Upsets and KOs on a wild night in Hull

James Oddy
27/02/2017 12:01am

For a card that was widely criticised beforehand, Matchroom's Hull show on Saturday night proved a wonderful riposte to the critics, with most of the fights either featuring upsets or knockouts. James Oddy was ringside and provides his observations on a wild night of boxing...

That was the very best Gavin McDonnell I have ever seen. He was super fit, super committed. He looked strong and his shots snapped with speed and power. He just came up against a fighter in Rey Vargas who may prove to be very special indeed.

At ringside, away from the commentators and close enough to the action to negate crowd reactions, Vargas very rarely looked troubled. His double and even triple jab was wonderful, and when McDonnell found his way inside, Vargas seemed willing and able to trade. Nacho Beristain is one of the most respected and knowledgeable trainers in the world and it was clear to see why Vargas is deemed to be talented enough to work under his tutelage. The talent of Vargas surprised me, but so did the talent of McDonnell to stay in the contest. It’s hard to tell if it showed on TV cameras, but the gutsy Doncaster super bantam was clearly exhaling lots of blood from his right nostril from the mid rounds onwards.

The 114-114 scorecard from Ian John-Lewis was met with complete derision at ringside. Whilst I found it staggering, it would be remiss of me to point out that people do like different styles. McDonnell did take the centre of the ring and he did push forward to force the action. But whilst I greatly admired his efforts I found it very hard to give him many rounds...

Luke Campbell desperately needs to be stepped up. Jairo Lopez ate backhands almost from the opening bell, and provided little challenge. For every Vargas there is a Lopez. The Mexican was game, tough and shouldn’t be ridiculed, but even a quick glance at his record, which revealed he had lost six and never travelled, highlighted he wasn’t of the calibre of opponent Campbell needs and deserves.

The relationship between Campbell and trainer Jorge Rubio seems incredibly strong. Rubio enthusiastically waved a WBC ‘world champion’ t-shirt around the ring in the aftermath of Campbell’s win. He then carried the hometown hero around the ring with a huge smile on his face...

Many at ringside picked Rakeem Noble, myself included, to, at the very least, push Tommy Coyle very hard. I spoke to the man earlier in the week, and aside from being eloquent and intelligent, he was clearly determined. Add to that his evident talent, and he seemed a good bet to pull off an upset.

But Coyle had an intensity that was palpable even at ringside on Saturday. Credit to Noble, who recovered surprisingly well in his corner following the heavy shots at the end of the second round, but there was an inevitability about the fact he was nailed and halted in the third. Hopefully the Londoner can regroup and return. I also hope that Coyle, a fighter who has given us some brilliant fights in British rings, manages to push on and achieve his goal of becoming a British champion. He deserves it...

For every Lopez, there is also a Reyes. Ryan Burnett never looked in any doubt against Joseafat Reyes, but the Mexican, fighting out of Spain, was as tough as they come. When I heard the whip and crack of Burnett's body shots, specifically the left hook that he landed almost at will, and Reyes barely flinched, it made my eyes water. Reyes' face at the end of the third round was a bloody mess, yet he still seemed to have a smile on his face. Burnett seemed to have the spite and aggression needed to reach the top of the sport, smiling as he stalked his man and landed crunching shots...

Dec Spelman still looked quite raw, but ‘Kid Nytro’ arguably got a bigger reaction than local boy Campbell. A young, athletic fighter with knockout power who can sell tickets - what's not to like? The domestic light heavyweight division, already interesting, may get even more so. I felt the third-round stoppage against Nathan King was premature, but Spelman was already on his way to a win either way. A badly busted nose didn’t seem to deter him, either...

The undercard produced a great deal of unexpected drama. William Warburton lived up to his reputation as a dangerous fighter for young boxers a he uncorked a brutal right hand to stop local undefeated prospect Connor Seymour. Another Hull boy, Carl Chadwick, slipped to defeat against Liverpudlian James Carney over four. This duo were evenly matched and produced a toe-to-toe thriller that was greatly appreciated by those in attendance. Meanwhile, heavyweight Dave 'White Rhino' Allen, warmly received as always, produced a brutal and confidence boosting stoppage...

Jacob Wooley, from Charlotte, North Carolina, had an American flag on his Tyson-like black shorts. Ringside conversations suggested Wooley was being ‘looked at’ by Matchroom. Whilst the Jorge Rubio trained boxer looked like he had some promise, he was simply caught clean too many times by the wily Jordan Ellison.