Cromer’s Liam Walsh was nigh on punch perfect in recording a comprehensive points victory over California based Russian Andrey Klimov on Saturday night. A final eliminator for a shot at the IBF super featherweight title meant there was plenty at stake. A cagey opening round saw both fighters feeling the other out and coming to grips with the southpaw (Walsh) vs orthodox (Klimov) match up. In the 2nd, Walsh started to get through with his jab and also scored with a couple of follow up left hooks. Liam’s superior hand speed became evident in the 3rd with multiple combinations landing on Klimov upstairs and down. Although Klimov had success with the occasional counter, Walsh was in almost total control. The fight continued in a similar vein until the 5th round where Walsh switched to orthodox momentarily and wore a straight right and a left hook from Klimov for his troubles. It looked as though the tide might be starting to turn in the 6th as Klimov began landing more but Walsh dropped the Russian right on the bell with and overhand right. Liam went into cruise control over the next few rounds but Klimov was unable to stem the flow of scoring punches nor respond with anything that might get him back into the fight until the 11th round. Needing a knockout by this time Klimov became more cavalier but it was too little, too late and even more of the same in the 12th round barely troubled the comfortable Walsh. The scorecards were 119-108 120-107 and 120-107 and deservedly so. If Walsh does get the expected title shot, he’s in fine form and will go into it feeling confident.
There was a lot of competitive action on the under card not least of which was a light welter four rounder between Hornchurch’s Sanjeev Sahota and and Newark’s Fonz Alexander. Sahota had brought plenty of support who were keen to watch their man progress to his fourth professional win but the Fonz had not read the script. Sahota started loading up a bit to much and found himself on the deck thanks to a left hook to the temple from Alexander that silenced the noisy support. Sahota rose on unsteady legs but saw out the round and then battled back over the remaining three to take a 38-37 decision and happy days for this supporters.
Southampton’s Ryan “The Piranha” Garner was given a decent work out for his 2nd pro victory by Latvia’s Aleksanders Birkenbergs at featherweight. Latvian boxers haven’t always covered themselves in glory on these shores but this lad was no lemming and came to fight. Garner, fighting out of a tidy orthodox stance was too much for him though and although Birkenberg bravely fought back at every turn, his corner threw in the towel after he was dropped hard by a right hand in the 3rd.
Fight of the night was local boy Jez Smith against Mancunian Macaulay McGowan the fight was toe to toe for eight full rounds at welterweight. The fight ebbed and flowed with both fighters looking ready to go on occasion but the pair hung in and battled through to the end. The 76-76 draw was maybe a bit harsh on McGowan but no real complaints. A rematch, possibly on McGowan’s home turf, makes a lot of sense.
Elsewhere on the card, Mitchell Smith started his comeback at super feather with a stoppage win after Nicaraguan Norwin Galo failed to come out for the 5th round. Smith’s conqueror from his previous fight, George Jupp won a slightly contentious eight round decision over Jordan Ellison. We’ll probably see Smith and Jupp face off again in the not too distant. Another local boy, prospect Ben Smith moved to 4-0 with a points win over Chris Adaway at light welter.
It was an excellent show put on by Frank Warren and shown live on Boxnation. The crowd was lively and certainly got their money’s worth. There has been a successful attempt to engage the local Indian community by putting a couple of Indian fighters on the card and reaching out to a new market. Locals and first time fight attendees Shetal Patel and Minal Kaushal said they’d had an excellent night watching entertaining, competitive fights with an unexpected bonus of finding out that ring announcer Mark Burdiss used to play “Stewpot” in Grange Hill.