Anthony Yarde headlined the first Queensbury Promotions card of 2019 and secured a “xxx” victory over Travis Reeves to round of a thrilling night at the Royal Albert Hall. Topping the card in his 18th professional fight, Yarde has promised to gatecrash the world scene throughout the calendar year. The quality of his opponents will need to take a significant step up if that is to be the case but Yarde got the job done without ever looking troubled.
Defending his WBO Inter-Continental for the fifth time and with the promise of being mandated to face Sergey Kovalev, there was plenty on the line for Hackney’s very own. The final fight of a thoroughly entertaining card, Yarde was the man trusted to end the night on a high but he didn’t exactly start off in explosive fashion.
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Standing dominant from the centre of the ring there could be no doubt as to who was in charge of proceedings. All that was missing were some punches, very few were thrown in the first round with Yarde seemingly tentative to test out the resistance of his opponent.
The second round saw Yarde begin to push with an accurate right hook catching Reeves off balance, wobbling the legs. That success seemed to spur the 27 year old on, going forward with relaxed hands and firing away with that pawing left jab. All the while continually searching for openings to unload fatiguing punches to the kidneys of Reeves.
Reeves, a former world title challenger, looked in good physique both on the scales and in the ring but Yarde was establishing physical superiority. Jumping forward with urgency, Yarde landed a one-two to keep Reeves on his toes before the American responded with a flurry of searching jabs. A firm jab caught Reeves as the pair came out of a clinch, the 38 year old was starting to feel the weight of Yarde’s punches.
Despite that significant age disadvantage, if you can call it that, Reeves had arrived with a genuine belief that he could win and was firing in shots of his own to ensure Yarde didn’t have it all his own way. A clear second best, mind. Given the level of criticism being levelled at Yarde over the course of 2018 you’d imagine he’d have liked to send a statement by getting rid of his opponent as quickly as possible. No such approach materialised with the WBO #1 working his way through the motions, at a timid pace, with no real bite or ferocity.
The unbeaten prospect was landing some good shots, really nice hooks slammed into the body of Reeves, but there was an urgency lacking and, for me, that’s been missing from his last three, four bouts. The stoppage came, however, as a result of a supremely timed uppercut followed by a bouncing right hook. The legs wobbled as Yarde wound up and it was only a couple more shots before the referee called a halt to the contest halfway through the fifth round.
A convincing stoppage in a performance where Yarde never looked out of his comfort zone but, frankly, that is something we’re going to need to see. We need to see Yarde tested because, until we do, we will never know just how good he can be.
Chris Jenkins opened up the televised broadcast by upsetting the odds and defeating Johnny Garton to claim the British welterweight title.
Jenkins, stepping up in weight, made the smoother start as he rolled the shoulders and dipped the posture out of the reach of Garton. Living up to his “Rok’n’Rolla” nickname, the challenger kept on moving, navigating the ring in circles and keeping the upper body in continual movement. He landed the better shots in the early stages with a doubled-up jab earning him the nod in opening exchanges.
The third round saw a spark click within the champion as he sought to apply some pressure for the first time in the contest. Looking younger than his previous contest, against Gary Corcoran, there was a maturity to the work of Garton when he imposed his physicality with some strong body shots.
Having found momentary success at the quarter mark of the contest, the fourth round saw more tit-for-tat action but Garton landed the more eye-catching work. A combination of hooks at the centre of the ring followed up, twenty seconds later, by a pouncing right hand were the highlights as the contest began to warm up.
A fight fought at a relatively tepd pace seemed to go quite fast and the fifth round crept up relatively quickly. It was the challenger who found himself on the front foot, edging forwards and nipping away at the champion’s territory. Landing semi-regularly with a well-timed overhand right, Jenkins seemed to take the round with a resumption of the boxing basics.
Neither man was running away with the contest but it was Jenkins, you felt, was producing the better quality work. A nice uppercut on the ropes from Jenkins caught the eye but a perennial jab in the face of his opponent was preventing Garton from really sinking his teeth in.
Coming out bullishly in the seventh round, Garton began to fight in that familiar style of his. The 31 year old began to relax as he bounced on his toes, he landed some strong right hands but the pockets of aggression weren’t enough to counter the continued workrate of Jenkins. Garton didn’t seem to really commit to many of his punches, failing to plant his feet or throw punches with the full weight of his body.
Round by round it seemed as though Jenkins was chipping closer to the British title – a belt he has fought for twice before, at super lightweight. Even though Garton tried to rough the contest up in the ninth round and fight on the inside, Jenkins produced a stunning salvo of overhand rights to wear down his opponent.
His shot of choice was landing with an alarming frequency, cutting Garton underneath the left eye, as the Peckham fighter dug in and walked onto many of the shots. To his credit Garton was pushing Jenkins onto the ropes and countering the attacks of Jenkins well. It seemed as though every flurry from Garton, however, saw his guard exploited by the crisp timing of his counterpart.
In truth Jenkins never looked fazed or faltered from the incoming artillery and, indeed, sapped the energy and determination out of the champion. It was a performance that, to be honest, not many out of his close circle expected but those that did were incredibly confident in. You simply cannot fault Garton, however, who came out ferociously in the final couple of rounds but he was simply outworked and outboxed. Jenkins landed the cleaner more consistent punches throughout and was a well-deserved winner, of an entertaining contest, by scorecards of 119-109, 117-112, 116-112.
Liam Wiliams defended his British middleweight belt with a bruising victory over, former English champion, Joe Mullender.
Fought from the centre of the ring, from the off, Liam Williams continued in as similar vein to his performance against Mark Heffron with skillful footwork seeing him slip out of the pocket. Again the jab of Williams was relentless in the face of a come-forward opponent and the Welshman dug with some gritty left hooks to the body.
Mullender stood his ground in the second round with a staunch high guard being kept as he sought to sneak his way into holding range. A stupendous uppercut from the champion saw Mullender lurch upwards before successive concussive shots splattered his head and body. Down he went but upon rising he was allowed to fight on. A simple step forward allowed for a clubbing right hand to crash down on the jaw of Mullender and finish the fight for good.
Emphatic for Williams, there can be no other words for it.
The vacant WBO European belt was on the line for Daniel Dubois’ tenth professional contest with Razvan Cojanu in the opposite corner. Weighing in at 240lbs – as opposed to the 226 advertised the previous day – the 20 year old started brightly and produced a good varitety of shots from the off. Peppering the body of Cojanu, it was interesting to see a tapping jab being used to set up the heavier shots to the midriff.
Cojanu, two and a half inches the taller man, throw his first punches of note in the second round but Dubois remained comfortable in his posture and punch selection. Two accidental low-blows came as a result of Dubois’ intentions to target the body of his Romanian opponent and the 20 year old successfully teed off against Cojanu with around thirty seconds to go of the second round.
A forceful straight left pushed Cojanu onto the ropes before a heavy right blasted through his guard. It was a left hook to the opened up body that set up a brash follow-up to the chin. A strong left hand on the button to send Cojanu crumpling to the canvas, a final right on the cheek finished the onslaught and saw the world title challenger sprawled flat. Despite a desperate scramble to regain his feet, he never beat the count and Daniel Dubois emerged the victor within the space of two rounds.
The best performance of Dubois’ short career, the shot selection and variation from the 20 year old was impressive and he found real success to the body of Cojanu. Beautiful finishing from Dubois who, surely, is at the forefront of future British boxing success.
Oof, what a night. And oof is a word that firmly does it justice because that was a cracking night of boxing for the return to Royal Albert Hall – 2019 is warming up to be a good one!
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