Dickens and Bolotniks win Golden Contract tournaments


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MTK Global

Jazza Dickens and Ricards Bolotniks took home the Golden Contract tournament wins today in England.

Jazza Dickens wrapped up a hugely successful run through the MTK Global Golden Contract featherweight tournament, out-pointing Ryan Walsh over 10 rounds in the 126-pound final.

The 29-year-old Dickens won on scores of 96-94, 97-94, and 98-93, with Bad Left Hook scoring the fight 97-93 for the former 122-pound world title challenger. Now at 126, Dickens (30-3, 11 KO) seems to have settled in nicely as a high-level domestic fighter at the very least, with his eye on something bigger from here.

It’s hard to blame him for the ambition, as he defeated Walsh (26-3-2, 12 KO), who holds the British featherweight title, and also Leigh Wood, who holds the Commonwealth featherweight title, to win the tournament. Neither of those belts were on the line, as all Golden Contract fights were set for a 10-round distance.

This was a sound, tactical fight between a couple of well-schooled veterans, with Dickens out-working Walsh for the most part to earn the victory. The 34-year-old Walsh had a six-fight unbeaten streak (5-0-1 in those bouts) snapped here, and was fully accepting of the defeat. He clapped for Dickens during the reading of the scores, and stepped away to allow his opponent the spotlight even before Dickens’ name was read out loud as the winner.

“We’ve boxed many different ways in the tournament, seen many different styles, I’ve shown I can do it all,” Dickens said. “I am feel!” he added with a smile.

“There’s nothing left for me but a world title,” Dickens said. “I’ll have my reward when I get that world title.” Dickens may target WBO titleholder Emanuel Navarrete, whose name was dropped in the interview.

Ricards Bolotniks TKO-10 Serge Michel

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Bolotniks entered the light heavyweight tournament as a heavy underdog to most, didn’t have much of a W-L record, still doesn’t in some ways at 18-5-1 (8 KO), but he was the clear gem of the 175-pounders, and gets a deserved, hard-fought tournament victory.

Michel (11-2, 8 KO) represented Germany at the 2016 Olympics and can box. In fact, here for two rounds he looked the better boxer, but Latvia’s Bolotniks just would not be denied for very long. He started taking control in the third round, and really just never let up. He scored a fifth round knockdown when he sent Michel, 32, stumbling into the ropes, which referee Michael Alexander rightly ruled a knockdown, and another in the 10th round late, when he was just hammering on Michel in the corner. After that knockdown, even though there was barely any time left, Michel’s corner waved the towel.

Michel gave a great effort here, really tried to do his best to slow Bolotniks down, neutralize him, discourage him, but just couldn’t do it, and ran himself ragged trying. The 30-year-old Bolotniks will never have the shiny record, but it should be noted he’s now 7-0 (4 KO) since moving down from cruiserweight in 2018, and his last four winds are all of solid quality, and the last three to win the MTK tournament all saw him as an underdog coming in, even if not by a lot.

“I’m happy. I will now go to Christmas, sitting happy, drinking Coke and eating potatoes,” Bolotniks said with a genuine smile after the fight. Bolotniks offered the suggestion of a possible fight with Anthony Yarde in 2021, and said, “I think I’m ready for 12 rounds, 15 rounds, 20 rounds. Just call me, I will give a good shot and show box!”

If you haven’t seen this guy, you’re missing one of the better stories in boxing right now. Bolotniks has all the ingredients to be a real fan favorite.

Harlem Eubank PTS-10 Daniel Egbunike

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Referee Phil Edwards scored this 97-94, which I think is quite generous to Egbunike. I had it 100-90 for Eubank (11-0, 3 KO), who controlled the tempo and range of the fight from the get-go, but there were three rounds or so where Egbunike (6-1, 3 KO) maybe had an argument. Now it’s certainly possible that I was generous to Eubank, maybe should’ve given Egbunike a couple rounds, but I just saw no sustained rhythm or momentum for him at all. The tactics and pace were all Eubank, who at 26 now has a shot at the English title set, as this was an eliminator for the second-tier domestic belt at 140.

“It was a controlled performance. Danny’s a dangerous guy, if you get inside with him it’s gonna be rough, so I tried to keep it clean and work my boxing,” Eubank said after the fight. “Make him miss, make him pay, and I think I handled the game plan fairly well, so I’m happy.”

“For me, it’s all about improving as a martial artist, and the last two fights have been against young lions that are gonna test you,” he added. “These are the fights I need to progress my career and keep improving as a martial artist.”

Eubank still has more name than game to his credit, but this was a strong performance. Egbunike, 31 — not that young a lion, to be honest — had major issues figuring out an opponent who had a game plan and could stick to it. He struggled to find the right range all night, struggled with Eubank’s footwork, got slowed down and never quite figured it out.

Undercard Results

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  • Adam Azim PTS-6 Ed Harrison: Azim makes a successful pro debut, sweeping the card against Harrison (2-5, 0 KO), who has had a couple of upsets of unbeaten prospects this year. We’re gonna see a lot of Ed Harrison fights in the years to come. He’s going to have an awful record and constantly be competent against prospects. Azim is a lightweight from Slough, another guy you should expect to see regularly from here.
  • James McGivern PTS-6 Jordan Ellison: Bewlfast lightweight McGivern, a southpaw, goes to 2-0 (0 KO) with a 60-53 win here, scoring a second round knockdown. Had it come earlier in the round, he might have gotten Ellison (11-31-2, 1 KO) out of there, but Ellison survived the round and the rest of the fight.
  • Fearghus Quinn PTS-6 Scott James: The night’s first sweep. No drama on the prelims. Quinn (2-0, 0 KO) is a 24-year-old Irish middleweight, another southpaw, and had no problem with James (6-7-1, 0 KO), a 29-year-old nicknamed “Brick Top.” Just trying to find a few things to say about these fights.

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