AROUND THE EUROPEAN RINGS ON A SATURDAY NIGHT (4/10/97)
The Cyber Boxing Zone World Report
by Derek Cusack
HANNOVER, GERMANY: Manchesterís Carl Thompson exorcised the ghost of June 1995 by solidly outpointing Ralf Rocchigiani for the Germanís WBO cruiserweight title. When I say solidly, Thompson (33) clearly won the fight in the eyes of everyone except for those of one daft judge who scored it to Rocchigiani by two rounds.
Thompson dominated their first meeting and was clearly ahead until a dislocated shoulder forced him out in the 11th round. He has looked sluggish since, but it was Rocchigiani (34) who was off colour tonight. The champion couldnít find his form and Thompsonís consistent performance rightly earned him the title.
Despite his tremendous heart, Nicky Piper could not bridge the gulf in class which separated him from WBO light heavyweight champion Dariusez Michalczewski. Welshman Piper (31) decided to retire after losing his third attempt at a world title via a seventh - round stoppage.
Coming off a unification win over Virgil Hill, the German must have thought he would make the pub before closing time when he saw Piper fall twice in the opening round. The challenger weathered the early storm however and despite being painfully outslugged for the duration of the fight managed to produce some impressive work of his own.
Though he bowed out on a losing note, Piper can only gain admiration for the grit he displayed in this challenge. Michalczewski now should get back on the unification trail, and a fight against new IBF champion Lou Del Valle would certainly capture the imagination of this writer.
VIBO VALENTIA, ITALY:
Briton Nigel Wenton failed in his attempt to wrest the WBO light welterweight title from champion Giovanni Parisi. The undeserving no. 1 contender retired at the end of round seven.
Two remarkable fighters clashed in a scintillating super bantamweight fight which concluded in a second successful defence of his European title by Englandís Spencer Oliver.
Oliver is, in my opinion, the most exciting British prospect since Naseem Hamed. Belcastroís claim to remarkability was furthered by the stern test he gave Oliver at the age of 36. The Italian was actually making his bid for the title with the backing of a Luxembourg licence as he is judged too old by the Commission in his home country.
Belcastro has mixed in top level since 1988 when he knocked out Fabrice Benichou in three rounds - a feat Wayne Mc Cullough could not equal 7 years later when he outpointed the Frenchman in Dublin. Belcastro is also the only man to have lasted 12 rounds with Naseem Hamed.
Oliver scraped home tonight on a close decision. He is scheduled to defend against the same Benichou next and the 22 year old will gain invaluable experience from fighting these wily veterans.
Norwegian Ole Klemetsen pulled off a shocking win over European light heavyweight champion Crawford Ashley.
Ashley, at 33, has looked a rejuvenated force since losing to Virgil Hill in April 1995 and was possibly looking past Klemetsen to another world title shot. The mandatory challenger had plans of his own however, a fact which became evident in the first round when he floored Ashley with a swinging left hook.
Klemetsen (32-2(25)) couldnít fail with this lethal punch, and he laid the Englishman cold with the same shot just before the bell to end round two. The fight was over, and the referee rightly neglected to finish his count. If Ashley carries out his post - fight pledge to continue boxing he faces a long, hard road.
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