By Peter Wells
Welsh Mayweather Reignites Welsh Boxing!
Last night the Welsh capital was treated to a fine night of entertainment to kick off the New Year on Sky Sports. With wins for Lee Selby, Gary Buckland and Dale Evans the Cardiff faithful were sent home happy.
In the main attraction, Lee Selby dominated and stopped former world title challenger Rendall Munroe to claim the European Featherweight title and retain his British crown.
Selby dominated the first 5 rounds before an endless barrage of punches brought the referee to intervene as the 6th was coming to the end.
The stoppage seemed premature as very few of the shots from Selby were landing clean let alone being hurtful punches. Munroe though could not return fire as Selby refused to stop punching, teeing off with a ridiculous array of shots.
Prior to that, Selby had been in complete control, boxing well behind a good lead jab as Munroe could only walk forward in straight lines, not quick enough to offer any dilemmas for the home fighter. This was by far Selby’s biggest win and while his performance was faultless, the Munroe he faced last night was a faded version of the one that went 12 rounds with a prime Toshiaki Nishioka.
The Welsh Mayweather improved to 18-1(7) while Munroe dropped to 27-4-1(11).
In an early contender for fight of the year, Gavin Rees lost for the third straight time on a split decision against fellow Welshman Gary Buckland.
Buckland and Rees traded toe-to-toe for 12 incredible rounds in a contest that will go down as an all-time great British fight, one worthy of the plaudits coming its way.
Rees began the fight, firing wicked right hands to the body of Buckland and after 2 rounds it looked clear that the bout wouldn’t be going the 12 round distance. Buckland soon found his own momentum, forcing the contest inside, chucking uppercuts and hurtful hooks while taking equally damaging shots. Rees continued to body hunt in the first 6 rounds as he built a narrow lead, but neither fighter was going to give an inch.
As the rounds ticked by the momentum continued to shift as both fighters looked tired and neither could take control. At one point it looked as if Rees was ready to go when he staggered back to his corner, gasping in air, but he refused to allow Buckland to break him.
Their wills were put through the toughest of tests as the contest entered the championship rounds. Both were extremely tired and holding became a theme between single shots. The fans rose to give the fighters a standing ovation at the end of the fight and a well-deserved one at that.
The official scores were 116-113 Rees, 116-113 and 116-114 Buckland, who will now be in line to face British Lightweight champion Martin Gethin. This contest was yet another reason to say that the 135lbs division is the best weight class in Britian.
To open the show on Sky Sports was another barnburner as Dale Evans improved to 8-1-1(3) with a points victory over Erick Ochieng 14-3(4).
Ochieng started the contest slow, while Evans came storming out of the blocks, landing big right hands behind a solid jab as Ochieng seemed unable to find a rhythm. Evans took the first 4 rounds which would prove crucial in a contest scheduled for 8 rounds.
Ochieng then began to land his own right hand; Evans seemed to be tiring while Ochieng was no longer fighting tentatively. Then in the 7th round Ochieng landed the punch of the fight as Evans left himself open for the overhand right. Evans was evidently in trouble, but refused to back off or hold on, instead taking around a dozen more huge rights before the round ended. Ochieng may have blown his chance at victory as instead of unloading his whole arsenal on the home fighter, he looked to only land the right hand. Evans’ chin was never going to be breached but had Ochieng gone for broke then possibly the referee would have had to step up.
Instead Evans came out and made Ochieng pay as he took the final round, giving him a narrow 77-76 victory. Evans will now be looking to a potential British title fight later in the year while Ochieng will be hoping to bounce back after a disappointing debut at Welterweight. A rematch could also be a possibility and if it took place over 10 or 12 rounds then it could be a different story.
Anthony Joshua improved to 4-0(4), systematically beating down Dorian Darch 7-3(1) in 2 rounds. Joshua was ruthless with big right hands and a final left hook forced the referee to step in.
Chris Jenkins also moved to 13-0(5) and enhanced his ranking with the WBC with a shutout points win against Christopher Sebire 22-7(8).
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