SHOW STOPPER! MORLEY AND ISAACS THRILL AS BOXING RETURNS TO YORK HALL
An eight round Southern Area Title eliminator might not sound like the recipe for a small hall classic, but when unbeaten Dan Morley and Louis Isaacs went at it on Saturday night (7th August) York Hall was quite simply blown away. A breathless, boisterous, brutal and brilliant mixture of action and atmosphere. This is not hyperbole- the two welterweights served up a sumptuous eight stanzas of solid action. I cannot think of a better fight I’ve seen at York Hall. It’s almost 1am and I’m home, still wired after watching. If my WhatsApp is anything to go by, so is everyone else I know who was lucky enough to savour it.
After a hiatus from live boxing at York Hall, there was even a show cancelled last weekend at short notice thanks to you-know-what, boxing was back. This Priority Boxing and Warren Boxing Management show, which was also broadcast live on Fightzone, was a welcome return to East End fisticuffs. Headlined by Morley versus Isaacs, six bouts preceded the main event.
The Hall was pleasingly busy, and the atmosphere increased along with the venue’s traditional summer greenhouse effect. Humid and excited, when the similarly 6-0 welterweights entered for their ringwalks, the place was rocking.
You could understand the two men opting for a tentative approach, given their unbeaten status and place in the queue for Sam Gilley’s Southern Area Title were at stake. Not a bit of it. The first round was crisp and competitive, Morley’s reflexes, shot selection and more accurate work landed cleanly. Isaacs came forward, though largely in straight lines and Epsom’s Morley walked him onto the right hand a few times. Louis took them without blinking, despite the noise of their landing making it clear they’d connected with spite.
Tucking up and coming forward, Isaacs wasn’t without success by any stretch of the imagination, but the volume, speed and intensity of both boxers’ work made it difficult to do anything other than gasp. Surely they couldn’t keep it up for all eight? Morley’s efforts were more eye catching and obviously scoring, and with his wide stance and deft footwork when Isaacs did charge, he was able to land and move. That, however, is not the story of the fight.
Not only did their styles gel, in parts the fighters could well have been fused to one another, neither giving ground and whipping in punches simultaneously. Refusing to give an inch, both moved their work around cleverly. While Morley seemed to have done enough to take the first two rounds, Isaacs began to tuck up better on his way in, and let his hands go with more speed and conviction in close through the third and forth.
It wasn’t just catching fire, this fight was about to burn York Hall down. In the fifth Isaacs walked onto a short left which noticeably snapped his head back with a solid crack. It didn’t stop his assault. Neither did the constant hooks round his guard to the body begin to take any cumulative toll on the Islington fighter. The work rate and conditioning was astonishing from both red and blue corners.
After a relatively quieter sixth, and by relatively I mean relatively; there was still more action in it than the whole of some four rounders, Isaacs began to get to Morley, manhandling him on the ropes. Oh so fleetingly, Dan looked to be tiring, until all of a sudden he wasn’t and the two went toe to toe, smashing speedy, succulent leather into each other. As the bell for the start of the eighth and final round went Louis practically sprinted at his foe, there was barely time to breath as three, delirious minutes flew by in pandemonium.
It went to the referee’s scorecard and Morley got the nod 78-75 which for me was about right. Two shared rounds seems odd but understandable given the frenetic speed and fury unfolding on the canvas. Morley deserved the win but Isaacs deserves just as much praise. This was boxing at its best in every sense- brave, bold, beautiful and downright addictive. The very idea of a stoppage would have robbed the spectator of precious, special seconds.
Consider that the most effusive review you’ll read this week.
Earlier on, a six rounder between super lightweights Fuaad “The Pirate” Husseen and Dean Jones was an entertaining scrap. Husseen ran out a 58-56 winner to remain unbeaten but he didn’t have it all his own way. Jones was game but Fuaad’s fast hands were the difference. A low blow in the fifth led to a little bit of a performance for Husseen's vocal fans and the final round ended on a lovely flurry from both fighters.
All of the other fights were four threes.
You could have been forgiven for thinking Kevin McCauley, a road warrior with well over two hundred fights on his ledger, was the home fighter, such was his devotion to bullying Colchester’s Tommy Jacobs. Jacobs had a protracted but entertaining ring walk and “Sweet T”’s fans were noisy and fun, but his less than aggressive style only made “Creepy Crawly” McCauley look all the better for taking the fight to him. Despite that, Jacobs was given the nod 39-37.
Guycha Muele will struggle to keep his BBBofC licence if he continues getting stopped early in this manner. His first round exit in a cruiserweight bout to unbeaten Anees Taj was his third in three fights. It’s difficult to judge Taj based on this opposition, but he has now finished three of four inside the distance.
Team Southpaw Jab’s charismatic Lewis “Poochi” van Poetsch found himself campaigning at cruiserweight against John McCallum. Our beloved journeyman had a pop and caught the naturally much larger man several times cleanly. It was never going to go his way when the numbers were announced, this is just the reality. 40-36 to the home fighter. Portside debutante Slavisa “The Serbian Sledgehammer” Gegic outpointed Matar “Senegal Tiger” Sambou 40-36 at welterweight.
An entertaining show, where five competitive fights (and Muele’s meek offering against Taj) were totally eclipsed by the main event; a fight so overwhelmingly wonderful, skillful and enthralling, other small hall tear ups will be compared to it for a long while yet. I’d like to say I’m off to bed, but I’m still buzzing.
All pictures taken by and property of Adam Thorn: TW @LaudusHimself IG @LadThorn