Brave Evans falls short against Super Skeete
First up on what promised to be an action packed night of British boxing was a stacked card promoted by Frank Warren and Queensbury Promotions. Starting the night off at Londons
Copperbox Arena was a 50/50 contest between ex sparring partners Gary Corcoran and Larry Ekundayo. Up for grabs was the vacant WBO intercontinental title at Welterweight.
It was almost certain that we would see a clash of styles between Corcorans relentless aggression and former skilled Amateur Ekundayo.
Round 1 predictably began with Corcoran steaming forward getting into his opponents face
and not allowing the slicker Ekundayo time to breathe. Corcoran bossed the first 2 rounds launching a dangerous looking overhand right. Ekunbayo tried to create space but was spending too much time on the ropes not working.
Round 3 saw the former Nigerian amateur standout having more success in the early stages and making Corcoran miss wildly. Ekundayos corner pleaded with their man to up his game and following a scrappy start to round 4 “the natural” now based in Stoke landed
the punch of the fight a sharp well timed right hand that had Corcoran stunned, It was clear the fight would be a war of attrition with Ekundayos skill against Corcorans will and rounds 5 through 7 saw Ekundayo timing his right hand much better,although not a lot deterred the teak tough Corcoron who applied constant pressure to make it a very close fight indeed. Corcoran upped his incredible work rate even further in the 8th round landing clean shots with both hands, surely earning him the session on all the judges scorecards. With the contest slipping away from him, Ekundayo showed he also has plenty of heart and determination by outfighting his opponent in the 9th.He landed good hooks and uppercuts on Corcoran who received a final warning from Referee Phil Edwards for use
of the head. Round 10 ,and the fight had been turned on its head. it was a huge round for Ekundayo who landed time and time again on Corcoran who began to march forward straight into well timed left hooks.Both men were showing extraordinary conditioning as both traded punches, Ekunbayo looked the fresher at this stage but the fight was still very much up for grabs. The crowd volume picked up significantly as both fighters gave it their all in the final 3 minutes, exchanging hard leather and refusing to wilt. Both quite rightly received a standing ovation at the end and the razor thin split decision in favour of Corcoran 115-113, 113-114,114-113 was just about fair. Tremendous contest and I cant see too many people complaining if a rematch is made.
The action certainly didn’t stop there as next up was a rematch everyone in the boxing business was relishing. Back in April Jahmaine Smyle and Darryl Williams put on a minor classic that thrilled Fans at the Leicester Arena. The now Ricky Hatton trained Williams won a razor thin decision and so it was natural both men would get it on again. Williams was the bookies favourite to repeat his win but many felt Smyle could cause the come forward pressure fighter trouble if he neglected to get involved at close quarters again. In the first round of a scheduled 10 for the English super middleweight title it was clear Smyle was following a clear game plan to keep Williams at range and use his nice skills to pick off his advancing opponent. Williams although using impressive head movement could not get into position to unload his heavier artillery and although not throwing with power, Smyle raced into an earlier lead. The 3rd round seemed to be following the same pattern when from out of nowhere Smyle was caught on the temple with an overhand right, he was up quickly and spent the rest of the round avoiding Williams rather crude attempts to force a stoppage. Ricky Hatton was begging his charge to throw more then one punch even though Smyles low left hand presented a very inviting target for the overhand right. The Londoner was now warming to his task yet was failing to land his punches in bunches and Smyle was once again picking him off then tying williams up at close quarters.It was fast becoming one of those fights that would be scored based on the judges preference for the backfoot boxing of Smyle or the out and out aggression of Williams. Round 7 and Williams had definetly quickened up his feet and also tried on some mind games, even bizarrely barking at Smyle in an attempt to turn the fight in his favour. The second fight was not as good as their explosive first contest but eagerly contested, rounds 8 and 9 followed the pattern of Williams coming forward and Smyle attempting to nick the rounds on the back foot. Going into the final round it would come down to the fighter that wanted it the most and it was Williams who certainly started the better with two fisted assaults, he was working extremely hard but again Smyle dug deep and had a very good last minute to close a good contest with both men believing they had won. Both men had a new found respect for each other afterwards and there was no real complaints when Darryl Williams was handed a majority decision, two judges scored 96-94 and another 95-95.Both men weighed 11st 13
The hype surrounding Daniel Dubois has been quite staggering, with many experts tipping the greenwich 19 year old to possibly challenge heavyweight king Anthony Joshua in the near future.Still very early days though and
having only been past the 1st round once in his 3 previous fights the main problem had been finding suitable opponents for the heavy handed Dubois. The man who eventually accepted the daunting assignment was Uruagrayan Mauricio Barragan, who had not only never fought outside of South America but had previously been campaigning as a light heavyweight.Still the south american came with a 15-1 record and was hoping to at least take Dubois a few rounds. The size difference was staggering as a 16st 8lb muscle bound Dubois dwarfed his opponent who weighed in at 14st 3.Straight away the writing was on the wall as Dubois seriously hurt and dropped Barragan with a big right hand. The south American beat the count and entered survival mode to somehow make it into the 2nd round. Dubois clearly doesn’t get payed for overtime and set about his opponent with bad intentions. A wicked left hook to the body dropped Barragan who drew the wrath of the crowd by executing a footballer esque roll on the floor. Replays showed that the body shot was very heavy and they hurt badly so you cant blame the Woefully overmatched Uruagrayan for escaping even more punishment.As for Dubois ,he will clearly be moving onto bigger things, he collected the WBC youth title here which doesn’t mean much but will make him known to that
governing body.Its hard to tell exactly how good he is until he’s tested though and thats certainly easier said then done.
So onto the main event of the evening. Bradley Skeete has quickly become one of the most avoided fighters in the country so it was with tremendous credit that St Clears tough Dale Evans stood up to the challenge at relatively short notice.Evans had of course been through the anguish of ex opponent Mike Towell passing away after a bout between the two men in 2016. Evans had only a routine 6 round win over journeyman Kevin MCcauley since that faithful night but had mixed in top company so was more then fit to contest the Lonsdale belt and attempt to prevent Skeete from winning it outright.Evans was a big outsider with the bookies but his team and others within the industry were confident the mentally tough, powerful Welshman had what it takes to dethrone a fighter of Bradley Skeetes quality. There wasn’t many in attendance that didn’t have a lump in their throat as Evans walked to the ring displaying Mike Towells nickname of Iron Mike on his trunks while Flower of Scotland played.There was plenty of respect beforehand between both men but that was temporarily put on hold as the bell rang for round 1. Both gamelans became apparent as Skeete began to do what he does best, using his height reach and movement to dominate from the outside.Evans was using plenty of head movement and was attempting to land his over hand right. There is a reason Bradley Skeete is ranked highly by the WBO and IBF. Once he gets into his rhythm he is impossible to look good against. Evans spent the early rounds attempting to close the range but struggled to close the gap against a fighter that had mastered the sweet science of landing shots without taking any in return.Evans best round certainly came in the fourth when he finally landed a couple of nice right hands but his follow up attacks were negated by Skeetes excellent footwork and defensive skills. You had to feel for Evans has he was clearly giving it his all in their but was finding the tall rangy champion such an elusive target. Skeete continued to rack up the points through rounds 6 and 7. The heart, toughness and determination of the welshman is without question but Skeetes boxing had already built up a sizeable lead by the middle of the fight. Evans carries very respectable power so Skeets had to show total concentration. The main criticism of the Londoner has been his reluctance to adopt a crowd pleasing style but Skeete seems unfazed by this and uses his silky skills to outpoint his opponents.Following instructions from esteemed trainer Tony Borg, Evans speeded up his feet in a desperate attempt to land a fight changing punch but Skeete continued his finally tuned footwork and long range boxing to limit Evans to very little. Again credit must go to Evans for sticking to a seemingly lost cause, double and treble jabs were also nullified by Skeete who celebrated at the end of a one sided 12 rounds. The judges scored 119-109,120-109 and 119-109 to a man that Frank Warren has promised will be receiving a world title shot in the near future ,possibly against Manny Pacqiao conqueror Jeff Horn. As for Dale Evans, he’s bound to be disappointed but gave it his all against a man that would cause problems to most welterweights out there. He should be proud that he stepped up when not too many others didn’t. Skeete is sure to be vacating his British title to move on to world honours and theres no reason Dale Evans cant be right in the mix for a vacant shot when he does.
An excellent card from Frank Warren was completed by the appearance of a Light Heavyweight that is already being mentioned in the same breath as British legends such as Nigel Benn and John Conteh. Anthony Yarde who brought in an unblemished record of 11-0 had already received plaudits from over the pond and had been quickly moved to contest his first title ,the WBO European light heavyweight title against Hungarys Richard Baranyi. The Hungarian brought to London an impressive looking record of 18-1 and had also been a standout amateur in his country. As referee Steve Gary brought the two fighters together it was clear that the superior physical attributes belonged to the man from Ilford. It didn’t bode well for the Hungarian straightaway as his low lead left hand and upright stance proved to be akin to waving a red rag at a bull. Still, the impeccably timed right hand that dropped Baranyi from Yarde was very classy indeed.The champion beat Mr Grays count but was soon under immense pressure has Yarde clinically set about finishing off his opponent. A series of brutal right uppercuts that threatened to decapitate the visitor prompted referee Gray to call an halt to proceedings. It will be really interesting to see were Yarde goes from here, this victory will have catapulted him into the world rankings with the WBO and like Daniel Dubois, it will be very hard to find suitable opponents to face the rampant London puncher.
Report by Michael Ward