Northern Irish duo Conrad Cummings (7(3)-0) and Alfredo Meli (11(3)-0) put their undefeated records and local bragging rights ‘All On The Line’ on Friday Night as they fought for the vacant BBBofC Celtic Middleweight title, in what proved to be an electric atmosphere in Belfast.
Post-Fight Report (Cummings vs Meli)
Both men left with those undefeated records still in tact as they fought to a split-decision draw in front of the Belfast fight fans at a very noisy Waterfront Hall.
In the opening minute, Meli had to pick himself up off the canvas as ‘Dynamite Cummings’ landed an explosive straight left hand to the jaw of the southpaw to the delight of the huge Coalisland following, that had made there way to the capital city to cheer their fellow County Tyrone man on to glory.
Cummings marched to the neutral corner and gave his coach Shane McGuigan a little nod and a smile as if to say, “that this was all just a bit of fun.” But Meli picked himself up before the count could even begin and wasn’t about to lie down in front of his home crowd on his big night under the spotlight.
In the rounds that followed, Alfredo Meli showed that he wasn’t just here to fill the other half of the main-event slot and give Conrad some rounds, like some bookmakers might have made you believe with odds of 4/1 for a Meli win compared to Cummings 1/7. ‘Fredo’ came to win this fight and went about his business through the rest of the early rounds, outworking and outboxing Cummings, which led to Cummings constantly looking to his corner for reassurances.
At the mid-way point of the fight, it was the Belfast man who was up on most of the ringside scorecards from being the more busy of the two, and landing the crisper punches and piling on the pressure, while Cummings perhaps buoyed from the 1st round knock down, continued to look for the big punch that could end the fight at any moment.
Heading into the 6th round of this closely contested battle, Meli was definitely looking the fresher of the two. Throwing out that southpaw jab, off-setting Conrad any time he tried to move forward to the inside to launch an attack. But Meli was returning with his own lightning fast combinations.
Through the 7th and 8th rounds Cummings started to find his range a bit more unloading with a volley of combinations at any chance possible but Meli was still right there, right in the pocket, taking anything that was coming his way.
In the 9th round both fighters were strangely deducted a point each by referee Bob Williams for holding. Cummings had been warned several times for low blows and was lucky not to be deducted a further point when not long after the last point deduction he landed a couple more punches that were definitely below the belt that I can only guess went unnoticed by the English referee.
But Cummings finished the round the stronger of the two pinning his opponent against the ropes landing successive punches to the body and head until the referee jumped in to pull them apart and by this stage the crowd were that loud that no-one heard the bell for the end of the round and Team Cyclone started to celebrate ringside, but as the fighters returned to their respective corners they quickly settled back into their seats and prepared themselves for the 10th and final round of this pulsating back and forth affair.
It was more of the same from Cummings in the final round, landing two big right hands that led Meli to hold on. Shane and Barry Mcguigan were both shouting from ringside for Conrad to throw more shots up the middle as the hooks were only hitting the arms on Meli who was covering up well and countering whenever possible. As the bell went for the last 10 seconds, both fighters planted their feet to the ground in the centre of the ring and emptied their tanks throwing everything they had left until the final bell rung to bring the curtain down on this fantastic Cyclone promoted bill.
The draw was maybe a bit of an anti-climax to such a magnificent fight but surely that can mean only one thing…REMATCH!!
Barry McGuigan reaction:
I spoke to the legendary former Featherweight Champion of the World Barry McGuigan after the fight and this is what he had to say:
“The rematch has to happen, I thought Conrad won the fight, thought he won it by two rounds and I’m really disappointed he didn’t get it. Meli made a great effort by getting up off the floor and showed he had guts, but I was a little bit disappointed with Conrad, he just didn’t pull the trigger quickly enough, it wont do him any harm it will improve him in the future and make him better, hes just got to get into the situation where he doesn’t rely on the one shot. Because he landed that left-hook first and dropped him he thought he could do it again. I said to him, don’t go gung-ho, pick your shots, be classy, throw straight shots and whatever but you can say all that and then you get in there and the noise and the excitement and everything else overwhelms you, but I still thought he won the fight, I don’t think it was unfair that it was a draw, but i still thought he won he fight by two, maybe more than likely one rounds, and he dropped him, and he finished the last three rounds (the championship rounds) brilliantly, but that’s the way it goes, so we will do it again.”
With talk at the start of the week of Conrad possibly fighting a John Ryder or Brian Rose on the Frampton v Quigg undercard, I asked the ‘Clones Cyclone’ if they were still the viable options for Cummings next fight given Fridays nights result:
“No, we are not interested in John Ryder, we are thinking maybe taking a rest before Christmas, we were thinking of having him out before Christmas, but he will definitely be on again next year, i want to decide first of all whats next. I’m not going to make any decisions as yet, we will suck it up, review it and just take it from there.”
With another of Conrad’s former amateur rivals Jason Quigley stating recently that he wants to come back to Ireland very soon and fight in a big event in a big arena, I asked Barry is Cummings the man to take him on should the Donegal man return from Stateside for his first home fight in the pro ranks:
“Well there’s a chance, we took a chance tonight and stuck him in with an unbeaten fighter, that’s two unbeaten fighters he’s fought now – so I’m going to give him an easier fight next to help build his confidence up. That’s the plan. Jason Quigley can develop himself and grow his career and we will look at him down the road, but at the moment, we are just going to have a look at how Conrad done, analyze it together and make a decision from there.”
Post-Fight Report (Marco McCullough vs Sergio Prado)
Chief Support at the Waterfront Hall was a 10 Round Featherweight contest between Belfast’s Marc McCullough (13(9)-2) and former European (EBU) Super-Bantamweight Champion, Sergio Prado (11(4)-5-1)
‘Marco’ won every round on the referee’s scorecard against his teak-tough Spanish opponent, much to the delight of his huge noisy following. But the scorecards didn’t tell the full story as the Madrid man fought a hard fight and landed some big shots of his own throughout most rounds and never allowed McCullough to take his foot of his gas.
The Spaniard showed some fantastic dynamic switch-hitting skills, chopping and changing from south-paw back to orthodox throughout the opening rounds, with McCullough trying to keep his opponent pinned to the ropes and unloading devastating body blows which Prado tried to evade by showing great balance and dipping down low, rolling out and trying to land the big over hand right.
The former WBO European Champion done a great job of marching his opponent down throughout the fight and was doing enough each round to warrant the 100-90 decision to hopefully put the the Shankill Road man back into title contention.
John Breen’s post-fight thoughts
I caught up with the legendary John Breen after Marco’s win who said:
“Im very happy with his performance tonight, he stuck to the gameplan against a very tricky opponent and im glad he got the rounds in as he has only fought two rounds previous to this fight, this year”
When asked about a potential domestic dust up with Belfast’s James Tennyson (15(12)-1) Breen said:
“There joking, they don’t want that fight, maybe in a couple of years. We want the fight, but they don’t.”
Also on the undercard
Scottish Commonwealth Games Gold medal winner Josh Taylor made his 3rd appearance in the pro ranks, winning inside the 1st minute as he unloaded his first combination against Daniel Minescu of Romania, who dropped down to his knee and never rose again as the referee counted him out.
Another Commonwealth Games Gold medal winner Paddy Gallagher improved his record to 9(5)-2 with an impressive TKO of Tomas Bartunek of the Czech Republic. The ‘Pat-Man’ had his game opponent down in the 3rd with a combination of punches to the body and head. But his opponent peeled himself of the canvas and started swinging and caught Paddy with a wild right hand of his own that un-steadied the legs of Gallagher and forced him to hold on throughout the last third of the round. In 4th it was all over as Gallagher produced the ‘punch of the night’ throwing a one-two that caught Bartunek flush on the chin and sent him crashing to the canvas.
It looked like it was lights out for the Czech Republic man but somehow as he crashed of the canvas with an almighty thud it seemed to waken him up as he bounced straight back up, and was left to continue for a few seconds after until the referee rightfully stepped in and waved off the fight. The punch that put him down is sure to be added on to Paddy’s highlight reel.
Matthew Wilton stretched his unbeaten record to 13-0 against tricky Frenchman Mohamed Larabi (4-6) 59-56 on the referee’s scorecard.
Popular Belfast Lightweight Paul Hyland Jnr fought out a 6-rounder against Frenchman Virgile Degonzaga. ‘Hylo’ always brings a big crowd and never disappoints, taking the decision 60-54 on Hugh Russell Jnr scorecard, in a great non-stop action fight that we have come to expect of the busy fan favourite. Lifting his record to 9(2)-0.
Feargal McCrory also made his debut against Hungarian Zsolt Schmitdt and finished it as soon as he started it, getting his opponent out of there as soon as he landed.
(Images credit: The Fighting Irish, Cyclone Promotions and UTV)
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