Saturday's fight card at the Mountbatten Centre displayed the good, the bad and the amusing side of small-hall professional boxing. The Mickey Helliet promotion was largely an exercise in blooding young fighters from Bally's Gym in bouts against much travelled, reliably vanquished opponents. However, there was plenty of spirited action and the match-ups - bar one noteworthy exception - were more competitive than a mere glance at career statistics would have predicated.
The first bout provided us with the exception. Birmingham's Sid Razak entered the ring with rather more sluggar than swagger. With head bowed and eyes looking beyond the contours of his muscle-deprived torso towards the ground, the warning signs were already apparent.
In the other corner, 20-year-old Ryan Davies was making his debut. The former kickboxer had zero amateur experience but he settled quickly behind the jab and gradually ealised that he could do as he wished against an apparently disinterested opponent. He switched attacks from head to body with ease and looked comfortable in the new code.
Davies' continued where he left off in the second. And so did Razak. The 40-year-olds left arm occasionally went through the motions of a jab, while his guard was formed more out of habit than any resolute coordination. Davies started to focus more on punches to the body and rarely failed to find the target
At the second round's end, Razak sat on his stall and could be seen shaking his head. That was enough for the referee to waive it off and the decision was duly announced as a referee's stoppage.
Portsmouth lightweight Garry Neale won his fifth pro bout, against experienced Jason Nesbitt. This was a much better contest, with Nesbitt using his jab well and forcing the shorter Neale to work his way inside. After a strong finish to the first, Neale came out the blocks fast in the second round. However, his haste saw him eat a big right hand from Nesbitt during a fierce exchange.
Neale was the busier throughout and looked intent on scoring a stoppage, but whenever he threatened to overwhelm Nesbitt, the shiny-domed journeyman fought back with furious intent. However, it was Neale who deservedly got the nod at the end of six rounds. This was the first time Neale's gone beyond four rounds and it would have been a useful experience as he works towards an area title shot.
Southpaw Lewis O'Mara made his debut against clowning brawler Dan Carr. O'Mara belied his unlicensed boxing heritage by boxing neatly in the first round but after that it became a much tougher assignment. Midway through the second Carr landed a hard straight right hand and used his greater size and strength to bully O'Mara on the inside.
Carr posed for the photographers throughout. In the third, he landed another good right hand immediately after which he turned to his opponent's supporters, "What a great shot was that?" he quipped.
The rounds were hard to score. O'Mara manly tried to stick to his boxing, but much of the time the fight was a messy, albeit entertaining, scrap. The referee had it 40-37 to O'Mara.
At light heavyweight, 3-0 Chris Hobbs took on his toughest assignment yet in ready and willing Mitch Mitchell. Though both fighters threw plenty of leather, both had limited success in this four rounder. They may have been hampered by an over-officious, and rather agitated, Robert Williams refereeing.
However, Hobbs threw the better quality punches and that was enough for him to secure the points victory.
The final bout of the evening featured well-supported debutant Jason Turner. He took on 'Smiling' Jody Meikle at light-heavyweight. From the opening bell, Turner expertly counter-punched the lunging efforts of Meikle.
Turner certainly possesses some neat defensive moves but Meikle disrupted his slick style in the third and fourth rounds with his windmilling efforts. However, it all got a bit much for Meikle who took the occasional breather by casually leaning on the ropes. Meikle's showboating antics infuriated certain members of the crowd who hurled various insults at him inspired by the conspicuous appearance of his bald head. Those insults turned to cheers when Turner was rightly announced the winner in what was the last bout of the evening.
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