NEALE’S CLASSY COMEBACK
PORTSMOUTH’S Garry Neale returned to the ring after a near-four-year hiatus to take an authoritative 60-55 six-threes verdict from referee Lee Every over Melksham’s durable Liam Richards in topping the Steve Bendall promotion at the O2 Academy.
Gary used educated pressure mixed with a high punch output as he looked to break down Richards over the full course. Liam was not given the option of stalling for time or spoiling in patches to navigate through the fight.
Neale’s business-like demeanour forced the Wiltshire man to engage to stem the tide. In the fourth Richards suffered a cut from a head clash and he had to both soak up far more than usual and dig deep to reach the close.
In the first of three shut-outs over fourthrees refereed by Mr Every, Portland’s Jack Carter won his debut against Plymouth’s tough Christian Hoskin Gomez. Carter was busy throughout and used his long arms cutely to find a home for his shots around the side of Christian’s guard. Gomez landed with some hard isolated efforts and forced the pace, but the first-timer did well to work off the back foot when necessary.
Southampton’s baby-faced Jack Hillier bested Lewisham-based Swedish southpaw Edward Bjorklund en route to his second win. Boxing with a correct, sharp style from a fairly wide stance, Hillier worked off the jab well and landed regularly with chopping right hands upstairs. Bjorklund was extremely awkward and fairly negative as he held, ducked and twisted his way through the fight.
Portsmouth’s Lucas Ballingall moved to 10 straight wins without blemish as he often scored from the ring periphery to calmly control Stockport’s Jamie Quinn. Lucas was always a step ahead of Quinn, who came forward and tried to find spots to land his own work but the 21-year-old was fast and alert throughout.
Canning Town southpaw Lee Hallett pushed Totten’s Jimmy Cooper all the way over six-threes but ultimately lost a 58-56 verdict on Chas Coakley’s card in a high-quality contest. Cooper’s aggression, supported by fast hands and feet, seemed to edge the first two sessions, but Hallett fired back early to keep himself competitive. Jimmy’s punch rate waned in the third and Hallett seemed to have found a relaxed rhythm by the fourth, which allowed him to dictate more of the action. Lee, spurred on by Cooper’s distress from a cut left eye after an accidental head clash, finished the better over the final two stanzas.
Also on Coakley’s slate, Bournemouth’s Jake Gosling returned after a 14-month lay-off to best hometown rival Bryn Wain over four-threes by 40-36. Gosling won each round clearly as he beat Bryn to the punch. Wain marched in and bit down on his gumshield but was hit repeatedly before he could launch his own salvos.
Finally, Lee Cutler made a statement on his paid bow as he forced Coakley to rescue Bangor’s Casey Blair at 1-28 of the first in a mooted four-threes.
Cutler, boxing his on home patch, dropped Casey initially with two hard right hands. The Northern Irishman rose and got caught with three more rights in the follow-up cluster and was rightly stopped on his feet.
THE VERDICT Neale impresses on his ring return.
Tough Richards is forced to dig deep to last the course, writes Will Hale from ringside THE RETURN: Neale is back after a long hiatus