By Niall Doran
Sometimes boxing can really surprise you, and this weekend was up there for one of the most surprising for me.
I have to hold my hands up I got a few calls wrong this weekend. Starting off with the action in Liverpool on Saturday between Tony Thompson and David Price shown on Boxnation. I honestly didn’t see how a 41 year old Thompson could pose any problems to the previously unbeaten Price.
Price started out great and looked to be applying calculated pressure. Then all of a sudden in the second round as Price leaned in with a shot, he momentarily dropped his hands and Thompson threw a sort of swiping right hook (which did not look to have that much force), connecting on the ear of David Price. The result was Price’s equilibrium went, his legs turned to jelly and down he went. His senses were totally scrambled. It was a case of a punch landing on the right spot at the right time, that’s heavyweight boxing for you. Although this shocking upset is a setback for Price I don’t think it’s the end of the world for him. In the long run it could turn out to be a great learning experience for him. No doubt Tyson Fury was grinning when he saw the fight, and for now at least the knockout has put a dampener on a potential mega showdown between the two young giants.
Staying in the UK on Saturday, Prizefighter the Heavyweights returned on Sky Sports and boy did it live up to it’s usual exciting and explosive self. There was some big names competing with past winners Audley Harrison and Martin Rogan being the most well known. It was to be Audley Harrison who captured the headlines when against all the odds he managed to win the tournament again, boxing as well as I have seen him professionally I might add. Coming in to the tournaments he weighed in at a career lightest and the way he boxed with such great timing and speed was a testament to this. Going into Prizefighter I have to admit I was one of the many who said Audley should hang up the gloves and hadn’t a prayer in winning. After this though I hold my hands up and can I say I got it wrong. Harrison made short work of Claus Bertino in the quarter final stopping him in the very first round. He then went on to avenge his loss to Martin Rogan in the semi final with a solid points win. He capped off his impressive night with a stoppage victory of American Derric Rossy in the final in round 2 on his way to collecting the £32k winner cheque. David Haye said afterwards he thought it was the best he had seen of Audley since the Sidney Olympics back in 2000. What next for Harrison? With Price getting knocked out at the weekend could him and Tyson Fury meet in a domestic showdown? Would be a big ticket seller that’s for sure.
Moving to the States there was plenty of quality action at the weekend. Starting off on Friday night in Washington, Lamont Peterson returned to action for the first time in 14 months when he squared off against the always tough and hard hitting Kendall Holt. Peterson had previously served a suspension for testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone and had also been stripped of his WBA title. This light welterweight encounter showed that Peterson certainly had not been affected by ring rust as he put in a very impressive boxing display, stopping Holt in the 8th round with a furious combination of hooks and straight punches. This puts him right back in the mix of the top light welterweights in the world and no doubt will be eyeing a fight with Danny Garica to try to reclaim his old title.
Moving to Chicago on Saturday night Ishe Smith became the first Las Vegas born world champion with a 12 round split decision win over Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage. Smith also became the first world champion under the Mayweather Promotions banner with his capture of the IBF welterweight title. During the night Floyd Mayweather himself was actually cornering fighters and in the post fight press conference spoke of his immense and pride and happiness for Smith winning the title.
Last but not least, in Ireland last Friday the amateur elite level nationals were held at the national stadium. Katie Taylor boxed for the first time since her Olympic gold medal. She was greeted with a fantastic reception by the Irish faithful and proceeded to impress them further with a convincing 28-5 points win over her Polish rival. Olympians Michael Conlon and Adam Nolan were also in action and scored comprehensive points wins over their respective opponents. However the big story of the evening was the fight between the young Joe Ward and the experienced Kenny Egan in the light heavyweight division. This was to be Kenny Egan’s 13th straight appearance in the the national final and turned out to be his final one. The fight itself was far from close with Ward winning on a wide margin of 25-5 with Kenny unable to keep up with his brute force and general youth advantage. Joe Ward looks to be Ireland’s next big boxing star in the making and has all the tools to go on to medal in the next Olympics in Rio and after that who knows, possibly a great professional career awaits this young man. After the fight there was an emotional moment when Kenny Egan announced this would be his last time in a boxing ring when he announced his retirement.
Kenny Egan without a doubt will go down as one of Ireland’s greatest ever amateur boxers. Even though he won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics I will always know him as the real winner of the Gold having been robbed by a disgraceful decision in the final. Take a bow Kenny son, enjoy retirement. I have no doubt he will be successful in whatever he takes his hand to from here on out.
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