Harper wins a thriller to become English superwelterweight champion
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.
SHUDDERING: Harper slams Bird with a solid jab