It wasn’t quite Vegas but it did begin with a ‘V’. Thursday 23rd October saw the first rounds of the Boxing Clinic Contender Competition at the Vauxhall Colloseum. Eighteen Boxing Clinic fighters, across four weight divisions, battled it out for a shot at the title to be held December 4th.
The pre-fight atmosphere was calm as all fighters without exception looked composed and relaxed. And as opponents were unveiled 90mins before the first fight, this was the point that the camaraderie disappeared along with the fighters to their respective dressing rooms.
By 7.20pm, the Colloseum was buzzing. Girlfriends of the fighters clambered for ringside seats like bees fighting for the honey while friends and family grouped so their support could be seen and heard when their fighter took to the ring.
At 7.45pm, as the fighters entered the ring, the crowd went berserk and showed their appreciation for these eighteen guys with guts. The pre-fight video set the scene for an entertaining evening first with some light-hearted interviews with the fighters and then followed by some good luck messages from well known celebrity friends of The Boxing Clinic. The humour was good, the energy electric and the anticipation palpable.
Fight 1. Dan “Mean Beans” Hine vs. Steve “The Dark Horse” Smith
First up was a bout for the middleweight belt between Dan “Mean Beans” Hine and Steve “The Dark Horse” Smith. It’s a tough call to come on first as you carry the adrenaline and expectations for the whole night. The first round was evenly matched, they both covered the ring well but both focussed on simple 1-2s to the head. In the second round their respective corners clearly fired them up as both fighters came out with more variety. Hine focussed on hooks and combinations to the body while Smith made good use of his uppercut. By the third round both fighters were clearly tired and both started to slug it out throwing wild punches. It was a tough fight with the crowd behind their every punch. Hine won the final round but Smith won the fight by the slimmest of margins 29:28
The first of the bouts for the light middleweight belt. Ding ding and both fighters started circling the ring offering the odd jab here and there – but it was more akin to ring-a-roses than a fight. At one point it looked as though the ref was going to hold hands and join in! Both fighters were clearly nervous. The second round was more ferocious and the punches were straight, hard 1-2s with the outcome a bloody nose and a lost mouth guard! By the third round, The Bruiser from Blackrock was bloodied, bruised and broken and Young won with a decent margin 30:26.
Fight 3. Tucker “Friar Tuc” Christou vs. Dan Cappelletto
This fight was a great example of how fighters use their physique to their advantage. Christou is not the greatest mover but he knows how to get his man up against the ropes with brute strength and at over 6ft, Cappelletto made the most of his long arms. This was a fight! Although Christou had the shorter range, he landed more shots in the first round but Cappelletto made good use of his long cross and his 1-2. Christou exhibited a fantastic counter punch; in fact it was a counter jab at the end of the first round (which he landed after the bell), which meant Bad Boy Christou had to be dragged to his corner. The excitement continued in the second round as Cappelletto used his cross and body shots a plenty but in true form Christou regularly countered – the round finished with Christou on the ropes. The final round was more of the same with Cappelletto winning by a whisker 30:29.
Fight 4. Tom “ The Tank Engine” Ayers vs. Ben “The Spitfire” Sears.
These two light middleweights chasséd their way into the ring and it was strictly come boxing from that moment on. Both fighters made a beautiful fluid start with combinations a plenty from them both. Ayers defence was impressive, his body perfectly shadowing that of his opponent blocking the ferocious combos Sears was throwing his way. In round two, the fighters were so busy they both tired towards the end of the round. Sears looked the fittest but Ayers’ jab was on target and his defence was the best of the night. It seemed like there was nothing to lose by the third round and each unleashed their box of tools on the other. Although Ayers received a bloodied nose he also received the most points, a surprising 34:28
Flight 5. James “The Wonder Horse” Rowe vs. Gareth “The Count of Montefisto” Vale.
If the previous two fighters boxed like dancers, Rowe literally was moving to the beat of the music in his corner before the bell – punching his fists and moving his body in time to the music. Both fighters had amazing support in the crowd with Rowe’s supporters waving two big banners spurring him on! On the sound of the bell both fighters stormed out of their corners and got punchie both aiming for the body as opposed to the many headshots we had seen in the previous fights – it was a good start by both fighters. In the second round Rowe pressured Vale to the ropes moving him with his jab and Vale responded with a massive 1-2 – this fight was all about power, speed and aggression. By the third round neither fighter was visibly tired, their fitness was paying off. Vale regularly countered from the ropes but he was never there for long and in the end Rowe edged the fight 30:28.
Fight 6.Simon “The Baby Faced Assassin Gibbs vs. Phil “The Iron Fist” Edgerton.
Well no night of boxing is without drama and this is the fight that provided it. Half the crowd belonged to Gibbs and support him they did. In Gibbs’ corner was Dan “Sugar” Shellard, a friend from the age of two and although due to fight as well he had to withdraw due to injury. But this support did nothing to calm Gibbs in the first round as it all went Edgerton’s way. He pressured Gibbs from the sound of the bell with his impressive jabs and used his long hook to wreak havoc along the way. Gibbs did little more than keep his hands up. During the break I have no idea if it were the words of advice given to Gibbs from the corner or if it was the deafening sound of his support but a different fighter emerged in round two. Although Edgerton delivered a bloody nose to his opponent, Edgerton found himself in the corner with no answers. He was under pressure and no longer able to defend himself from the barrage that was coming his way. The fight was stopped 40 seconds into the second round leaving Edgerton stunned and the crowd silent…for a nano second.
This fight was a great test of Hine’s fitness as it was his second fight of the night and he didn’t disappoint as he came out full of beans. O’Doherty took an unfortunate stumble on the canvas and Hine with quick thinking provided an aggressive follow up as the Irishman lost his footing. But O’Doherty came back bounding with energy bouncing around the ring. The second round was evenly matched much of it played out with some unattractive slugging. By the third, Hine was in his stride and landed more shots than the busy O’Doherty to win 30:27.
This was always going to be an interesting fight with Mooyoung probably the most defensive fighter of the night. Mooyoung’s defence was so tight in the first round that Olsen struggled to land a punch despite throwing some beauties. Olsen moved fluidly around the ring up on the balls of his feet to Mooyoung’s flat-footed shimmy. By the third, Olsen’s “attack, attack” approach was starting to bear fruit – Mooyoung was so busy defending he forgot to punch. Olsen won 28:30.
The final fight of the night was fitting for two of the Boxing Clinic’s best heavy weights. When Yianellis entered the ring it sounded as though half of Athens was in the room with him. Dearling’s support was not as vocal but it was just as passionate in the form of his girlfriend Naomi. There were great expectations for this fight and the first round didn’t disappoint with Yianellis knocking Dearling to the floor – was the axe man for the chop? The real fight began when Dearling got up from the canvas – on display were two heavyweights who could move and throw a combination or two. Yianellis kept his guard tight and his movement fluid but it was not enough to counter the ferocious combinations from Dearling, which eventually won him the fight 29:28
So the first round of the Boxing Clinic Contender Competition is over and after the nine fights if there was a belt for uncontrollable passion it would go to the blue corner’s Ben Wood. From the first bell of the first fight the guy was screaming his boys on, occasionally to the displeasure of the ref! Paul Hines, in charge of the red corner must have had magic words because never has there been a transformation during a break as there was for Simon Gibbs in his middleweight bout.
After this first round of fights, I don’t think any of the fighters would refer to themselves as “The Greatest” but we could have some Boxing Clinic legends in the making. October 23rd was just the start and December 4th is when we uncover the champs – same time, same place. See you then.
by S Finnegan