DREAMS CAN COME TRUE: REPORT
Arriving at York Hall we were disappointed to hear that two fights had been pulled which left only 4 fights on the bill. A small show, but good things come in small packages- at least that’s what my Mrs tells me. It was quite an empty York Hall and stayed that way until the main event started.
I was super excited for the fight as I’ve been a fan of Boy Jones ever since he won the Southern Area Super Featherweight Title in 2016 at only 19. It looked like Jones was set for big things, unfortunately things didn’t seem to work out for him. After getting stopped in his first title defence against Craig Poxton he later suffered two defeats on the trot to Craig Evans for the WBO European Lightweight Title by UD and Shaun Cooper by MD for the WBO Lightweight
Jones’s opponent for the vacant Southern Area Lightweight Title, Connor Marsden, had a record of 4 wins and 1 loss by way of stoppage in the third round to Craig Woodruff. It seemed like the stage was set for Jones to pick up the title but we’ve all seen in boxing that when an underdog gets a shot crazy things can happen.
The atmosphere was booming as Connor Marsden came out with a marching band.
As the bell went for the first round Connor tried to establish the jab but the better work and movement was coming from Jones. However Marsden was finishing every exchange and seemed to be growing in confidence- even backing Boy up against the ropes at one point. A very entertaining opener as Conner seemed to be turning the tables.
Boy Jones came out with a point to prove in the second, landing a couple of big right hands over Connor’s jab. Jones’s head movement was impressive and a lovely double left hook to the face stunned the man from Chelsea momentarily. Like the first though, Connor started to push Boy back as the round went on though I’d give Jones the round. When Connor came forward and pushed the pace he always had more success than when he sat back and let Jones do his work that suited Jones' style more.
By round four both men were trying to impose themselves in the fight but with not much landing. Things started to pick up when the two went to work on the inside, with Jones getting the better, landing some effective body shots, just as things started to pick up for Jones, Marsden landing that trademark right hand which seemed to be a running theme for him in this fight and hurt Jones again- his gumshield came out which gave the man from Essex a much needed rest. He ended the round covered up on the ropes as Connor landed a barrage of punches.
I felt that this pace suited Connor’s style much more as when he was the aggressor he was having more success. Connor hurt Boy with the right hand again in the fifth, and marched forward as the crowd went wild. Marsden continued to control the pace but Jones was having success here and there and landed a couple of eye-catching shots of his own but it was pretty much all Connor and you got the sense that the tables had turned for good in this fight.
Both meet in the middle of the ring and both had their own success in the sixth. Marsden was again landing the right hand and Jones was doing great work to the body. Towards the end of the round though Connor landed a big shot and instantly Boy covered up, but he knew his man was hurt. The crowd really starts to get behind Connor and you can see his confidence growing. He landed a massive right uppercut and as the ref stepped forward you could see he was thinking about stepping in but gave Jones the benefit of the doubt.
However after a couple more unanswered punches Connor then landed the punch of the night for him- that right hand snapped Jones’ head back and the ref stopped the fight. The roof blew off the place as the Marsden fan base went wild. There was clearly great respect between the two as they hugged it out in the middle of the ring and as the new Southern Area Lightweight Champion was crowned, Boy Jones took the belt and personally handed it to Connor Marsden. Brilliant from a man with only five fights.
My fellow Club KO training partner Lucian Atana’s head to head with opponent Michael Bassett was fiery. Looking at Bassett’s record of one win, two losses and coming off a knockout in the first round it looked like Bassett was here to take out the giant from Romania. Before the fight started Bassett squared up to Lucian which clearly angered the big man and Lucian threw a right palm which pushed Bassett back. Tempers were clearly high and you got the feeling that it was going to be a good one for however long it was going to last.
Bassett came out throwing wild hooks to start and if one of them connected, big Lucian could be in trouble. Lucian used his height and reach well and stayed out of trouble as Bassett’s wild hooks came toward him. Atana landed a right hand followed up by some good body shots, the two came together and Bassett nearly pushed Lucian out of the ring. The ref broke them up.
Jimmy Mac (Lucian’s cornerman and the former coach of Olympic Gold Medallist and two time world champion James DeGale) gave the instructions to Lucian to feint; the instructions were followed which made Bassett throw and miss. As the shot came Lucien stepped back and landed a right hand from the heavens which put Bassett down to the ground.
Bassett bravely got up but Lucian stormed forward landing two big right hands and an uppercut, as he’s about to go down again but the Ref jumped in and ended the fight. Tempers were still high as Lucien put his elbow in Bassett's face at the end of the fight. Michael wasn’t happy with the stoppage, shouting at his corner team and held back trying to get to the Ref. As things calmed down it looked like all was well and good as Bassett went over to Lucian and touched gloves but after a couple of seconds the two once again had to be separated. How’s that for some entertainment? What a fight.
Masood Abdulah's opponent looked like he was here to put on a show as he came running into the ring and did a few laps of honour to get the crowd going. As the bell went to kick off round one the away fighter was clearly here to win, landing some very eye catching shots at the start of the round. Abdulah didn’t seem troubled by this and began to showboat. The two came together and both started to open up and throwing shots, but then Abdulah landed a massive left hook which hurt his opponent.
Abdulah then did more showboating which I’m not a fan of as when your opponent is hurt I think you should be looking to finish the job as you never know if it could come back to haunt you. We all remember that Sam Maxwell knockout when his opponent should’ve finished him. In the end the swagger didn’t matter as Abdulah piled on the pressure connecting multiple shots to his opponent whilst he was in the corner, landing a left hook to the body putting him down and the away corner had seen enough and threw in the towel. A first round stoppage which puts Abdulah to two fights and two knockouts.
Kicking off the show was Lekan Obiora making his debut. In a pretty silent York Hall at this point, Lekan came out looking to dominate with his sharp jab, mixing it up to head and body, he must have thrown twenty jabs finding his range and distance before letting go with anything else.
As the fight went on more work off the jab pushed his opponent to the ropes and a straight right hand to the body dropped Lekan’s foe. After the mandatory eight count, you could see his opponent was still feeling the effects from the shot. Obiora then came forward with controlled aggression using his jab and still working the body.
I would have liked to see the debutante be more aggressive and force a stoppage as I believe he really could have and he had his opponent hurt multiple times, but as the bell went to end round four. Overall it was an extremely dominant performance from Lekan who controlled the whole bout with his jab and lovely body work winning the fight on the Ref’s scorecard 40-35.
The show was one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon with every fight having a knockdown and three of the four scheduled flights ending inside the distance and the thrilling main event between Boy Jones and Connor Marsden. Connor really showed that dreams do come true and never write off the underdog.
*[Editor’s note: I made sure Jack had a T-Shirt in reserve to wear were his sartorial style to get him refused entry.]