BIRDCATCHER

Harper wins a thriller to be­come English su­perwel­ter­weight cham­pion

Boxing News - - Action - Si­mon Euan-smith

ADAM HARPER and Billy Bird waged war for 10 rounds at the Brent­wood Cen­tre (pro­moted by Lee Ea­ton), with Harper tak­ing a ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion and the va­cant English su­per-wel­ter­weight ti­tle.

Judge Terry O’connor had it all square, 95-95, but was over­ruled by Jeff Hinds (96-95) and Ian John-lewis, whose 97-93 score­line for Harper I found puz­zling af­ter what seemed a very close-fought bat­tle. In fact, I thought Bird was a tad un­lucky to lose, but it all de­pended whether you went for Harper’s non-stop ag­gres­sion or Bird’s ac­cu­rate coun­ter­ing. And Harper de­served praise for his rally over the last two af­ter look­ing to be flag­ging in the sev­enth and eighth.

The pat­tern was set in the opener – Harper (Tewkes­bury) press­ing, aim­ing to get close, while Bird (Brain­tree) met him with ac­cu­rate coun­ters. Bird was un­der pres­sure on the ropes in the third, and forced to hold – ref­eree Shaun Messer spoke to both, and warned Harper in the fourth for a low blow. Bird was given time to re­cover, and promptly went on the at­tack.

Harper was un­der some pres­sure in the sev­enth and ap­peared to be feel­ing the pace more in the eighth, but the ex-com­mon­wealth ti­tle chal­lenger roared out for the ninth, banged in a heavy right, and his fol­low-up had Bird hold­ing. An­other right had Bird clinch­ing again, but both found some­thing for a big last round, slam­ming away at each other. At the end, both corners lifted their man up in tri­umph, but the ver­dict went to Harper in what was one of Bri­tain’s Fights of the Year.

Two south­paws scored stop­page wins in sched­uled sixes, with Jake Ball (Light­wa­ter) halt­ing Ghana­ian Philip

Kotey in the third. Kotey was floored by a left in the first and a right at the end of the sec­ond, get­ting up at ‘eight’ af­ter the bell had rung. He was wres­tled down in the third, and then Ball opened up with both hands and ref­eree Hinds waved it off af­ter 1-42, with Kotey un­der pres­sure in his own cor­ner.

Danny Dignum (Bow­ers Gif­ford) stopped Chatham’s Danny Shan­non af­ter 1-25 of the fourth. Af­ter clearly los­ing the first three, Shan­non made a big ef­fort in the fourth but was soon in trou­ble on the ropes. Dignum landed two left hooks, and Shan­non ducked as he fol­lowed up. Ref­eree Hinds sep­a­rated them, but a solid com­bi­na­tion to the head prompted him to stop it.

In an­other slated six, Louie Lynn (Banstead) halted Barcelona-based Nicaraguan Jose Aguilar af­ter 29 sec­onds of the fifth. A bad cut over the visi­tor’s right eye prompted Mr Hinds to wave it off, much to Aguilar’s cha­grin, but Lynn was dom­i­nant through­out, land­ing solidly with both hands.

Grant Den­nis (Chatham) outscored

Miguel Aguilar (Nicaragua via Barcelona), ref­eree Chas Coak­ley scor­ing 40-36. It got messy at times, with both be­ing spo­ken to, but Den­nis was al­ways on top. It was Den­nis’ first out­ing since los­ing his un­beaten record to Elliott Matthews in De­cem­ber, in a bid for the English mid­dleweight ti­tle.

Three debu­tants won with­out drop­ping a round. Liam Wells (Rain­ham) beat Scott James (Bices­ter), ref­eree Hinds scor­ing 60-54. James came to try but Wells proved adept at nul­li­fy­ing his work, and scored ef­fec­tively with both hands.

Bradley Hax­ell (Maid­stone) showed a use­ful jab and took ref­eree Coak­ley’s 40-37 ver­dict over Read­ing cen­tu­rion

Ibrar Riyaz. Here too the loser had a go, but Riyaz had a ten­dency to slap, for which he was warned. Mean­while, Jack Ew­bank (Ash­ford) de­feated Manch­ester’s Sam Omidi, ref­eree Hinds scor­ing 40-37.

Sammy Mc­ness (Rom­ford) clearly outscored In­no­cent Anyanwu,a Nige­rian based in Am­s­ter­dam. Ref­eree Coak­ley tal­lied 60-54. Else­where, Mr Hinds scored Lenny Fuller (Maid­stone) a 39-38 win­ner over Bolton’s Chris Jenk­in­son.

Mr Coak­ley awarded 40-36 wins to south­paw Martin Mcdon­agh (Isle of Shep­pey) over Ru­dolf Durica (Slo­vakia), DP Carr (Sid­cup) over Reynaldo Ca­jina (Nicaragua via Barcelona), and Shaquille Day (Bex­ley) over Sh­effield’s Dan West.

THE VER­DICT The great Harper-bird fight must go on again.

Photo: SCOTT RAWSTHORNE/UN­KNOWN BOX­ERS

SHUD­DER­ING: Harper slams Bird with a solid jab

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