Burns v Relikh / Whyte v Lewison – Post Fight
By Neel Khagram
8th October 2016
Ricky Burns survived some sticky moments to successfully defend his WBA ‘Super’ Lightweight crown with a unanimous points victory over Kiruyl Relikh.
The little known Belarusian challenger settled into his work from the start, successfully cutting off the ring and whipping in shots to both head and body. Whilst Burns is notoriously a slow starter, the hush from the home crowd said it all as the champion found it hard to fathom what was in front to him as Relikh won the opening two sessions.
Relikh continued to exude confidence in the third, judging distance and landing with counters in what was a beautiful display of boxing skills. However, a hurtful right hand to the body from Burns with 20 seconds left seemed to visibly have an effect on him as the Scotsman finally started to make an impression on the contest.
Burns, who was in his twelfth world title outing started to establish his jab and landed heavily with a right hand in the fourth and a left hook in the fifth as it looked as if he had weathered the early advances from Relikh.
The mid rounds were far more even and could easily have been scored either way with Relikh continually chasing down Burns who was boxing well off the back foot. Burns was growing more and more with confidence though and round eight was by far his best of the contest as he started teeing off on Relikh who for the first time looked frustrated.
However, the impressive Relikh found his second wind in the tenth, upping the tempo once again and landing with a huge left hook to the head and a further double left hook to the body before the bell. Burns was once again left sagging on the ropes in the eleventh as Relikh continued to have success with scoring shots.
At the start of the twelfth, many at ringside felt the contest was still up for grabs. Relikh sent Burns to the floor with a minute to go however referee Howard Foster adjudged it to be a push as we went to the scorecards.
The three judges at ringside scored the contest 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112 as Burns retained his title. In what was a tremendous battle between two warriors, boxing let itself down again with the scoring in what was in reality a much closer fight.
On the undercard, Dillian Whyte won the battle of Brixton as Ian Lewison was retired on his stool at the end of the tenth round to win the vacant British Heavyweight title.
33 year old Lewison started the fight confidently, flicking out the jab and swinging wildly as he looked to take out Whyte early. However, Whyte established his own jab in the second and threw power punches to the body in an attempt to take the heavier man’s legs away.
As the bout continued, Whyte stamped his class on the contest as the game Lewison started eating eat heavy punches through rounds five, six and seven. By round eight, Lewison’s eyes were closing given the barrage of punishment received and suffered nasal damage in the tenth which ultimately broke his heart.
Dillian Whyte now chases down a shot with Lewison’s stablemate Dereck Chisora next before targeting world honours in 2017.
Bellew v Flores / Campbell v Mathews – Preview
By Neel Khagram
11th October 2016
When Tony Bellew played ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan in Creed he may have been forgiven for thinking that his dream of winning the WBC World Title at his beloved Goodison Park was consigned to the movies. However, the self-proclaimed ‘Bomber’ fulfilled his destiny for real five months ago when he knocked out the avoided Ilunga Makabu in the middle of Everton Football Club’s historic ground to etch his name in history as a Cruiserweight World Champion. This Saturday he makes the maiden defence of his green and gold belt against American BJ Flores at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
Whilst Bellew has had his defining night, motivation should not be an issue. He still has ambitions to unify the division and must continue to look impressive when facing the likes of Flores with a big money bout against David Haye muted for next year.
In truth, it is hard to justify why Flores deserves a shot. He is ranked number fourteen by the WBC and comes into the fight having boxed only once since losing a lopsided decision to Beibut Shumenov last August. However, Flores is a loud talker and a known opponent given his stints on TV. The fact he is also good friend of Haye adds to the spice and means the fight sells. It also allows Bellew a voluntary defence against an opponent he should deal with and gives everyone the chance to watch his dangerous mandatory opponent Mairis Bredis on the undercard.
The supporting cast also features an intriguing battle at Lightweight between Olympic Gold Medallist Luke Campbell and the experienced Derry Mathews. Whilst Campbell is the favourite going into the fight, there have been questions asked of him since losing his unbeaten record to the Yuvan Mendy. If the man from Hull is not switched on and neglects his boxing ability he may come unstuck against Mathews who has enough power in both hands to make it a hard night’s work.
For Mathews, a win against Campbell offers him a path back to another World Title attempt. Having lost in his last outing to Terry Flanagan for the WBO Title, another defeat probably ends further pursuits at world level. He will therefore come into the contest extremely motivated, in what promises to be a tremendous card in Liverpool.
Bellew v Flores / Campbell v Mathews – Post Fight
By Neel Khagram
16th October 2016
Tony Bellew successfully defended his WBC Cruiserweight crown by stopping BJ Flores inside three rounds.
Flores, who looked drained on the scales at Fridays weigh-in started confidently as he looked to capture a first World Title at the third attempt. He was able to land a couple of right hands and a solid looking left hook on the champion in the opening exchanges. Bellew answered with his own body shot before the end of the session however the American probably just shaded the first three minutes.
Momentum soon shifted in favour of the home fighter in round two. Flores made the cardinal sin of not defending himself at all times after complaining about a low blow which the referee missed. Bellew pounced and floored the American with a minute and a half left of the round. Whilst Flores’s legs looked steady, Bellew caught him again with a high shot to the head to leave the visitor on the canvas for a second time. Flores beat the count and decided to go toe to toe as his hopes of victory were dwindling. However, Bellew was able to pick him off with a right hook to send Flores crashing down for the third time in the round.
The end came with fifty seconds remaining of round three as Bellew whipped in a vicious right screw shot to Flores’s body who failed to make the referee’s ten count. Upon victory, Bellew immediately called out David Haye who was ringside working for Sky Sports.
Whilst Bellew made it publicly clear who he wants next, there are other options. He could chose to take a unification fight against either Denis Lebedev or Oleksandr Usyk to cement his legacy in the division or opt for mandatory challenger Mairis Bredis who impressively stopped Simon Vallily earlier that night. However, there is no doubt that Haye is the big money fight and the one which would capture the attention of the casual audience.
On the undercard, Luke Campbell impressively stopped Derry Mathews inside four rounds to retain his WBC Silver title at Lightweight.
In what was touted as his toughest test it was Campbell who settled into the contest quickest, regularly going to Mathews’s body in the opening two rounds with the view to taking the older man’s legs away.
Mathews had some success early in the third with his own right hand however it was Campbell who continued to catch his opponent on the counter, eventually putting his opponent on the floor with seconds left of the round. Campbell continued his assault on Mathews’s body in the fourth and dropped the man from Liverpool for a second time with a left hand to the torso. Whilst Mathews did well to make the count, the end was nigh and Campbell ended the contest with the same shot with half a minute of the fourth round to go.
Campbell’s promoter Eddie Hearn stated that his charge was now one bout away from a World Title shot next year. A fight against British Champion Scotty Cardle could easily be made but perhaps the rematch against Yuvan Mendy makes most sense, giving Campbell the chance to right the wrong of his only defeat before moving onto World honours.