It is rare that we see a card where each fight surpasses it’s predecessor, culminating with a dramatic finale. On Saturday evening in Hull we had exactly that.
Gavin McDonnell v Vusi Malinga
I hold my hands up, I was wrong about this one. I fancied Malinga to beat McDonnell as I felt he wasn’t ready for this kind of test; he demonstrated that he clearly was.
It was an ambitious move by his team to suggest Malinga and that move was fully vindicated on Saturday.
McDonnell (12-0: 4KO’s) won a unanimous points decision and captured the WBO International Super-Bantamweight title.
The crisper shots were issued by the Doncaster man throughout bar the mid-rounds. The South African had some success as McDonnell seemed to take his foot off the gas.
The 26 yr old spoke to SkySports post-fight:
“I’m over the moon,” “It’s been on my mind all week how tough this fight were. I couldn’t imagine myself winning. I’m just glad I’ve got it over with and set a few records straight.
“I belong at this level. He outworks people and at times I had to stick in there with him but I stuck to my gameplan and got the win.”
In packed domestic division with the likes of Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Kid Galahad, there are some huge fights in the future for McDonnell.
Luke Campbell v Daniel Brizuela
This was the first test of Campbell’s career to date. The pressure was on him to win in style as he was always going to be bench-marked against fellow Hull native Tommy Coyle who defeated Brizuela earlier this year.
Campbell (9-0: 7 KO’s) took Brizuela apart on Saturday evening in a spiteful and brutal manner.
As an 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist the pressure on him will be a weight that he will career throughout his career. For some it can be a burden, a shackle if you will – but for “Cool Hand” he is taking it in his stride with assuring ease.
I expected a boxing lesson from the 27 yr old and he gave the Argentinian exactly that. The length of each man’s shorts were a clear metaphor in the gulf of class between them.
Brizuela is a rugged inside fighter but with the clear height advantage for Campbell he was always going to be kept at range.
Brizuela was knocked down early in the 5th you sensed it was only a matter of time before the contest was over. Campbell was out to prove a point with a conclusive stoppage and he succeeded shortly after.
Campbell is no longer a prospect; he has now made the transition to contender.
“He’s a very tough kid,” Campbell told Sky Sports.
“He was last here with Tommy Coyle and that was fight of the year. I knew what I was up against.
“He was coming to win, has a very good record and is very experienced. For me to go in there and do that I am really happy with myself.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed with the crowd and the support I have got here tonight. Hopefully I can come back and put on another great performance in Hull.”
With the 5th round dispatch of Brizuela – who took Coyle 12 rounds, it was over to the final bout of the evening. All eyes were on Coyle to respond to the gauntlet laid down by Campbell….
Tommy Coyle v Michael Katsidis
Make no mistake about it, this was a defining moment for Coyle. If he lost, coupled with the brutal loss to Derry Mathews last year; his chances of ever becoming a world champion would have been very slim.
He knew what was at stake, facing his idol Michael Katsidis coupled with the impressive win moments before by Campbell; he had to deliver.
As expected Katsidis was straight out of the blocks, pouncing on Coyle from the outset loading up on shots. He appeared in a hurry – after 8 weeks in the UK perhaps he wanted to catch an early flight home.
As we entered the second round Katsidis appeared to sit in front of Coyle as he went to unload – Coyle countered this with a huge left-hook to the temple that pole-axed the Aussie. He staggered on his feet before falling backwards like a tree chopped down in a forest – a shout of “Timmmbeeerr” would not have been out of place.
The veteran got up to his feet but he had no idea where he was and the referee correctly ended the contest. Slow-motion replay showed the 34 yr old’s eyes were shut after impact – lights out and that was all she wrote.
Coyle, his team and the crowd went nuts.
It was a bitter-sweet victory for Coyle in KO’ing his idol. He joined illustrious names such as Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao as boxers who have defeated their idols – Marco Antonio Barrera for Khan and Oscar De La Hoya for Pacquiao.
“I want to thank every punter that walked through those doors. Different gravy, bang on,” Coyle told Sky Sports.
“I was scared to death for 12 weeks when was had that barbeque at Eddie Hearn’s gaff and he told me I was going to fight Michael.
“I’ve followed Michael’s career from day dot. What a fantastic talent and it was an honour to share a ring with him. I’m lost for words. I can’t believe I have KO’d him. I’m on top of the world.”
Credit must be given to trainer Jamie Moore for the execution of their game-plan. They knew what to expect from Katsidis as they had been rehearsing the counter-punch in the dressing room just before the fight.
So attention now turns to Coyle v Campbell in Hull next summer. Two guys who know each other inside out, they’ve sparred countless times and regard one another as friends outside the ring.
It’s a huge fight for the city of Hull and of course the domestic Lightweight scene.
Could this be a catalyst for the likes of Ricky Burns, Anthony Crolla, Kevin Mitchell, Derry Matthews, Terry Flanagan to name a few to all start facing one another?
Let’s hope so…