Frontline diary: Friday night fights with Hayemaker Ringstar
Paul Zanon reports from ringside at York Hall on Friday night, as Hayemaker Ringstar bring a different vibe to the East End venue...
I associate York Hall with being crammed with boxing fans, a lack of oxygen due to the headcount, and a deafening support for local fighters. On Friday night under the promotional banner of Hayemaker Ringstar - the David Haye/ Richard Schaefer promotional collaboration - there was a somewhat different atmosphere at the iconic East End venue.
There was a catwalk-style runway for the fighters to walk down and a high-end catering area for those wishing to fine-dine at ringside. That in essence took up seating capacity, which in turn reduced headcount. On the upside, with less people came less heat and it’s one of the few times I’ve been to York Hall where I haven’t sweated half a stone even when static.
All that said – the new style offering from Hayemaker Ringstar oddly seemed to work. Perhaps it was the military precision of the event timings, which kept a good flow in between each bout, or perhaps it was because there were a great number of boxers and trainers in attendance, which added credibility to the show. Who knows?
Anyway – down to the nuts and bolts. What were the fights like?
First up on the nine-card bill was lightweight veteran and former three-time Southern Area champion Jamie Speight, who was up against Mo Gharib, a decorated amateur with a very big female following, who insisted on chanting, "Knock him out, knock him out," throughout the fight.
Speight, a master of crowd entertainment, relished the opposing support and even tried to engage them on a number of occasions to add to the atmosphere. On the boxing front, Gharib put together some good combinations to the head and body and was the heavier handed. Speight, as always, came to fight, but the London favourite provided the more impressive output on the evening and extended his record to 2-0 with a 40-36 points win over four rounds.
Next up was a four-round welterweight contest between Jack Newham and the Czech Republic’s Jan Korec. From the outset, Newham dictated the fight behind heavy hands and a good engine. Jab, straight right, left hook to the body, followed by right hook to the body. A predictable combination which he pulled off throughout the 12 minutes, winning a 40-36 decision. Newham extended his record to 2-0. He’s hard-hitting, accurate, has fast hands and a good defence. What’s not to like?
The third fight was another four-round welterweight contest, between Sam Gilley from London and Daniel Bazo from, yet again, the Czech Republic. In the second round, Gilley let loose with an overhand right that would have knocked out a rhino. How Bazo got up was incredible, but get up he did. However, he was down again very soon after and his corner did the honourable thing and pulled him out at the end of the round.
The next contest was a super lightweight four-rounder between Zimbabwean native, Anesu Twala [now based in London] and Rhys Saunders from Cardiff, Wales. Despite being a very slick and accurate operator, Twala lacked power. His slight frame looked more suited to the featherweight division, or possibly even super bantamweight. However, he dictated the fight on his terms and handed Saunders a bloody nose for his troubles. A comfortable win for Twala - 40-37 - but I fear he will struggle with the size and power of future opponents in this division. A drop down in weight could potentially make him a far more effective fighter.
The fifth fight of the night was destructive Dean Richardson against Jan Balog from, you guessed it, the Czech Republic. Balog came into the ring with a 52-fight record, 11 wins, an impressive gut hanging over his shorts, a distinct height disadvantage and a vastly over-sized pair of shorts.
A walkover waiting to happen? Not so. Yes, Richardson put on the better performance and walked away with a 40-36 victory, but he was made to earn every point of that win, for every second of the contest. Balog came to fight, that’s the bottom line. He walked into Richardson’s danger zone from the get go and this certainly played with the London favourite’s ability to find his range.
By the second round, Richardson was starting to land the jab more and had success with some cracking uppercuts, but he had to take a few counter hooks in order to land his own artillery. The fourth round came with some cracking exchanges to top off an entertaining fight. A good learning experience for Richardson and fair play to Balog for a very game performance.
Next up was Linus Udofia, a Nigerian native now based in Luton, against William Warburton, a prolific journeyman, in his 162nd contest. If I had to sum up the four-round middleweight fight in two words, it would have to be: ‘Fairly uneventful.’ Udofia hunted last minute stand-in Warburton for the full four rounds to extend his record to 6-0, taking a 40-36 points victory, but a damp contest never ignited in any form.
The first fight to be televised live on 'Dave' was between Scotland’s 19-year-old Willy Hutchinson and Eric Mokonzo, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, now based in Bethnal Green. The six-round [loosely termed] light heavyweight contest, was all one-way traffic. I say, loosely termed, because Hutchinson weighed bang on the weight whereas Mokonzo came in 11lbs over.
Undeterred by the weight difference, Hutchinson detonated his full arsenal from the opening bell. Fast hands, power, good footwork, a good engine and great crowd support all the way from Scotland to boot. In attendance in front of me was [very vocal] legendary boxing promoter and manager, Shelly Finkel, who was apparently representing Hutchinson. That in itself says a lot about the Scottish prospect.
After having a point deducted for holding in the fourth round, Mokonzo ate a very heavy crunching overhand right in the fifth. Despite taking the full eight count, Mokonzo managed to survive the full six rounds, losing a 60-52 decision on points. The only criticism I would have of the Carstairs native is that he became careless when trying to go for the knockout. Mokonzo connected with the odd counter hook which kept Hutchinson in check, but as he steps up in opposition, that carelessness could be less forgiving. Remember the name - Willy Hutchinson... A very exciting prospect with bundles of talent.
The penultimate fight was an eight-round welterweight contest between Mitcham’s Jumanne Camero and Islington’s Freddy Kiwitt (although Kiwitt’s background is far more cosmopolitan than the reference to north London. He holds a German passport and was born in Liberia).
Both former Southern Area champions (Camero at lightweight and Kiwitt at welter), the contest had all the ingredients for a good fight... and thankfully it was. Camero started the first half of the fight with his very unorthodox style (which reminded me of Asinia Byfield), whipping shots from his waist, but simply lacking volume.
Kiwitt, on the other hand, started the fight in one gear, a high one, and maintained that work rate throughout. He landed the more telling shots, the higher volume of punches and had good defence on the ropes. Camero shifted up a couple of gears from rounds five to eight, but I felt that he’d simply left it too late. Kiwitt came away with a 78-76 verdict after what was a very entertaining fight. I’d certainly like to see a rematch between the two further down the line.
The headliner was unfortunately a bit of a let down, in one way, but entertaining [while it lasted], in another. Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce took on Croatian-born German Rudolf Jozic in his second contest. The Croatian, in his sixth outing, had only lost one in his previous five fights and was roughly the same size as Joyce.
As the bell rang to start proceedings, Joyce chased his opponent around the ring, with very little firepower coming in return. An eager David Haye shouted instructions to his prodigy, but needn’t have worried, as an overhand right from Joyce in the last 30 seconds of the first round rendered Jozic unfit to continue.
A good win on paper for the Putney favourite in his second outing, but I fear it’s done little for his development as a pro boxer. With rumours of Dereck Chisora on the horizon, I’d like to see the affable Joyce mix with some better quality opposition before making that step up.
All in all though, a thoroughly enjoyable night of boxing. I look forward to the next Hayemaker Ringstar promotion.