British champ Farooq dominates over the stretch against Butcher
IT took Ukashir Farooq rather longer to defend his British bantamweight title than to win it, but he was no less impressive in doing so.
Farooq reaped the belt in just 73 seconds in September – a division record – but this time he had to travel the full 36 minutes. In doing so, he pitched a nearwhitewash over much more experienced fellow Scot Iain Butcher, making his third attempt at Lonsdale laurels.
If the scores of 120-108 (John Keane), 120-109 (Michael Alexander) and 118110 ( John Latham) reflected how onesided the contest was, this MTK main event at the Emirates Arena was never less than entertaining.
Farooq fought with the swagger you’d expect of a young, undefeated champion who’d been crowned in spectacular fashion. Performing in his hometown, he ducked and bobbed beneath the swings of his Motherwell challenger, making him miss by inches and emerging still in the pocket, where he would unload either machine-gun combinations or slower hammer blows.
By varying the speed and strength of his attacks, and switching between head and body, Farooq often kept Butcher on defence, for lack of knowing what was coming at him, or how to counter it.
Butcher’s form was tidy enough, and there could be no faulting his fitness or determination, but his successes were occasional. By the middle rounds he was marking up, and after round nine I wondered if his corner might consider showing him greater mercy than Farooq was.
The challenger hung in there and had a decent final quarter, but he was never likely to turn matters around. In going the distance, he earned a moral victory, but the night belonged to the champion in every other regard. Robert Williams refereed. The chief support, between Tyrone
Mckenna and Lewis Benson, boasted intense competition as both men looked to rebound from their first career defeats. Unfortunately, a great fight was overshadowed by a roundly unpopular decision. Belfast’s Mckenna was judged by referee Alexander to have won by 96-95, prompting outrage among the Edinburgh boxer’s passionate support. Consensus at ringside had Benson ahead too, though all agreed it was close.
Southpaw Mckenna is the stuff of nightmares – a long-limbed, hardpunching, aggressive counter-puncher. That’s not a contradiction – he pressed forward incessantly, punching when Benson punched. That initially made Benson reluctant to do so, because his own offence would be punished, but Mckenna’s pressure forced him to throw.
Benson eventually established his timing and range and started picking out some eye-catching single shots. These became combinations as Mckenna tired. From then on it became a battle between Benson’s speed and reflexes and Mckenna’s pressure and strength. Both men emptied the tank in a sterling contest that should be remembered for it aesthetic qualities rather than its mathematic controversies.
The Chinese idiom, ‘Watch a tree to catch a rabbit’, tells of a man who sees a rabbit run head-long into a tree, killing itself and granting the man a free dinner. From then on the man goes hungry as he watches the tree in the vain hope of a repeat, rather than going out hunting.
Evaldas Korsakas watched the tree after felling Greenrigg’s unbeaten Kieran Smith in the third round. Smith hit the deck after rushing head-long into a Korsakas right hand, and from that point on the Hull-based Lithuanian waited for another perfect counter which never came, rather than take the initiative.
Smith, meanwhile, piled up the points behind his long levers and won the battle of southpaws by scores of 96-92 (Keane), 96-93 (Kevin Mcintyre) and 95-93 (Pablo Gonzalez) to repeat a November 2015 win. Korsakas took a count in the ninth. John Latham refereed.
David Brophy of Caldercruix breezed past Ghana’s Charles Adamu in a meeting of former Commonwealth super-middleweight champions. Veteran Adamu was outclassed by Brophy for a 60-54 score from referee Paul O’connor.
Formby’s Alex Dickinson took a 60-54 verdict from Mr O’connor over undersized Frenchman Morgan Dessaux, while young Scots Callen Mcaulay and Reece Mcfadden posted shutouts over Nicaraguan opposition. Mcaulay (Renfrew) saw off Eligio Palacios 60-54, while Motherwell debutant Mcfadden won 40-36 against
Elvis Guillen. Mr Mcintyre and John Mcguire refereed, respectively.
THE VERDICT Whether by the short or long route, Farooq dazzles.
TAKEN THE DISTANCE: But British champ Farooq continues to impress