What a night for North East boxing. This was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable nights of boxing I’ve experienced since starting British Boxing Blog just under one year ago. As with most small hall shows, on paper there were a couple of intriguing match ups and a lot of up and coming prospects still finding their feet. The reason I enjoyed it so much was seeing some very impressive performances from familiar faces as well as two particularly absorbing contests.
There really is nowhere else to start than the main event. The eagerly anticipated rematch between Tom Whitfield and Daniel Cope has been a long time coming and much discussed. Despite the rearranging and change of promoters, it does show what can happen when different promotional outfits work together. In this instance Fighting Chance and Phil Jeffries teaming up to put on a Northern Area title decider.
Whitfield entered last night’s contest knowing he could defeat Cope, having done so over six rounds back in 2015, and looked to continue his undefeated start to the pro ranks. Cope on the other hand was obviously keen to avenge his only pro loss and gain the coveted regional title in the process.
Both men had vociferous support and the atmosphere was electric as they entered the ring and awaited the opening bell. From the moment it rang, the boxers didn’t disappoint. This wasn’t a wild slugfest by any means, however it was enthralling from start to finish. The opening round was extremely close, too close to call for this writer, with both men looking to establish their jab. Over the next couple of rounds, Whitfield, managed this better and kept the fight at his range well. Just when it appeared he had settled Cope used his speed well to get up close and impose his aggression on his taller opponent.
So after five rounds I had it dead even. Going into the second half it was anyone’s fight and both men appeared buoyed by their performances. If the finely balanced nature of the contest wasn’t dramatic enough, referee Andrew Wright took a tumble and was helped back into the ring by officials. Fortunately, neither boxer landed anything of note during his brief visit to the canvas. Cope was bundled over himself not long after but it was never a knockdown and Wright had professionally regained his composure to signal accordingly.
Whitfield looked measured and composed in the sixth but Cope came back firing in the seventh. The see saw action had continued throughout most of the encounter and by the start of the eighth he was ahead by a single point (I had them level but can’t argue with giving Whitfield the opener). Despite bleeding from the nose, Cope continued his aggressive pursuit of the Gateshead man and it would prove fruitful. He caught Whitfield with a beautiful right hand which stiffened his legs. Hartlepool’s Cope was in no mood to let him off the hook and continued to land punches as Whitfield tried gamely to ride out the storm. After being backed onto the ropes and eventually forced down, he bravely rose on the count of seven but the referee had seen enough and waved off the contest.
New Northern Area Welterweight Champion Daniel Cope
There were no complaints and the stoppage sparked chaotic celebrations from the Barmy Army and Team Cope.
Elsewhere on the bill, Fighting Chance’s Jone TK did his best to steal the show with a truly breath-taking four round victory over former Cameroon Olympian Christian Adjoufack. The Fijian born Gateshead fighter didn’t have things all his own way and had to climb off the canvas to secure the win. After being dropped early in the opening stanza he came out all guns blazing to secure several knockdowns himself. Both men seemed confident of getting the stoppage and traded accordingly.
Adjoufack could’ve had a knockdown scored against him but bounced along the ropes to somehow stay on his feet. He was down shortly into the second but got up and carried on. In a contest that sometimes resembled a Royal Rumble, we somehow got into the final round. I’m not sure how given that during the third, both men were down and TK took his time getting up after Adjoufack looked to punch when he was on the deck. The pace didn’t relent until the final bell and there was much bemusement when a 40-36 scored was announce. Jone TK moves onto 4-0 while Adjoufack starts his pro career with a loss.
Thomas Patrick Ward and Lewis Ritson are getting grouped together here. Both are very talented boxers from the North East that we rate very highly at British Boxing Blog. Both were in scheduled six rounders that they were expected to win handily. And both men did just that. It’s hard to split which of them was the more impressive of the two with both securing stoppage victories and looking near flawless throughout.
If I had to I would just give it to Ritson who boxed beautifully with a range of shots to ensure durable James Gorman didn’t make it out for the final round. Gorman had recently taken another North East prospect, heavy handed Jeff Saunders, the distance so ending this early was no mean feat for the “Sandman”. Ward (pictured right) ended his bout with a beautifully timed body shot against Norbert Kalucza and is surely in the reckoning for domestic honours in the 122lb division.
There were also solid wins for Basi Razaq, Jay Hughes, Henry Thomas and Darren Surtees. Thomas in particular looked sharp with a second round stoppage victory. They will all no doubt face stiffer tests in the future but these early contests will hold them in good stead as they look to move on.
Razaq knows he got the job done