THE GYPSY AND THE LION: REPORT
The vacant Southern Area Super Bantamweight Title was up for grabs between “Gypsy” Piotr Mirga and Ryan “The Lion” Walker; a rematch of almost four years ago in the same venue for the same belt. That fight ended 97-94 in favour of Walker, a fair result for a fight where Mirga struggled to get his shots off. With only one fight in the years since, a four round points win over twelve ago, it was hard to see how Mirga would turn the tables on the more active Walker.
From the first bell Mirga, the taller man who looks like he could move up in weight, threw straight left-right down the pipe and Walker met one head on. It put the Londer down and for a while he was badly shaken. Eventually Walker woke up a bit and weaved his way under Mirga’s levers and into range to work away, putting some points back in the bank and the fight was even enough by the fifth round.
“The Lion” stuttered again though, and Mirga took advantage of any opportunity- in contrast to their first meeting. While it was competitive throughout, Mirga edged the action down the stretch and our card read the same as Lee Every’s: 97-93 Mirga. His first title and a far improved pugilist from 2019, the 7-1-0 (0) “Gypsy” is only 26 years old and would benefit from a defence or two over the next year to keep active. Walker drops to 12-5-0 (3) after back-to-back defeats.
After a first round where neither man wasted any time “having a look” at their opponent, the Southern Area Super Lightweight Title fight between the holder Denis Denikajev and challenger Tom Ansell was seemingly all over in the second stanza.
Denikajev, who won the belt last July with a brilliant sweeping left hook which ended the sub-par Idris Hill’s evening, is sprightly and boats fast, accurate hands. Tom Ansell, the thicker set and naturally bigger man (who has weighed as much as 154lbs in his career) was comparatively rugged and crude. Ansell thinks of himself as a power puncher and although his two stoppage victories from ten career wins heading into this fight don’t necessarily make his point, a booming right hand to Denikajev’s jaw in round two did.
The champion didn’t so much fall as melt to the canvas, disintegrating to his boots- going down in such a way it was almost impossible to see him getting up, let alone seeing the round out. However, see it out he did and from the third stuck to his boxing, making Ansell look one dimensional in the process. Ansell didn’t help himself by going looking for the knockout, neglecting the use of his jab to set up his money maker. Denikajev dipped in and out, having particular success with a whipped left hook to the body.
The rounds racked up, surely, in Denis Denikajev’s favour and he even saw that enough had left Ansell as to really stick it on his foe in the eighth round. Ansell was going nowhere though, and never gave up, but he was outclassed, pure and simply. Referee Mark Bates scored it 96-93 in favour of Denikajev. The now 10-3-0 (2) Ansell’s team took issue with this but Jamie Speight, who joined me on commentary, and I, both had it slightly wider than that.
It is hard not to be impressed with the still unbeaten Denis Denikajev, 10-0-1 (2), he has risen to every challenge thrown at him in his two title fights so far, including climbing off the deck and recovering so impressively. He uses his skillset well and doesn’t get carried away or ruffled. Sajid Abid, who last week beat Mikey Sakyi, would make for a different type of challenge and a good fight, though he is now mandatory for Lucas Ballingall’s English Title. Denikajev should be ready for that level very soon.
15-1-1 (6) Youssef Khoumari opened the show, opening up on Cruz Perez’s after seeing his head snap back from a right. The super featherweight trapped Perez, 4-8-0 (2), in the away corner and forced referee Mark Bates to intervene at 1:33 of the first. After a livener like that, Khoumari should be looking up the food chain again and it will be exciting to see which route the former English and WBC International Silver challenger takes.
Welterweight George Hennon, 8-1-0 (2), looked impressive and patient, using his repertoire to set up an eye-catching combination finish of Iliyan Markov, 6-24-2 (3) in the third round of six. Hennon’s right finished the flurry and rendered Markov unable to beat the count.
After a two year hiatus Jerome “Stay Ready” Campbell returned to action with a hard fought 39-37 win over Darryl Tapfuma. The lightweights were both game and 7-1-0 (1) Campbell knew he was in a fight. At 0-8-1 (0), Tapfuma nonetheless looks more than capable of shocking a fighter thinking they'll have an easy night against him.
Ahmed Hatim won every round of the six he and Rustem Fatkhullin shared. The tall super lightweight, 5-0 (1) has clear potential but is some way off the two super lightweights competing at the top of the bill, at this stage.
Michael “Madman” Mooney celebrated his 101st fight by giving Ronnie Mulock four rounds of hell, also at super lightweight. Mooney, 9-90-2 (3), deserved more than a 39-37 reverse to the 2-0-0 (0) Mulock.
With pleasing shot selection, Mikie Webber-Kane shutout Christian Navarez 60-54. The former WBA Federcentro Flyweight champion Navarez, 17-57-6 (2), here weighing around the lightweight limit, was content on the back foot for most of the fight, though 7-0-0 (0) Webber-Kane pressed throughout.
Ellis Steward, 3-0-0 (0), put on an assured and dominant performance winning every round of four over 9-48-0 (5) Fernando Valencia 40-36. The fight was at super middleweight.
Super welterweight Shafquat “Shocki” Khan improved to 5-0-0 (0) with a 40-36 victory over George Rogers, 1-27-3 (0).
York Hall really found its voice on Saturday and it was a particular pleasure watching Denis Denikajev, who looks about ready to move to national level. Home fighters were given tough tests down the bill and the Gypsy versus The Lion could do worse than having a deciding fight at one a piece.