By Peter Wells
Rocky Stories All Round In Hull On Saturday
In such a hard sport, fairy tale stories are always welcome and in Hull last night Curtis Woodhouse bowed out in fairy tale fashion, winning the British Light Welterweight title, finalising the dream he had come in with when he swapped the glamour of football for the blood, sweat and tears of boxing.
Woodhouse took the title from Darren Hamilton via split decision in an up-and-down battle that had the crowd on its feet from start to finish. Hamilton tried hard to find a rhythm but Woodhouse dragged him into a contest that didn’t suit his slick style. Arguments for both fighters could be put forward without dispute, every round proved as hard to score for everyone watching as it was for the two warriors in the ring.
Hamilton started the opener well, but the pace of the bout soon changed as Woodhouse was able to back the favourite onto the ropes. Hamilton still had the better of the action in the early stages, landing the cleaner jabs through some scrappy exchanges. As the fight dragged into the middle rounds the war of wills began, round after round past by with no significant punches to rave about but the pure intensity and brutality made for an extremely entertaining encounter.
Hamilton tried to find his range again in the championship rounds, but Woodhouse just kept piling forward, taking rounds on work rate and aggression alone.
In the final round, Woodhouse landed a huge right hand to send Hamilton 14-3(3) onto his heels, the champion tried to respond but it was the inspired Woodhouse who ended on top.
The final scores were 116-115 and 116-114 to Woodhouse, while one judge gave it to Hamilton, 116-113. I scored 116-114 to Hamilton.
In the post-fight interview after being asked if when he first turned pro that he had bet on himself to win a British title – Woodhouse apparently wagered £5000 on 50/1 odds – Woodhouse 22-6(13) replied “the drinks are on me!”
At first there was scepticism around Woodhouse leaving football for boxing, he was laughed at for even suggesting it, but Woodhouse did what he had to do, he proved himself in the ring. Curits Woodhouse had the last laugh.
While Woodhouse-Hamilton was a great, exhilarating fight, it didn’t quite match the drama in the main event between Tommy Coyle and Daniel Brizuela.
Coyle came through 4 knockdowns and several point deductions to stop Brizuela in the final round of possibly the fight of the year.
Coyle was dropped by a big right hand in the 2nd round, but not too shaken was able to finish the round well and came back into the fight in the next few rounds. Coyle kept working but Brizuela looked a solid veteran who then came to life in the 6th when he twice dropped the hometown fighter with sickening lefts to the body. Both times it was utterly incredible that Coyle was able to beat the count and then carry on for another minute.
The drama only heightened in the second half of the contest as it looked as if Brizuela had used up all his remaining energy. Repeated low blows from Coyle finally saw the referee dock a point off the favourite in the 8th, but in that exact round, Coyle evened up the score with an incredible right hand, sending the Argentinian to the canvas.
Brizuela was then harshly deducted a point in the next round for a low blow, before suffering a cut over his left eye in the 10th as things seemed to be unravelling for the away fighter.
Then in the round of the night and the round of the year thus far, Coyle was dropped early in the 11th by another spiteful left hook to the rib cage. Yet again Coyle dragged himself from the canvas and back into the action. Then amazingly, like a scene out of a Hollywood blockbuster, Coyle landed a highlight reel right hand over the top, sending Brizuela crashing to the canvas and looking unsteady. On the brink of being stopped, Coyle had turned the fight around and a barrage of shots sent Brizuela to the mat for the 3rd time. Just as Coyle was looking to finish his rival in stunning fashion, his over eagerness saw him deducted another point for hitting on the break.
Into the 12th round, both came out hoping to steal the win, with the respective corners flabbergasted as to how the fight was being scored. The judges will have been mighty relieved when Coyle once again forced Brizuela to the canvas. The Argentine warrior rose at 6, but was very harshly deemed unable to continue as Steve Gray controversially waved off the contest.
While Brizuela deserved to hear the final bell and he deserves immense credit himself for his performance, it was the bravery and pure willpower of Coyle that received the most plaudits.
Coyle further enhanced the respect he had earned in the ring, in the post-fight interview as he credited Brizuela and said that he believed he should have been allowed to carry on to hear the final bell.
In a sensational opening contest, Gavin McDonnell stopped Leigh Wood in the 6th round to claim the vacant British Super Bantamweight title.
Wood had found himself on the canvas in a competitive opening round, although it should have been ruled a slip rather than a knockdown. Still Wood ended the round on top, dominating McDonnell who started slowly on the back foot.
In the 2nd round, Wood was in complete control as he pounded Jamie McDonnell’s twin brother both to the head and body. Wood 11-1(4) couldn’t miss his target as McDonnell looked in trouble but he lacked the power to put the favourite on the floor. He continued to control the action in the next few rounds but it was clear that McDonnell was finding his way into the contest. Wood was no longer on the front foot and Gavin’s defences were improving.
In the 6th round, McDonnell 11-0-1(4) caught Wood with a solid punch and never let the Ingle fighter off the hook as he poured it on. With Wood’s head rolling from almost all of McDonnell’s punches and also not returning fire, the referee finally stepped in to stop the beating. Wood will feel vastly disappointed after a great start to the contest, but he should learn from the experience, the most important lesson will be to hold or take a knee when in serious trouble.
Finally Luke Campbell became the first man to stop the inspiring Scott Moises, finishing him in the 8th and final round, further presenting the remarkable promise the Olympic Gold Medallist has.
This whole card could possibly receive several awards for its individual fights and fighters, but there is one award that this boxing event at the Ice Arena in Hull deserves; the show of the year.
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