Five conclusions from “British Beef” – Saturday 3rd Feb 2018
BBB analyse 5 key areas from Saturday’s “British Beef” card at the O2, London, co promoted by Matchroom Boxing and AJ Boxing
1) Main event failed to live up to the hype
Whilst both members of BBB were in agreement that Okolie-Chamberlain was a very good match up, pitting two young, hungry, unbeaten Cruiserweight rivals against one another, there was much debate on a recent podcast of ours about whether it was a worthy O2 headline fight. This writer stated it was, and my cousin and other half of BBB disagreed. Begrudgingly, I am going to have to say, in hindsight, he was right. Put simply, it was a poor fight. There’s not too much criticism that can be levelled at Okolie for this however. He started very well, flooring Chamberlain in the first round which had me thinking a potential Callum Smith/Rocky Fielding outcome could be on the cards. A point deduction in the second round for holding (a regular feature of the contest) effectively ended Chamberlain’s fight there. Looking nervous from the start, Isaac failed to recover from this disastrous opening. Offering nothing at all offensively, it was hard to work out what the game plan of Chamberlain was, or if indeed he had one at all. Rounds passed by and the holding and clinching continued, much to the frustration of those in attendance and the viewing public. A further flash knockdown ended what small hopes Chamberlain had of rescuing anything from the fight. Whether he was wary of the power of the much bigger Okolie or just overawed by the occasion, Chamberlain will be left to rue a missed opportunity and must rebuild. Okolie, to his credit, was the aggressor when the fight allowed him to be, hence the aforementioned knockdowns. He answered the brief questions that were asked of him by Chamberlain, and also silenced the doubters who questioned his stamina pre fight. All in all it was a poor contest, however both are young and will learn from this. Okolie, although still young and with much to learn himself, will now go back to the undercards with a hope to push on to honours, whereas Chamberlain must go back to basics and rebuild. It’s hard to imagine either fighter headlining a show again in the near future.
2) Ted Cheeseman passes his toughest test to date
I like Ted Cheeseman. A really likeable lad, whose post fight interview made him even more likeable, the lad clearly loves boxing for a living. He has a starry eyed kid quality about him, who somehow can’t believe he’s boxing at the O2 and on Sky Sports. But that he is, and boxing very well he is too. The “Big Cheese” was given the toughest test to date last night against the Brit Slayer, the tough (and astonishingly only 31 years of age) American, Carson Jones. However Cheeseman wouldn’t succumb to defeat like fellow brits Rose and Hall. Instead he produced a career best performance to neutralise Jones, whose best days look to be behind him sadly. The first four rounds were a shoot-out, both men willing to stand in the pocket and trade. There were times when I feared for Cheeseman during the opening few rounds as I believed him to be fighting the wrong fight, playing into Jones’s hands and giving him the fight he wanted. However after calming down and listening to the excellent corner work of his trainer, Tony Sims, he stuck to his boxing, handsomely pulling away from an increasingly tiring Jones down the stretch. Cheeseman passed his toughest test to date with flying colours, looking stylish in doing so too. Whether he goes on to win world honours in future is debateable, but for now we should enjoy the Bermondsey Boy’s blossoming career as it continues to flourish.
3) The Rise of Reece Bellotti
Another class act in and out of the ring, Watford lad Reece Bellotti retained his Commonwealth Featherweight title last night with a sensational stoppage victory over the game Ben Jones. Bellotti was once again impressive throughout and seems to get better every time I watch him. Carrying ferocious power for a Featherweight, he troubled Jones throughout, especially when targeting the body of his older challenger. The finish was stunning, flooring Jones with a viscous right hand. A fitting accumulation of his controlled aggression throughout, this was another good night at the office for the Jim McDonnell trained fighter. I’d personally like to see him target the winner of the British title fight between Ryan Walsh and Isaac Lowe (contested on the Eubank-Groves undercard on 17th Feb). On this showing I firmly believe he’s more than a match for any British Featherweight currently. Not the finished article by any means, but so far so good for Bellotti. He’s certainly a fighter on the rise, and the big puncher continues to get better with every contest. British/European honours surely await.
4) The momentum of Felix Cash
Another fighter is on the rise, London middleweight Cash is starting to make a name for himself after a frustrating start to his pro career. Felix is picking up both wins and momentum and looking impressive in doing so. Clearly benefiting from starting to have regular fights, the Tony Sim’s trained fighter scored an impressive stoppage victory against the durable James Heginimana in the opening fight of Sky Sports’ live coverage. Following hot on the heels of Cash’s first round stoppage victory in December against Greg O’Neill, the dismantling of Heginimana was equally as spectacular for the stylish middleweight. Demonstrating heavy power and superb shot selection throughout this dominant performance, Cash was particularly successful when targeting the body. Last night’s victory takes him to 8-0 and Felix must continue to fight regularly in 2018 to build on the momentum gained recently. Domestic titles must be the target for the stylish and heavy hitting middleweight by the end of 2018.
5) Brilliant Buatsi shines again
Joshua Buatsi put in another masterful performance last night, stopping Jordan Joseph at the O2. A “step up” on paper for the former Olympian, Buatsi made light work of Joseph, a former Southern Area challenger who came into the ring with a winning record. Although it’s hard to judge Buatsi completely against this level of opponent, the potential he has is clear to see and only the harshest cynic would contest that this is a fighter with a very bright future indeed. A classy, powerful operator, it is hard to see too many flaws in Buatsi’s game, with his calm, measured approach coupled with real punching power proving to be too much for the brave challenger. In my opinion Buatsi has gone relatively under the radar in comparison to some of the other Matchroom Olympians (specifically Okolie and Kelly) since turning over, however performances like last night’s must surely this is about to change. Surely the time is fast approaching for Josh Buatsi to be stepped up into more meaningful contests, with an assault on the thriving British Light-Heavyweight scene by the end of 2018 a tantalising prospect. It’s hard to not get carried away and fully onboard the Buatsi hype train, even this early in his career, and fighting the likes of Burton, Buglioni, Johnson and Yarde in some real mouth-watering domestic clashes should soon be high on the agenda.