Eric Ar­mit on Match­room Box­ing’s rst foray into Italy

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A GOOD night for Bri­tish box­ing saw both Joe Hughes and Mar­tin J. Ward score vic­to­ries over re­spected Ital­ian op­po­si­tion on away turf at the Teatro Obi Hall.

Hughes was viewed as a very beat­able op­po­nent by Torino’s An­drea Scarpa, but the Malmes­bury man came out with a split de­ci­sion that should have been unan­i­mous in lift­ing the va­cant Euro­pean su­per-light­weight ti­tle.

Hughes forced the fight from the start, de­spite Scarpa hav­ing edges in height and reach. A fea­ture of the bout was the way that Hughes was the one with the quick­est and most ac­cu­rate jab – a punch that had Scarpa’s head rock­ing through­out the con­test. Hughes also got the bet­ter of the ex­changes on the in­side, where he did some se­ri­ous work with left hooks.

Scarpa had some suc­cess when he did man­age to get on the front foot and con­nect with com­bi­na­tions to the head. How­ever, for the most part it was Hughes com­ing for­ward, outscor­ing and out­work­ing a hes­i­tant Scarpa, who seemed to lack the fire he had shown in stop­ping John Wayne Hib­bert in Lon­don in June 2016.

With his cor­ner and the crowd scream­ing at him, Scarpa tried to turn things his way over the later rounds, but Hughes was never trou­bled and looked a clear win­ner – though, strangely, not in the eyes of judge Pre­drag Alek­sic, who tal­lied 116-112 for Scarpa. Fran­cisco Al­loza Rosa (118-111) and Robert Ver­wijs (116-112) posted more ac­cu­rate score­cards in Hughes’ favour. Tellingly, there were no com­plaints at all from the Ital­ian cor­ner over the ver­dict. Robin Dolpierre of­fi­ci­ated.

Ward made it a Bri­tish dou­ble with a split de­ci­sion win against Cor­rez­zola’s ex­pe­ri­enced De­vis Boschiero in a su­per-feath­er­weight 12-rounder. This was a fight where the ex­cel­lent skills of Ward and the re­lent­less ag­gres­sion of Boschiero pro­duced an in­ter­est­ing and en­ter­tain­ing con­test.

An ex-bri­tish, Com­mon­wealth and Euro­pean ti­tlist, Ward had sig­nif­i­cant height and reach ad­van­tages over Boschiero, but the Ital­ian bat­tler kept driv­ing for­ward and scor­ing in close with hooks from both hands. Ward made great use of his jab and landed sting­ing coun­ters, but also took the fight to Boschiero, which led to plenty of feisty ex­changes.

Boschiero pressed ahead from the start, but Ward used his jab and some quick move­ment to blunt many of the vet­eran’s at­tacks. Nev­er­the­less, Boschiero just kept com­ing. He had a good sec­ond round as he hus­tled Ward back. The Brent­wood-based boxer landed some crisp left hooks to the body in the fourth, only for Boschiero to put in a big ef­fort in the sixth. A great left up­per­cut al­most dis­lodged Boschiero’s mouth­guard in the sev­enth, and again Ward ef­fec­tively tar­geted the mid­sec­tion.

Ward con­tin­ued to out­punch Boschiero to build a lead, but the former WBC ti­tle chal­lenger stormed back over the last three rounds. Ward needed the cush­ion he had es­tab­lished, as he was de­ducted a point in the 11th for forc­ing Boschiero to the can­vas with his el­bow.

The fi­nal scores read 117-111 (Vic­tor Lough­lin) and 115-113 (Mr Alek­sic) to Ward, against Mr Rosa’s 115-113 card in favour of Boschiero. Mas­simo Bar­rovec­chio ref­er­eed.

The lone Bri­tish loser on the show was Rom­ford’s Tony Con­quest, who was stopped in seven rounds (set for 12) at cruis­er­weight by un­beaten lo­cal south­paw Fabio Turchi. After two fairly even ses­sions, Turchi be­gan to take over with his heav­ier power. A left hook al­most put Con­quest down in the fourth, and the Ital­ian con­tin­ued to pile on the pres­sure in the fifth and sixth. Con­quest showed no sign of fad­ing out, but the end came in the sev­enth.

Former Com­mon­wealth king Con­quest landed a hard right to the head, only for Turchi to counter with an even harder left hook. The punch had Con­quest back­ing away and re­sulted in him go­ing down to one knee. It seemed that the blow caused a prob­lem with Con­quest’s left eye. As he went down, it was bor­der­line whether an­other left from Turchi con­nected just be­fore or just after Con­quest’s left knee touched the floor. Ref­eree Rosa started the count, be­fore the towel came in from Con­quest’s cor­ner.

THE VER­DICT Hughes and Ward are vic­to­ri­ous, but Con­quest can’t com­plete a mem­o­rable Bri­tish hat-trick.


EURO­PEAN KING: Su­per-light­weight Hughes is one of the vic­to­ri­ous Bri­tons in Florence

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