The Pugilist

Frank Warren’s prospects stutter at the Copper Box

The Pugilist

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Frank Buglioni is put under pressure by Sergey Khomitsky (photo: Will Cornelius)

On a night when the boxing world was focussed on Las Vegas, the Copper Box Arena in Hackney produced drama as a number of British prospects failed to deliver.

Billed as ‘The Power of London’, Saturday night promised to showcase the best up-and-coming talent London has to offer.

However, defeats for Frank Buglioni, Tony Conquest and Georgie Kean somewhat soured the hype.

Things got off to a good start as the first four Londoners on show recorded victories.

Chingford’s Tom Baker outclassed Darren McKenna with some good work behind a steady jab to take the fight 58-56 before Paddington’s Gary Corcoran showed good intent to win all eight rounds against journeyman ‘Mad’ Max Maxwell.

Both fighters maintained their unbeaten records without really being tested, Baker now boasts eight wins from eight and Corcoran has won all nine of his professional fights to date.

The first real test of the night saw Crayford’s Lewis Pettitt take on Brazilian Emerson Santos Carvalho for the vacant WBA International super-bantamweight title.

The 23-year-old prospect from Bromley’s Ibox gym showed good hand speed and movement to see off the man from Sao Paolo and take the title.

After failing to get into the early exchanges the Brazilian looked for the knockout blow but free-flowing combinations from Pettitt pegged Santos back and he quickly capitalised on his early domination, claiming the victory by TKO in the fifth round.

The strength of Ibox gym was brought to the fore when their second fighter on the night took to the ring.

Penge man Bradley ‘Super’ Skeete answered his critics with what Frank Warren described as the performance of the night.

Previously questioned for his lack of punching power, the 26-year-old welterweight took apart experienced Italian Giuseppe Loriga to defend his WBA intercontinental title.

Eager to put on a show, Skeete forced the pace from the beginning and in round six he had his man in trouble against the ropes. Just one round on and the referee stepped in, giving Skeete the win by TKO and extending his unbeaten record to 16.

After the fight Skeete talked up his chances of a British title shot and said he is ready to fill the void left by Frankie Gavin when he steps up to the European stage.

The home crowd had little to cheer from then on, though.

Lancashire man William Warburton edged out Islington’s ‘Gorgeous’ Georgie Kean 39-38, before crowd-pleaser Frank Buglioni surrendered his WBO European super-middleweight title to experienced Belarussian Sergey Khomitsky.

Perhaps a victim of his own success, Buglioni’s inexperience showed as Khomitsky repeatedly found holes in the 24-year-old’s defences.

After taking some bruising shots in the fourth round Buglioni appeared to be turning the corner late in the fifth only for a mean uppercut from the Belarussian to rock Buglioni as he wobbled against the ropes – at this point his corner had seen enough and pulled their man out of the contest.

Although many will see this result as big upset, this set back could focus Buglioni’s mind on where he can improve and if nothing else he showed good heart and a decent chin.

A moment of respite for the home crowd was provided by Chris Eubank Jr as he floored Hungarian Sandor Micsko to claim his ninth knockout and extend his unbeaten start to 14.

Eubank looked comfortable for the entire fight and shadows of his father were evident as he glided around the ring looking for the opportune moment to pounce.

A fairly inevitable conclusion in the end and surely Eubank is now ready for a step up in opponent.

The final fight of the night saw another home favourite defeated, as Romford’s Tony Conquest lost his Commonwealth cruiserweight title to Derby man Ovill McKenzie.

After a close opening two rounds, McKenzie grew in confidence and had Conquest on the canvas late in the third round following a big left hand – the bell coming just after Conquest took the count.

The Romford man regrouped in the fourth and was finding his way into the fight before McKenzie delivered a devastating blow to the back of the head which left the 29-year-old crouched on the floor in no position to continue.

The finale capped off a mixed night for Frank Warren as three of his British prospects were defeated – however the continual rise of Bradley Skeete and the classy performance of Chris Eubank Jr provided the home support with reasons to be optimistic.

Also in action, talented American heavyweight Eddie Chambers dispatched Uganda’s Moses Matovu inside the first round and debutant Simon Barclay, from Northamptonshire, got his career off the ground by taking every round against Lithuanian Igor Borucha.

On a night which promised so much, the true power of London remains to be seen.

Rob Horgan | Follow on Twitter @robbiehorgs

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