Frontline diary: Selby sizzles as Higa awaits
Paul Zanon was at York Hall on Saturday night for a Cyclone Promotions show headlined by a dazzling Andrew Selby. Read on for his ringside reflections...
Firstly – hats off to the team at Cyclone Promotions. The affable McGuigan family added warmth to the crowd, gladly chatting to anybody who wanted a photo or some boxing banter, while Ryan Elliott did an outstanding job in ensuring the timings of the event and everything media related ran very smoothly.
Joshua Ejakpovi kicked the ten-fight show off against Konstantin Alexandrov, in a four round super welterweight contest. Although it was one-way traffic for the 6ft 1inch Londoner, without a knockdown, I was struggling to work out how the judges gave Ejakpovi a 40-35 points victory. Either way, 'Hollywood Josh' extended his record to 8-0. Time to step this man up to stiffer opposition.
Next up was Ihsan Khan against Jan Korac, in a four round welterweight contest. First round, Khan displayed good footwork, hand speed and was landing shots from crafty angles. However, Korac came to fight, and fight he did. In the second round he caught Khan with a right hook to the head, forcing an eight count from the referee. It became obvious that every time Khan threw a shot, both his hands came down and all Korac had to do was wait for that inevitable opening and keep countering. I gave the first round to Khan, then I had it all Korac’s way. The judge's result was 39-36 in Korac’s favour.
The third contest was between Chris Kongo and Bronislav Kubin at welterweight. Now Kongo's a fighter that’s genuinely exciting to watch. He has power, great boxing ability and hardly ever wastes a punch. Standing at six feet tall, it’s easy to make comparisons between him and Thomas Hearns, and they wouldn’t be unfounded comparisons, even at this early stage. As expected, Kongo won. It took him barely a minute to destruct Kubin with a chopping straight right hand. It would be nice to see him challenging for the Southern Area title in the not too distant future….
Next up were heavyweights, Martin Bakole (from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Kamil Sokolowski (Poland), over six rounds. For the first couple of rounds, this looked like a complete mismatch, as it seemed that the taller, heavier and heavier handed Bakole would be on track for an early shower, especially as Sokolowski was sporting a badly blooded nose.
However, the Polish trier brought an incredible amount of heart to the table and nobody was stopping him. Not only did he last the distance, but he brought the fight to Bakole in the middle rounds and it turned into the kind of brawl which York Hall is made for, with the crowd shouting from the balconies for both opponents and each corner urging their charges to leave it all in the ring.
Although Bakole won the fight 60-55, hats off to Sokolowski for a hearty performance and contributing to what was a cracking fight.
It was now time for Reading favourite, Asinia Byfield to take on Hungarian Gabor Gorbics at super welterweight. Byfield was originally supposed to be fighting Tony Dixon in a British title eliminator, but Dixon had to pull out due to injury. Despite a game performance, last minute stand-in Gorbics was outgunned, out-boxed and outfoxed from the get go.
Patiently stalking his opponent, Byfield chipped away to the head and body with whipping hooks and then turned it up a notch in the fifth - the contest was halted after two minutes and 15 seconds of this stanza. Perhaps a clash with Liam Williams lies down the line for the talented Byfield?
Scheduled for eight, two-minute rounds, female lightweight Chantelle Cameron barely broke a sweat as she handed out a shellacking to Bilitis Gaucher. The contest lasted a mere 74 seconds. Time for a step-up?
Next up was Robin Dupre against Luke Watkins, for the vacant Commonwealth cruiserweight strap. Both boxers brought huge support and both men had come to fight. The first couple of rounds, Dupre was the busier of the two and was landing the more telling shots.
Despite Dupre still leading on work rate at the start of the third, Watkins was now starting to impose his solid jab and by the fourth, Watkins started following up with punishing short right hooks to the head, one of which forced Dupre to the canvas for an eight count. Come round six, Watkins unloaded the full arsenal and, after two minutes and 16 seconds, referee Marcus McDonnell did the right thing and stepped in to halt the proceedings.
Two floaters then followed. A four round super featherweight contest between Gelasius Taaru and Reynaldo Cajina (Taaru won 39-38) and a promising debut from super middleweight, Terry Russell against Martin Kabrhel (Russell won via TKO in the third.)
Now it was time for the headliner between Andrew Selby and Mexican Maximino Flores, which acted as a WBC flyweight world title eliminator. Despite Flores coming out of the traps at 100 miles an hour, it became obvious, very quickly, that the Mexican’s power was never going to hurt the Welshman. In addition, his single-minded pursuit of trying to overwhelm the Welshman with barrages of punches, soon blew up in his face, as Selby picked him off at will and often put his hands down to allow Flores to hit him, basically confirming, 'You can’t knock me out.’
Displaying what can only be described as a Formula 1 engine, Selby ran over Flores for the entire 12 rounds, looking slick, ferocious and hungry. By the end of the final round, Flores' right eye was almost shut with a grotesque swelling and it came as no surprise when three wide scores were announced - 119-109, 117-111, 117-112 (although I couldn’t see a case for the 117-112 result - I had it 118-110 for Selby).
Next stop for 'Superstar' Selby is Daigo Higa. The 13-0 WBC flyweight king from Japan has a 100 percent stoppage record. This is the sort of test the now 10-0 Selby relishes and one which the boxing world will eagerly look forward to in 2018.