Ringside report: Scorching action at York Hall
Paul Zanon reports from the MTK show at York Hall, as Chantelle Cameron, Danny Dignum and Liam Walsh secure impressive wins...
It may have been cold and raining outside, but inside, the temperature was nearer to tropical as East End’s mecca of boxing, York Hall, was packed to the rafters on Saturday night for MTK's latest show.
The best part was, the heat was nowhere near the temperature of some of the scorchers those in attendance were about to be treated to.
First up was a four-round super-featherweight contest between Nicaraguan Jose Aguilar and Hackney’s Frank Arnold. Despite a game and crafty performance from the South American, Arnold was simply too strong and methodical with his attacks to ever be in any bother. As a result of a second round knockdown, Arnold won the contest 60-53, moving him to 6-0-1.
Heavyweight action next as Londoner George Fox took on Poland’s Artur Kubiak. The moment the opening bell rang, both fighters engaged in a tear-up, mainly instigated by Kubiak. Once the much taller and seasoned Fox was able to work behind his jab, he was able to tame the Tyson-esque style of the Pole, countering beautifully and using his lean back to winning effect. Fox won 40-36 on points over four rounds and moved to 3-0.
Fresh off his Southern Area light heavyweight victory, Dan Azeez put on a very strong performance against Latvian Edgars Sniedze. Working behind a ramrod jab, Azeez was able to bob and weave any attacks from Sniedze, and counter at will. By the fifth round the Latvian’s nose was bloodied and his soul destroyed as Azeez put him to the canvas with a big right hand. Shortly after rising, he was back down again and the referee called the contest to a halt. Azeez moves to 10-0.
The fourth contest of the evening at super welterweight was between Essex fighter, Liam Wells and Eltham’s Ohio-Kain Iremirem. Wells displayed a sturdy defence from the start and evidence of power to boot, however, switch-hitting Iremirem proved he was no walkover and was happy to take a shot to return one. The six-round contest provided plenty of action for those in attendance and despite Wells winning a 59-54 points verdict over six rounds, there was a case for much closer scores. Great fight.
Next up was super lightweight debutant Aaron Prospere against Stuart Greener. From early doors, Prospere displayed silky smooth footwork, accuracy and effortless lateral movement. What’s not to like about this man? With knockdowns in the first and third sessions, Prospere won 40-34 over four rounds. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
The sixth bout of the evening was at super welterweight between Southminster’s Jack Martin and Lithuanian born Yorkshire resident Zygimantas Butkevicius. Martin, composed from the outset, was in great physical condition, looking patiently for the openings before unloading with some lovely single shot power punches. Despite some great action in the third session, Martin was in control, taking a 40-36 points victory.
The fight of the night, without a doubt, was between Danny Egbunike and Billy Allington for the vacant Southern Area super lightweight title. Both fighters had huge support and both delivered a barnburner for everyone in attendance, with the referee hardly needed as both fighters left it all in the ring.
In the second round, Allington fired off a crunching one-two, which had Egbunike in all kinds of trouble. Incredible how the Chessington man didn’t go down. By the end of the fourth session, Egbunike’s face was reddened and he displayed substantial swelling under his left eye. By this stage, Allington was clearly winning the fight.
Come the fifth session and Egbunike dug deep and started to unload his own artillery, which now left Allington’s previously unmarked face with a number of reminders that he was in a two-way contest. By now, the crowds were roaring as the fight entered the second half of the championship rounds.
From rounds seven to ten, Egbunike moved up another level in terms of grit and aggression, looking the fresher fighter. The straight right hand became a honey punch for him and in the last six minutes of the contest it seemed he couldn’t miss with the punch. After ten rounds of fireworks, Egbunike won 97-93 to be crowned the new Southern Area champion. Brilliant fight and props to both men.
With an interested Claressa Shields in attendance, Northampton favourite Chantelle Cameron took on Argentine Anahi Ester Sanchez over ten, two-minute rounds.
Despite both fighters letting their hands go in the opening session, Cameron soon became the boss, dictating the pace and direction of the fight. With relentless skill and two knockdowns in the ninth round, Cameron propelled herself into the mandatory position to challenge WBC super-lightweight champion Jessica McCaskill.
Broadcasting live on ESPN, Cameron secured a wide points victory (100-89 x2, 99-90), sending out a strong message to those in attendance and also fellow super lightweight Katie Taylor.
The ninth contest of the evening was between Liam Walsh and Maxi Hughes for the WBO European lightweight crown. Both fighters brought great support, but as always, the Farmy Army turned out in greater numbers for the Walsh clan, backing their man come hell or high water. In brief, it was a battle of the jabs, with neither man taking risks for the first six rounds. Overall, with his more accurate punching ratio, Walsh landed more frequently, while the more explosive one-punch power came from Hughes.
The last two rounds Walsh shifted up a couple of gears, which saw Hughes sporting a bloodied nose, but he was never in any great trouble. I’d say those last rounds secured Walsh the victory. The final scores, all in favour of Walsh and now the new WBO European champion, read as follows: 97-93, 98-92, 96-94.
Next up was a ten-round welterweight contest between Michael McKinson and Argentine Luis Alberto Veron. The Buenos Aires resident was given a count in the opening session which looked more like a slip, but nonetheless, McKinson packed power. Working behind his jab, using sneaky lean backs and countering well with hooks, the Belfast resident secured a unanimous points decision (98-90, 97-91, 99-89), moving his record to 18-0.
The headliner for the evening didn’t fail to deliver. Middleweights Danny Dignum and Conrad Cummings battled it out for the WBO European middleweight title. Cummings came of the traps intent on swarming southpaw Dignum with volumes and power, but the Essex fighter was undeterred, pumping out his piston like jab to keep the Belfast man at bay. As Cummings, relentless and intent on hurting Dignum ploughed forward, he started punching into thin air, as Dignum was countering beautifully and moving off at angles.
The conclusion came in the fifth round when Dignum detonated a massive straight left hand into Cummings face. With the referee in close proximity, he was able to see that Cummings was in no position to defend himself and rightly brought the contest to a halt.
The last fight of the night was between Alex Bellingham and Carl Turney, which saw Bellingham comprehensively out-boxing his opponent to secure him a points victory over four rounds. The Orpington welterweight moves to 3-0.
Overall? A belting night of boxing. Well done MTK.