Making the first defence of his IBF World Heavyweight title, Anthony Joshua, 26, put in a solid, dominant performance to see off the stubborn challenge of American Dominic Breazeale.
In front of his home fans, at the O2 Arena in London, on a Matchroom Boxing promotion, we saw a mature performance capped by a stunning finish.
The opener was a pretty quiet affair, a scouting mission, with the champion looking to get his range. The second saw the champion fight with a bit more urgency and a big right uppercut staggered the American across the ring and to the ropes, the referee, for some unknown reason, getting in the way of a potential follow-up. Breazeale’s right eye was swelling badly and in the third, more thudding left jabs got home from Joshua, the two exchanged blows on the ropes – the champions better accuracy and speed meaning he always came out on top.
The fourth was another clear round from the Watford man, showing some nice counter left hooks and controlling the action. Breazeale, 30, to his credit was absorbing some heavy shots. The fifth round was clinical and fully effective – everything from Joshua solid – the ramrod jab, hook and straight right hand.
The sixth round, Joshua breaking his battered-looking opponent. Picking his man off with shots.
The seventh round, Breazeale got off with a couple of shots and was met with firepower and then driven towards the ropes and dropped. He beat the count and then was battered across to the corner; a final thudding barrage and he was down and out.
The American challenger had shown heart and durability, all credit to him but this proved to be about levels and Joshua looked comfortable and dominated.
Joshua upped his perfect record to 17-0, 17 KO’s, Dominic Breazeale tasted defeat for the first time and is now 17-1, 15 KOs.
George Groves and Martin Murray crossed swords in a contest for the WBA International super middleweight title. The fight was highly anticipated with ‘St. George’ coming out on top in a compelling contest.
The first two rounds were quiet. Murray defensive and, for the most part, on the backfoot. Some infighting from Murray in the third, not enough done and Groves, 28, controlling the rounds with his superior reach.
In the fourth, Murray came out and attacked, roughing Groves up at times. Head clashes caused a cut to Groves. Murray had upped his tempo and edged the round. Groves was back to controlling the distance, in the fifth, and picking his shots well. Good exchanges in the sixth, Groves landing some sharp, solid shots and Murray too pedestrian. The seventh had both digging in solid punches, Groves busier in a close round and landed a superb left uppercut, at the end of the round, that stunned Murray. The eighth was a painful, punishing round for Martin – legs were stiffened a few times and it was a surprise to see him finish the round.
Murray put in a good effort in the ninth, while George Groves pace had dropped considerably; a straight right, at the end, badly hurt Murray and he stumbled and went down but the referee ruled it a slip. He went back to his corner a beaten man. In the tenth, a beautiful left hook had George in some bother, he regrouped and got his own hard shots through but this was the Merseysider’s round – a testament to his toughness and resolve.
Groves the more accurate in the eleventh. The twelfth and both men fought on empty, a chopping right getting through against Murray and then George stumbled back and looked shattered.
Both men fought their hearts out and after a slow start, it was a fascinating contest between two World-class operators.
George is likely to get a crack at the WBA title, while 33-year-old Murray vowed to fight on.
Official scores 118-110 x 3 to George Groves. Groves record is now 24-3, 18 KOs, Murray’s record falls to 33-4-1, 16 KOs.
Chris Eubank Jr., 26, of Brighton, made a successful first defence of his British middleweight crown by defeating the game but outgunned Tom Doran, 28, of Connah’s Quay.
The opening bell rang and Eubank stayed stood in his corner and beckoned the challenger in, the referee wasn’t amused and told him to cut out the antics. Doran started confidently and landed a solid left hook but he did get staggered by tremendous right uppercut. Both men landed good shots in the opening two rounds but the edge was always with the gifted Eubank.
Doran started the third letting his hands go; then the British champion stepped it up in the round and following a long, sustained, punishing assault, dropped the Welshman from right uppercuts. In the fourth, Doran was down three times, a battered and beaten man despite giving a good account of himself.
It appears that Eubank could face Gennady Golovkin this year and it’s a fight that I would love to see.
Chris Eubank’s record improves to 23-1, 18 KOs while Tom Doran’s record is now 17-1, 7 KOs.
Heavyweight Dillian Whyte was back, after his defeat to Anthony Joshua and shoulder surgery, and facing late-substitute Ivica Bacurin, 34, of Croatia. Whyte outweighed his opponent by 40lbs.
It was a frustrating contest as Bacurin looked to survive, move and hold while 28-year-old Brixton boxer Whyte was missing wildly at times, as he tried to hunt his opponent down. The end finally came in the sixth from a fast, solid right hand that left Bacurin on the floor and wanting no more. Whyte got a few rounds in the bank and it’s good to see him back.
Dillian Whyte’s record is now 17-1, 14 KOs while Ivica Bacurin drops to 25-10-1, 15 KOs.
In a super lightweight contest, Conor “destroyer” Benn showed good movement and patience in knocking out the Czech Republic’s Lukas Radic in a round. Conor fought at a controlled pace, taking his time, dropping his foe twice. The first knockdown from a solid left-hook, the second knockdown saw Benn land a ferocious left and right and another left as Radic started his fall.
There was no need for a count as Radic was out cold. An impressive display by the Ilford boxer.
Conor Benn’s record rises to 3-0, 2 KOs while Lukas Radic’s record is now 3-7-1, 3 KOs.
Middleweight’s Felix Cash and Yailton Neves clashed in a scheduled four round bout.
Cash, making his debut, came out fast and dropped Neves with a fast, solid straight right hand.
Cash of Wokingham, Berkshire, was making his debut and after the early success was rushing his work, to get the finish, but Neves did well to regroup and finish the round. The Portuguese southpaw boxer seemed to gain some confidence in the second. The taller orthodox Cash, showed a decent orthodox jab and fast hands though at times a bit over anxious to get the stoppage. Neves had a disaster in his debut, getting stopped in a round but in this, his second fight, he moved well and was tricky in taking Cash the distance. The referee’s score was 40-35 for debutant Felix Cash.
Felix Cash’s record is 1-0 while Yailton Neves drops to 0-2.
In other contests
Italian Andrea Scarpa (20-2, 10 KOs) spoiled the party for Essex boxer John Wayne Hibbert (17-4, 11 KOs). The Italian impressed as he cut Hibbert in the second and dropped him in the fifth. The end coming when the doctor stopped the contest in the sixth due to Hibbert’s eye damage. Scarpa claimed the vacant WBC Silver super lightweight title.
Middleweight Anthony Ogogo (10-0, 6 KOs) dropped Croatian Frane Radnic (11-3, 10 KOs) with a left at the end of the first and the contest was soon over when Radnic retired in his corner at the end of the round.
Birmingham bantamweight Khalid Yafai (19-0, 13 KOs) extended his unbeaten run by stopping Hungarian Jozsef Ajtai (15-4, 10 KOs) in the first round, dropping him twice.
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