do a good job on him, but then I need a massive fight,” said Yafai. “Eddie and I are on the same page and he delivers for his fighters. I haven’t had that big name yet but that will come. “I was going to fight at the end of April but I had a hand injury so I've had to wait a little bit longer but it's not been too frustrating as I've been fighting twice a year and I'll be on track to do that this year too. “He boxed for the World title four years ago against Kono in Japan and he drew that fight, he looks tricky and awkward, game and tough as they all are from that part of the world. His record is deceptive with the eight losses because he hasn't lost since 2011 so he's going to be an interesting challenger for me. “I think he'll try and box on the backfoot early on but then he'll try and have a go as well once he realizes that isn't working, so I think the styles will gel and it will be a good fight. I just think that I'll be too much for him.” Yafai’s eagerness to dazzle at the Dunk has extra urgency following his admission that he was lackluster in his last performance. Yafai met Israel Gonzalez in Monte Carlo in November and gritted his teeth to see off the Mexican, digging in to hang onto his title on points. “I was flat last time out and not too impressive,” said Yafai. “I wasn't as good as I wanted to be but that's all down to me, it was my fault. I thought I 100 per cent won the fight but it wasn't a good performance, I don't know why I was flat. It was a weird atmosphere and venue, but I don't like to look for excuses as I got in the ring, I can't say I was injured or had a niggle as I got in the ring, and when you get in the ring it's down to you to perform and I didn't. “Even on a bad night I managed to win, I try to take the positives from it but it's never a good thing to look bad. It was just one of those odd nights that I didn’t feel myself, I could see the shots there that I wanted to land I just didn't get going. Maybe I was a bit complacent but after the performance and the feedback I've had on the fight, it's made me hungrier and I feel like I am the challenger for the World title now as I want to prove to everyone how good I am.” Yafai’s clash with Jimenez is part of a huge night of World title action in Providence as hometown hero Demetrius Andrade defends his WBO Middleweight strap against Maciej Sulecki. Former Heavyweight World ruler Joseph Parker takes on Australian former World title challenger Alex Leapai, Boston’s Mark DeLuca faces Canadian Brandon Brewer over ten rounds at Super-Welterweight, young talents Alexis Espino and Raymond Ford taste their third action in the paid ranks, as does Otha Jones III fresh from his first round KO win in London. Local favorite Anthony Marsella faces Jose Aubel, another unbeaten Providence fighter Anthony Concepcion takes on Yasmani Pedroso, former World title challenger and Providence native Shelley Vincent meets Simone Da Silva.
Demetrius Andrade believes he’s on the right path to prove he is the man at 160lbs as he defends his WBO crown against Maciej Sulecki on Saturday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK. Andrade (27-0 17 KOs) is chasing down an undisputed clash with Mexican ace Canelo Alvarez, while Kazakh ace Gennady Golovkin is also on the radar of the Providence star, who fights at home for the first time as a World champion. Both Andrade and Sulecki (28-1 11 KOs) hold wins over Jack Culcay, while the Pole’s sole defeat came at the hands of former World ruler Daniel Jacobs, and he enters the bout after a gut-check win over Gabriel Rosado in March. Andrade has seen off tough African and WBO #2 Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant strap in Boston in October and then defended the crown for the first time against rugged Russian Artur Akavov with a 12th round stoppage in New York in January, and the champion believes this run of tough clashes is priming him for the big showdowns he’s hunting. “Maciej is a tough guy, a top ten guy and he's only lost to Danny who's faced GGG and Canelo,” said Andrade. “The boxing world knows that I am the baddest wolf out there because if I hadn't, I would have faced Canelo and GGG already and would've taken my loss like a man and they would've captured my WBO title at two different weight classes. So that goes to show that I have control over myself and was right to have faith that I'm doing the right thing, so don't give up as my time will come, you're not going to just keep digging and digging and then just stop without knowing that that next dig is for all the diamonds. “The Rosado fight was a grueling one for him, he fought Culcay and he gave him a tough fight too, so he must have skills to be where he is and fight the fighters he's fought. So unlike GGG who just boxed Steve Rolls who was ranked about 81 in the world, I’m fighting real guys. We are fighting tough guys to get it on with Canelo and GGG whereas they have been cherry picking and they can do that with the profile they have, it's just business. I'm not upset about it because my time will come when I walk in with one belt and walk out with four. “Everyone has their own opinion about any fighter, I won't know until I get in there. I am no fool, I know that I have to be on my game and not think about his other fights because everyone i different. Culcay did a great job against him, put him down, Rosado put him down, so they got to him by accumulating punches and letting their hands go. But that's them, not me, I have a different IQ to them.” Andrade’s clash with Sulecki is part of a huge night of World title action in Providence as unbeaten Briton Kal Yafai defends his WBA World Super-Flyweight title against mandatory challenger Norbelto Jimenez. Former Heavyweight World ruler Joseph Parker takes on Australian former World title challenger Alex Leapai, Boston’s Mark DeLuca faces Canadian Brandon Brewer over ten rounds at Super-Welterweight, young talents Alexis Espino and Raymond Ford taste their third action in the paid ranks, as does Otha Jones III fresh from his first round KO win in London. Local favorite Anthony Marsella faces Jose Aubel, another unbeaten Providence fighter Anthony Concepcion takes on Yasmani Pedroso, former World title challenger and Providence native Shelley Vincent meets Simone Da Silva.