Frontline diary: Beautiful brutality?

Paul Zanon
24/04/2017 2:32pm

Paul Zanon was ringside for Saturday's show in Liverpool, with local boy Martin Murray topping the bill...

The evening was entitled ‘Beautiful Brutality,’ with main reference being to the clash between Merseyside favourite Martin Murray and Philadelphia slugger, Gabriel Rosado.

Did the headliner live up to its expectation and hype? We’ll get to that soon.

The evening kicked off with a super lightweight four rounder between Ged Carroll and a very game last-minute replacement, Josh Thorne.

Ignore Thorne’s record (1-8-1), he dished out all the trouble Carroll could handle, including a bloodied nose and although he lost (39-37), he should be proud with that performance. Carroll moved on to his fifth consecutive win in 12 months.

Next up was Steve Brogan against Henry Janes at lightweight. The pair had only fought a month ago, with a draw concluding that bout. Despite the result repeating itself, the pair engaged in a cracking scrap, although it looked like Janes had done enough to get his hand raised. A third instalment would be warmly welcomed.

Liverpool local Ryan Mulchay put on a technically great performance to beat Andy Keates 59-55. However, it’s worth mentioning that Keates pushed Mulchay to the limits and gave him all the trouble he could handle, including a bloodied nose.

The first championship fight of the evening was between super lightweights, Tom Farrell and Tommy Carus, both from Liverpool, who battled it out for the full ten rounds. The result of 97-95, which saw Farrell defending his WBA international strap with success, was justified. Both fighters came to fight and their bloodied faces certainly showed that by the final session. Despite a strong rally at the end from Carus, it was Farrell’s slick, accurate, switch-hitting and counter punching which won the day for him.

Joe Cordina was up next against last minute challenger, Nicaragua’s Jose Aguilar. As expected, Cordina landed as and when he wanted against the shorter and less able South American, who had only won once in his last 21 outings.

What was on display from Cordina did show us that he is technically accomplished, but he could have equally showed this on a punch bag. He stopped Aguilar in the fourth round, in a fight which should have been stopped the round before. The bout tells us nothing about the vastly talented Welshman. However, his next test against Jay Carney on 29 April, on the Joshua versus Klitschko undercard, will certainly be a step up.

Cordina has showed, as an amateur, that he’s a very promising prospect indeed. Does he possess the tools to make it as a professional? Based on his amateur pedigree, absolutely. Certainly one to follow with bated breath.

The sixth fight of the evening, between Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd and Lee Appleyard, was without a doubt the most memorable and value for money. Both had huge followings at the Liverpool Echo Arena and from the first bell it was obvious that neither wanted to play a chess match, as they battled it out over 12 rounds for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight title.

Appleyard started the stronger by far. He nailed Dodd with some straight right hands which had Dodd in plenty of trouble and even opened a cut above his left eye. However, by round three, the slick lateral movement from Dodd and excellent counter punching started to pay dividends. Two punches remained consistent from this point forth for Dodd - a looping overhand right and a counter left hook to the head, both having a high success rate of landing.

As the second half of the fight progressed, Dodd added the lead right hand to his repertoire which now saw him comfortably in control. Despite a valiant effort from Appleyard in the seventh round to turn the tide, it was Dodd all the way from rounds 8-11.

Round 12 was Gatti versus Ward style stuff, with both men leaving it in the ring. Without a doubt, it was the best appreciated fight of the evening, with both men receiving a standing ovation. The scorecards read 117-113, 116-112, 117-112, all in favour of Dodd.

Next up was Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding against London’s John Ryder, fighting for the vacant British super-middleweight title. With both men possessing power and having mixed in good company, there was an expectation that a firework or two may be released in the square ring as the two clashed. Unfortunately, this was far from the way the script panned out.

The opening session was actually not too bad. Fielding was very comfortable with Ryder’s southpaw stance and was using his five inch height advantage to ping out his rangy jab. Unfortunately, from rounds two to eight it became a messy battle of the clinches, with neither fighter able to execute their tactics in any form.

Fielding had marginal success with his jab and straight right hands, which was most likely swaying those middle rounds his way. In rounds nine to twelve, Ryder went on the attack, perhaps aware that he might have slipped behind on the cards, but also that he was fighting away from home and needed to put in a comprehensive win to convince the judges. Round nine managed to spark off some entertaining close exchanges, but unfortunately, the fight just never ignited. The judges' scorecards awarded the win and the belt to Fielding, via a split decision - 116-113 (Fielding), 115-114 (Ryder) and 115-114 (Ryder).

The headline act for the evening was St Helens’ affable Martin Murray, who had dropped back down to his first outing at middleweight since summer 2015, against America’s Gabriel Rosado. Both fighters had expressed that the fight was signifying a crossroads in their careers and losing was not an option.

The hype before suggested the bout would be a full scale riot. A war of Morales versus Barrera proportions. Unfortunately for the crowd, that never transpired.

Rosado, the more upright of the pair, was looking to engage in a full-blown battle from the first bell, but Murray played the clever card and worked his counter game with great success, keeping the fighting at his range.

Although Rosado was the one walking forward the majority of the fight, he wasn’t scoring with the more eye catching shots. CompuBox Punch Stats showed that Rosado landed only 11 jabs during the whole fight, compared to Murray’s 45 and Murray’s success with power punches was an incredible 43.7%. Although the busier, Rosado was the less successful and accurate on landing with an overall success rate of 24.7%, compared to Murray’s 34.9%.

The first three rounds were close, but Murray’s jab allowed him to create the space he needed to work some lovely left hooks and uppercuts. Rosado had some success with body shots and straight rights, but the cleaner work came from Murray.

In the fourth round, Murray absorbed a huge uppercut. The kind of punch that would normally render a fighter unconscious. However, he came back and rallied with his own right hand, in an effort to let Rosado know he was far from hitting the canvas.

Rounds six to eight, Murray took the points back to his corner. His jab was seemingly faultless and his hooks and straight right hands were connecting with great success. Murray also decided to let his hands drop by his side on a number of occasions, which seemed to work well when looking to lay traps for Rosado to step into.

Round nine was a Rosado round and the tenth was Murray’s, landing almost every power punch he threw. Although he was lucky not to be deducted a point for a very low blow. The eleventh and twelfth however, were Rosado’s without question. His work rate was higher and his levels of aggression and success superseded his outputs from the previous sessions.

The judges' scorecards were somewhat interesting - 114 -114 a draw; 119-109 and 116-112, in favour of Murray. The 116-112 was about right, but the obvious clanger was the 119-109 from Polish judge, Leszek Jankowiak.

Feeling (justifiably) aggrieved with the result, Rosado leant over the ropes, expressing his disgust to Matchroom boss, Eddie Hearn, before engaging in a heated scuffle with Martin Murray.

Did the evening live up to its billing of ‘Beautiful Brutality’?

Not really. The Dodd fight was the best (and most deserved) reflection of this moniker, but otherwise, it was a fairly tame affair. Bar the Cordina contest, all the fights went the distance and the fuses were rarely ignited.