n Saturday night at York Hall, Mark Little and Daniel Mendes faced off to contest the vacant Southern Area Cruiserweight Title. Mendes took a 96-95 win, leaving many ringside observers – and Mark Little – shocked.

There was some disagreement among the press at ringside as to who had won the fight, but I scored clearly for Little. He consistently took the fight to Mendes and while his work was sometimes imprecise, he consistently outworked and out-punched his opposite number.

Notably, as the sixth round began, Mendes seemed hesitant in climbing off his stool. He appeared to struggle for much of the ten rounds distance too, though his brief flashes of offensive work were sometimes quite impressive, they were far too rare. In the first round, Mendes showed how he could have won the fight, but from then on – it seemed to me – Little more or less worked him out. 

Not in any clinical, accurate way. But Little’s consistent rolling forward, throwing shots and working hard, largely left Mendes looking overwhelmed and throwing too little in return. In the first round, Mendes showed he had the ring IQ and boxing skills to keep Little off him and to fire scoring shots, but he couldn’t sustain that output. Nor could he make Little take a step back. 

For me, at ringside, it was a clear Little win – 98-92 on my card. You can find my full report on Interestingly though, there was some disagreement among those reporting on the fight, with arguments made both ways.

We thought that was an interesting debate and reflected the subjective judging of boxing – which is particularly in the spotlight at the moment after Josh Taylor’s controversial “win” over Jack Catterall. That was a bout which 99% of observers thought Catterall won. We’re not comparing Little and Mendes’s contest to that, as there seemed to be more genuine debate about the result of their encounter, but it does mean it’s an interesting time to examine boxing judging.

Southpaw Jab Managing Editor, Adam Thorn, saw the fight differently to me. He sat in the upstairs balcony, commentating on the show, while I sat at ringside. As with cases involving three scoring judges, we had very different views and both views had their advantages and disadvantages. It’s also worth noting that, despite this being a title bout, it was scored by the referee, rather than judges.

Here’s what Adam had to say about the bout and its scoring: 

“Mark Little did not give up, he very rarely took a backwards step and he kept piling the pressure on Daniel Mendes throughout their ten rounds for the Southern Area Cruiserweight Title. But for me, Mark Little lost the fight- and here’s why I thought so.

“In the first round, which was close as most of the ten were, Mendes was picking his shots then moving away nicely as Mark tried to trap him in the corner and stick it on him. There was far less volume from Daniel, but a crisp, clear - one, two, move were what I felt nicked the round. His movement was something which at times Little did brilliantly to stifle and score in the corners but often his flurries were laboured and ineffective at breaching Mendes’s guard.

“At points Little forwent closing the ring down, and simply chased Mendes, which allowed him to set up in a corner, let Little tire himself out a bit, score then move again. I’m not saying for a minute I thought this made for excellent viewing, Mark was the far more ambitious fighter but when, particularly towards the end of the fight, Daniel did decide to open up, his work was more accurate and more hurtful. I agree he had some weak central rounds.

“It was a close fight, 96-95 showed how close, I had it about that, and an effort Mark Little should take lots away from. Daniel Mendes needs to do more, not only to cement victories but to entertain punters. He’s clearly a skilful boxer but he’s a frustrating watch at times. Who wants to win a title in an empty room? Mark Little should still win a title and the room will be, like last night, full and fun.”

Having spoken about the fight since, the Southpaw Jab team is convinced a re-match seems likely and have resolved to watch the tape of Saturday’s fight back as soon as it lands on the Goodwin Boxing YouTube channel. We’re curious if we’ll see things differently a second time. While we disagreed on the outcome of the fight, boxing’s subjectivity remains a quirk that makes it interesting to fans – though that will be of no comfort to Mark Little.




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