GO­ING LONG

Bri­tish champ Fa­rooq dom­i­nates over the stretch against Butcher

Boxing News - - ACTION - Oliver Fen­nell RINGSIDE

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.

Photo: AL­LAN PICKEN

TAKEN THE DIS­TANCE: But Bri­tish champ Fa­rooq con­tin­ues to im­press

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