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Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

November 27, 2016

Big City Dreams come true for Taylor

Enzo Maccarinelli

by Craig Scott

Women’s boxing was declared the winner at the Wembley's SSE Arena on last night as Katie Taylor (1-0, 1 KO) triumphed on her professional debut in emphatic fashion.
  
Wherever they go, travelling Irish fans crank up the volume and provide plenty of excitement. This was no different and with tri-colours waving, Taylor entered the ring looking focused. There was a massive sense of intrigue from all at ringside and any questions surrounding the ‘appeal of female boxing’ were quickly laid to rest.

Taylor began by claiming the centre of the ring, forcing opponent Karina Kopinska (7-15-3, 2 KOs) back onto the ropes and landing a clean right hook. Combinations followed, beautifully put together and hurtful in equal measure. Taylor used her time in the ring, less than three rounds, to throw five-six punch combinations at will, and redden the face of her opponent. Kopinska was overmatched, but remained valiant until the end. As for Taylor, it appears a star may have been born.

“Forget women’s boxing, forget men’s boxing, it’s just boxing. And Katie Taylor can fight. She can entertain," said her promoter Eddie Hearn afterwards.

The outstanding Ben Hall (9-1-1, 2 KOs) v Carson Jones (40-11-3, 3 KOs) super welterweight clash had warmed the audience up, with fans demanding a rematch after the seemingly injured Hall was pulled out by his corner in the six round.

Everyone in attendance was jolted by the action early on in this one. Hall started strongly and looked massive in comparison, his back so broad from the arena’s ground level. Between rounds, Jones was standing without his stool to display fitness and this showed as he ploughed forward! The crowd were going nuts, Twitter was blowing up and it felt like an hour of top drawer battle. Actually, it lasted only 18 minutes. Despite rallying, Hall found himself under pressure from the seasoned American and was bloodied, taking heavy shots in his own corner before being saved for another day.

Speaking after the fight, a disheartened Hall said, “I must have broken it (my hand), I’m sure. I’m absolutely heartbroken. I hope I didn’t let anybody down.”

Martin J Ward (16-0-2, 8 KOs) defended his British super featherweight title against a game Ronnie Clark (17-4-2, 10 KOs) in an extremely entertaining fight. Clark wasn’t fancied by many, however he hunted the slicker Ward and even the neutrals at ringside were chanting “Come on Ronnie!”, as he tried to chase the champion around the ring.

Sat next to the Scotsman’s team, they were convinced he had to win via stoppage. Knocking Ward down in the tenth with a decent shot to the solar plexus wasn’t enough, and Ward picked up the win via unanimous decision.

Hackney’s own Ohara Davies (14-0, 11 KOs) faced off against Andrea Scarpa (20-3, 10 KOs) in the evening’s main event. 

​Scarpa is best known on these shores from his visit in June when he stopped John Wayne Hibbert. This bout was for the WBC Silver super lightweight title, and it was difficult to tell who was the champion in the lead up to fight night.

Davies had been oozing confidence and boxing heads such as Anthony Yarde, Isaac Chamberlain and the always vocal Spencer Fearon were screaming their man on from ringside.

After starting strongly, Davies slowed slightly in the middle rounds. Scarpa was barely active and seemed confused at the movement of ‘Two Tanks’ as he struggled to mount his attacks. Davies relied too heavily on single shots, leaving himself open to some decent counter-punching. Davies managed to finish strongly, showing his fitness and actually pieceing together his best shots in the final two rounds. All three judges scored the contest 120-108 in favour of the new champion.

In reality, it was an underwhelming performance from the highly touted Davies, and much of the chat online following his victory surrounded a potential Josh Taylor v Ohara Davies match-up.

The shock of the night came before Sky Sports went live with JJ McDonagh (14-3, 7 KOs) steamrolling Jake Ball (7-1, 6 KOs).

The finely conditioned Ball looked much bigger and much fitter than his Irish opponent, but soon found himself literally punched over the top of the ropes. There was panic from Ball’s team at ringside as they screamed “Jake, hold him! Grab hold!” 

Their charge decided against that advice, and walked into one of the most brutal knockouts of the year. Ball lay on his side for minutes, oxygen was rushed to his aid as the Arena fell silent. The good news was that Ball recovered and was well enough to stand for the reading of the result. How he comes back from this will be interesting, and certainly challenging. McDonagh delighted the Irish support, winning the vacant WBA international light heavyweight belt.

South Oxley’s Reece Bellotti (8-0, 7 KOs)) produced a composed performance in winning the English featherweight title. His opponent, Ian Bailey (13-20-1, 5 KOs) was the victim of 19 defeats before he stepped through the ropes on the night, and looked well up for the challenge.

Bellotti utilised the uppercut as Bailey charged forward, picking him off with accurate shots on the back foot. Bailey’s eye ended up nearly as big as his heart, and Bellotti picked away at it until, wisely, Bailey's team threw in the towel at the end of the seventh.

Bigger things await the young English champion who looked slick and efficient, but Bailey certainly played his part in an entertaining contest.

Although the evening was filled with quantity, it was the quality of Katie Taylor which stole the show. Electrifying and inspiring, Taylor had us all on our feet and showed that she is prepared to fill any gaps we thought there were in women's boxing market. She will be out again on December 10, and with Matchroom blushing at her potential in the paid ranks, we should expect to see plenty of her on 2017.