MOV­ING ON UP

Match­room show off their next gen­er­a­tion of tal­ent

Boxing News - - Contents - De­clan Tay­lor RING­SIDE

Some top UK prospects make a splash at the fa­mous old York Hall venue

MATCH­ROOM raised the cur­tain on their new sea­son with a NXTGEN show at York Hall which sug­gests they will have plenty to look for­ward to over the next 10 months. While there are some huge events in store for their more es­tab­lished stars like An­thony Joshua, Tony Bellew and Kell Brook over the com­ing cam­paign, the young guns are fit and fir­ing too.

In the nom­i­nal main event, Rio Olympian Joshua Bu­atsi made it two stop­pages from two as he swept aside the tough yet crude Baptiste Casteg­naro inside five rounds. There are high hopes for Bu­atsi, still just 24, but he was al­ways go­ing to strug­gle to look good against his French op­po­nent, who in­sisted on us­ing his head and fell in be­hind ev­ery right hand he threw. But, for the most part, it was one-way traf­fic, with Bu­atsi show­ing that he’s happy to have a tear-up when his boxing skills are not nec­es­sar­ily re­quired.

The Ghana-born star, how­ever, did make use of his pun­ish­ing jab oc­ca­sion­ally, and it looks like the sort of punch ca­pa­ble of lead­ing him to ti­tles. But he did get lucky at the end of the third when he clearly landed punches af­ter the bell, for which referee Kieran Mccann gave him a tick­ing off.

Mccann might have ac­tu­ally stepped in sooner with the pun­ish­ment to­wards the end of the fourth reach­ing dan­ger­ous lev­els for the clearly ex­hausted Casteg­naro. In the end, af­ter so much trauma to the head, it was a left hand to the body which closed the show af­ter 1-06 of the fifth and penul­ti­mate round. Now Bu­atsi, who is work­ing un­der Joshua’s AJ Boxing um­brella, is look­ing to keep busy. “I aim to be out in early Oc­to­ber and then on Joshua’s un­der­card [on Oc­to­ber 28]. The jour­ney con­tin­ues.”

In ar­guably the most sig­nif­i­cant en­counter of the evening, Jake Ball got his quest for ti­tles rolling again with a gutsy 10-round points win over the pre­vi­ously un­beaten Joe Sher­riff.

Af­ter a tense open­ing round, Ball

floored his fel­low south­paw with a back­hand to the body in the sec­ond, but Sher­riff, des­per­ately suck­ing in air, com­posed him­self to con­tinue. He was then dropped again by Ball, who could smell an early fin­ish, but Sher­riff showed in­cred­i­ble heart to hold on un­til the end of the round as the fight well and truly ig­nited.

Sher­riff, of Coven­try, had his mo­ments too, and caught Ball with a se­ries of left hands from his south­paw stance, but the Sur­rey man swal­lowed them and stuck to task. Even­tu­ally, referee Jeff Hinds gave it 97-94 to Ball, who has now won three on the spin since his shock firstround stop­page loss at the hands of JJ Mcdon­agh in Novem­ber. In one of the more thrilling vic­to­ries,

Conor Benn earned his third straight stop­page win when he tore through the pre­vi­ously un­de­feated Kane Baker, of Birm­ing­ham. The vis­i­tor made an en­thu­si­as­tic start but the Il­ford man had other ideas, club­bing Baker with a huge right hand which sent him stum­bling back onto the ropes. Al­though he man­aged to stay on his feet, it looked as though the dam­age was done.

Baker had a point de­ducted early in the sec­ond round when Mr Hinds spot­ted a bla­tant head­butt, but it mat­tered lit­tle. Benn, un­per­turbed by the foul, con­nected with a left hand which dazed Baker and sent him to the can­vas with a cross on the fol­low up. Mr Hinds waved it off af­ter 1-08 of the sec­ond. It had been sched­uled for six.

Benn said: “It’s all learn­ing. I’m a novice and I’m get­ting there. I was a bit ner­vous be­fore this one, to be fight­ing at York Hall. Now I wish I could fight here more.”

Joe Cor­dina also pro­duced a daz­zling stop­page in his bout against Devon’s

Jamie Speight, who was van­quished in just 148 sec­onds. Speight, who chal­lenged for the South­ern Area ti­tle at ban­tamweight just 18 months ago, could not han­dle the size of Cor­dina, who weighed in just over the light­weight limit.

As such, Mr Hinds put a stop to the sixround con­test af­ter 2-28 of the first.

Wok­ing­ham mid­dleweight Felix Cash also en­joyed an early night, forc­ing Mr Hinds to step in af­ter 2-15 of the first of a sched­uled six rounds af­ter bat­ter­ing Palma’s Fer­nando Here­dia.

Ted Cheese­man’s bout also fin­ished inside the dis­tance, but that was only af­ter Ital­ian op­po­nent Francesco Lezzi, who was dropped in the sec­ond, de­cided to push referee Mccann and get him­self dis­qual­i­fied af­ter 1-30 of the third.

One man who failed to carry on his im­pres­sive stop­page streak, how­ever, was Cor­dina’s fel­low Olympian Lawrence

Okolie, who was taken the six-round dis­tance by tough Blaise Men­douo.

Stoke New­ing­ton res­i­dent Okolie had to soak up some pun­ish­ment of his own, but did floor Men­douo in the fourth round, which added gloss to Mr Mccann’s 59-54 score­card in favour of Lawrence.

Es­sex’s Danny Dignum reg­is­tered a solid points win over Lewis “Poochi”

van Poetsch of Glouces­ter­shire, thanks to Mr Mccann’s 40-36 score, while debu­tant Wil­liam “666” Web­ber, also of Es­sex, kicked off his ca­reer with a 40-36 win over Rochester’s Sonny

Whit­ing in their mid­dleweight four-rounder, also over­seen by Mr Mccann.

Pro­moter Ed­die Hearn, who counted Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ter Colin Far­rell among his guests for the evening, was well pleased. “I think one of th­ese, here at York Hall was a great way to get our sea­son go­ing,” he said. “Th­ese lads are the fu­ture of Bri­tish boxing and you got a glimpse of why tonight.”

THE VER­DICT

All the house fight­ers win, but only a few do it in style.

Pho­tos: PHILIP SHARKEY/MATCH­ROOM

HARD TO LOOK GOOD: Casteg­naro [right] is an awk­ward op­po­nent for the skilled Bu­atsi

HAV­ING A BALL: Jake cracks Sher­riff with a right hand

SHINING STAR­LETS: Cor­dina [left, on right] deals with Speight in dou­ble-quick time, while Benn [right, on left] en­joys his first York Hall out­ing, against Baker

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