Phil Jeffries has staked his claim for North East promoter of the year in recent weeks, taking Lewis Ritson and Glenn Foot on the road to great success. Ritson defended his British lightweight title and Foot stopped previously unbeaten Scot, Jason Easton, to claim the vacant Commonwealth Super-Lightweight belt. Both champions were in attendance and had a brief in ring interview to outline their plans and celebrate their successes with local fans.
As well as the showcase there was plenty of actual boxing to entertain the crowd. Jeffries is a great fan of the Rainton Meadows Arena, and it’s clear to see why. The venue suits small hall boxing perfectly so it made sense as the venue for Thomas Ward, from West Rainton, to have his homecoming bout. It was Jaffas’ (as he affectionately known) first show of the year and the depth of his stable was on show. Despite several withdrawals, there were still seven bouts on the card.
Thomas Patrick Ward (23-0) headlined on his return to the area. The British Super-Bantamweight champion sent his fans home happy with a fifth round TKO victory over Spanish based Nicaraguan, Lesther Cantillano. Thomas, who isn’t renowned for his power, showed plenty of his usual skill in the scheduled six rounder, but appeared more than happy to plant his feet when the opportunity arose. It is easy to forget that Ward is barely into his twenties, such is the maturity in his boxing presence. As he develops physically, he will probably become stronger and more powerful but there is so much more to his game than that. There will be bigger tests ahead than this keep busy bout, yet on this basis he will be more than ready.
Newcastle’s Mark Taylor opened the show against MJ Hall (0-10) over 4×3 minute rounds. Taylor (2-0) hasn’t had the best of luck recently, as several opponents have pulled out and left him kicking his heels since making his debut last year. Trainer Matt Jobes has very high hopes for the popular Geordie and having seen him box, you can see why. The young prospect used his superior reach and speed well to control the action throughout. He will be happy with the rounds under his belt and is no doubt looking to have a busier 2018.
Another man who will no doubt have a busy year is trainer Dave Binns. We spoke to Dave, who also trains Glenn Foot, and the rest of his stable ahead of this weekend’s action. Although Darren Surtees wasn’t boxing, Dave still had Tom and Joe Hill to work the corner for. Tom (3-0) was first of the Redcar brothers to step through the ropes. “One Bomb” had been taken the distance in his previous two professional outings and had joked that he needed to live up to his nickname. Well, he certainly did that! Dan West (4-3-1) was the unfortunate recipient of a stunning right hand that knocked him unconscious and saw the contest waved off immediately. The finishing right hand will rightly take the glory, however a sharp left just beforehand clipped West and allowed the follow up to do the damage. Tom and Dave would have been delighted with the manner of victory but both deserve huge respect for calming down the raucous Redcar crowd, as West received medical attention. Fortunately, he was soon up on his feet and appeared ok.
Joe Hill (1-0) had to wait a little later in the show to make his professional bow and did so against the durable James Gorman (8-48-1) ). Gorman had previously Joe’s brother so the debutant would have been fully briefed. Having seen the earlier knockout and entering the ring for the first time as a professional, Joe would have been forgiven for letting the occasion take over. Right from the first bell though, he was coolness personified as he out boxed Gorman to win every round. He moved well and kept his man at bay with a solid jab and straight right hand. There wasn’t a lot of variation to his work but there didn’t need to be. That will come as he faces different opponents and different challenges.
The other debuts on the card saw James Conlon (1-0) and Chris Grout (1-0) outpoint Casey Blair (4-37) and Dimitrij Kalinovskji (12-42-4) respectively. Newcastle man Conlon, was never worried over the four round distance and even had former gym mate Lewis Ritson cheering him on from ringside. In terms of support, it doesn’t really get much better than that in the North East right now. Overall, Conlon will be happy with his performance and the experience gained. Grout didn’t have things quite his own way as the unorthodox Kalinovskji looked to box on the backfoot and frustrate the Teesside Cruiserweight. Grout, however, maintained a good pace throughout and pressed the action to win comfortably on the referee’s scorecard.
Would it be repeat or revenge for Joe Maphosa and Gary Reeve? To be honest, there wasn’t a soul in the Rainton Meadows Arena who expected anything other than Maphosa (4-0) comprehensively outboxing Gatesheads’ Reeve (2-17). From that point of view, they weren’t disappointed. Maphosa, who boxes under the stewardship of Imran Naeem, may be a little frustrated he didn’t stop Reeve, such was his dominance. Reeve, however, has been more active since their previous meeting (on Maphosa’s pro debut) and has proven to be a tough nut to crack. It was a classy performance from the Teesside man, who looked sharp and quick with every attack, and worked the body well throughout.
Gateshead’s Kris Pilkington (2-0-1) made a good start to life under Matt Jobes. Pilkington, who drew in a barnstormer against Michael Mooney on the Matchroom NXTGEN card last year, started off in typical whirlwind fashion against Alec Bazza. As the rounds went on though, he began to move more fluidly and limited his power shots in order to land more accurate work. Bazza (0-32-2) was never in danger of breaking his duck, nor did he disgrace himself. Both men will be happy with their evening’s work.