UK News

By: (Tony Phelps)

Whitchurch Leisure Centre, Bristol - 21 Jan.

Joe CALZAGHE v Carlos CHRISTIE. 10 rnd Super-Middleweight. The unbeaten Calzaghe has not fought for 8 months and must have been hoping for some reasonable opposition if only to get the ring-rust out of his joints. Unfortunately, he didn't find it in the mediocre Christie. On paper, unbeaten Christie, the Midland's Area champion looked a good match,- (his last fight a successful defence against the wily Andy Flute), but a glancing left-hook which caught him on the top of the head put him down halfway into the first round, and although he was up easily enough at 7, the knockdown seemed to have knocked any desire to mix it with Calzaghe out of his system. Although Calzaghe never unleashed the power he is capable of displaying, Christie went down another two times in the first round and when the bell sounded he returned to his corner looking visibly dispirited.

Round two followed much the same pattern, and the impression I got was that Christie was almost ready to fall over as a means of escaping being hit (indeed, with the last knock-down in round 1, he seemed to have blocked the blows with his arms, but being backed into the corner, opted for the canvas). The coup-de-grace was a solid enough blow however, a short clubbing left - Christie struggled to his feet just on the count of ten and may or may not have just beaten the count - it was irrelevant, ref Denzil Lewis had seen enough and so had the audience - one has the suspicion it was waved off as much to save Christie further embarrassment as much as to save him further punishment. The official call was that he was counted out.

I don't want too disparage Christie too much, he was after all a last minute stand-in for Spaniard Jose Antonio Bayon, (spelling?) who withdrew for undisclosed reasons at the last minute, leaving Christie with less than 24 hours to prepare himself for the fight, and he probably wasn't as mentally prepared for the contest as he could have been - but Calzaghe must have been disappointed with the fight. He said after the match ( I hesitate to call it a fight) that he'd 'done what had to be done' but unfortunately, what had to be done involved minimal effort, and certainly went no way towards answering the one big question that remains - how strong is his chin?

An unorthodox fighter with a knock-out punch in either fist he is capable of putting dazzling combinations together, but with 19 out of 20 fights not going the distance, his chin has remained untested. Without putting him on a pedestal, in style he most reminds me of Roy Jones Jr, but he is in a tough division, and any weakness he may have will be critically tested when he steps up in class. However, he is certainly confident that 97 is going to be his year, and last week he vacated his British title in order to allow him to concentrate on bigger fish. A couple of decent warm-up fights and he should be ready - his most obvious target being Robin Reid's recently acquired WBC title, (assuming he retains it against Pretorius) who was there at ringside to judge his performance. Calzaghe now 20-0 (19 by k.o.), Christie 13-1-1

Glen CATLEY v Georges BOCCO - Vacant WBC International Middleweight title. Catley started this fight with an injured right hand which was badly sprained in training recently, but he refused to go on the defensive against the exceptionally hard-hitting Bocco (from Benin, W.Africa). Both fighters have known defensive problems: with Catley on the verge of being stopped before rallying to a k.o. victory in his last fight and Bocco known to have a weak chin. But Catley stamped his authority on the fight from the word go and a nicely timed left-right combination through the middle dumped Bocco on the canvas towards the end of Round 1.

Although there was always the danger of one of Bocco's dynamite punches catching the occasionally wide-open Catley by surprise, he maintained the pressure and rocked Bocco again in the second. The third round was more evenly matched, with Catley just edging it, but in the fourth, Catley stepped up the pace, wobbling Bocco as he constantly slipped around the canvas. (For some reason, Bocco's boots appeared to be particularly slippery, giving him frequent problems and at times giving the impression he was on ice-skates.) Towards the end of the round, a cut opened around Bocco's eye, and when the bell rang to start round five, his corner pulled him out. A good win for the promising Catley, but some work needed on his defence if he wants to retain his title. Six months of sparring with Steve Collins might well have taught him some new tricks, but deensive ones don't seem to appear in the repertoire. Catley now 22-1, Bocco 23-6.

On the same venue was Paul MILES v Justin SIMMONS - 4rnd Welterweight. Of the two, Simmons has the most potential, and after dumping Miles momentarily on the canvas in the first, went on for an unsurprising and competent points win. The ref scored it 38 to 39 (3 rounds to 1 for those unfamiliar with the confusing and out-dated British half-point system.) Simmons now 6-0-1, Miles 4-5.

And finally, an exciting six-rounder between Middleweights Darren DORRINGTON v Justin SIMMONS. After a solid right-hand to the body left Mitchell going down to catch his breath, this turned into a real toe-to-toe battle. After both fighters sustained fairly substantial cuts, the ref decided that cuts to both eyes of Peter Mitchell were severe enough to warrant a stoppage and called it off in favour of Dorrington, (who perversely appeared at first glance to have sustained the worse damage). Mitchell now 3-5-1 (Dorrington unknown).

Coming up soon of course, should be a great night of boxing with four world championships at stake. Forget Hamed - the fight I'm going to be keeping an eye on involves one of my own particular favourites; the minuscule and dynamic little BABY JAKE MATLALA - should be a great fight.

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