It was an entertaining nights boxing at the famous old York Hall, as the latest JD NXTGEN offering rolled into town.
Conor Benn showed shades of his old man in the main event, with a vulnerable, but destructive second round stoppage of Finland’s Jussi Koivula to defend his WBA Continental Welterweight Title.
Entering the venue to Conroy Smith’s Dangerous, a tune often used by his illustrious father Nigel, Benn looked focused on the job in hand.
Koivula though had come to Bethnal Green intent on an upset, and he connected with a stiff right hand within seconds of the opening bell, and Benn seemed surprised by the ambush from the Finn, who again landed with a stiff right in a frantic start. A third straight right dipped the legs of “The Destroyer”, who was finding the going tough early on.
The second though, saw Benn turn the fight on its head, a monster left hand sending Koivua tottering to the canvas.He survived the count, but two big rights sent him back to the floor. He groggily rose to his feet and continued, but another heavy right hand on the ropes forced referee Bob Williams’ intervention.
Eddie Hearn mentioned Samuel Vargas as a future opponent in the aftermath, as well as Josh Kelly down the line, while also praising his charge Benn for his performance.
Ted Cheeseman was forced to settle for a draw in a first defence of his British Super Welterweight Title against the gutsy Kieron Conway.
It was immediately down to business, with good give and take action. Cheeseman stamped his authority with some weighty shots in the second half of the first.
A decent uppercut landed for Northampton’s Conway in the second round, and he was growing into the contest in his first scheduled twelve rounder. Cheeseman was coming forward at will, and a body shot certainly troubled Conway right at the end of the session.
Conway’s lack of power was looking to be a factor, although he was boxing well enough without hurting the Bermondsey man. Cheeseman had no regard for what Conway had to offer, and again connected with good body work in round three.
Body work was key, although Cheeseman’s nose was bloodied in the fourth. Conway visibly sagged with a heavy body shot in one such attack, but he rebounded though with some eye catching work at the conclusion of the round.
Conway was warming to his task, and boxing well when at range, and was troubling the Londoner in the fifth with some excellent work to head and body.
Cheeseman’s work was becoming ragged, and he was becoming embroiled in a much more difficult fight than he had anticipated as Conway enjoyed another decent round in the sixth. Conway was clearly growing in confidence, and was now starting to slip Cheeseman’s punches to get off his own combinations.
A left hook at the start of the eighth gave Cheeseman renewed confidence, but Conway’s movement was especially impressive. Cheeseman came out in the ninth with a lot more purpose, and he started landing a greater volume of shots, with a big right hand finding the mark on Conway, now past eight rounds for the first time.
Conway had slowed all of a sudden, but was still keeping the Champion at bay with flurries and movement. Cheeseman was getting stronger towards the finish line, and was beginning to assert his authority with relentless work. It now looked like Conway was more intent to complete the twelve round distance, as he started to tire.
Complete the distance Conway did, finishing well, with a good uppercut landing in the last, with both having successes.
It was down to the three scoring judges, and a three way split was the verdict, with Marcus McDonnell tallying 116-113 for Conway, Terry O’Connor 115-114 for Cheeseman, and Bob Williams failing to split the two in a 114-114 card.
Most ringside observers felt that Cheeseman won handily, with Conway himself not admitting he thought he won the fight. Promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that the rematch would have to wait, with Scott Fitzgerald the next challenger for the belt.
Craig “Spider” Richards prevailed in a scrappy but absorbing London Derby, with a unanimous points win against Andre Sterling, who caused him plenty of problems in their final eliminator for the British Light Heavyweight Title.
It was a cautious opening from both, with Sterling extremely watchful, but possibly shading the first round with decent work to the body. The cleaner work was coming from Sterling, but it was a tense and quiet opening few rounds.
The third saw referee Marcus McDonnell advise both to clean up the action, and Sterling responded with a nice right hand. Richards finally came to life towards the end of the round, with some decent rights of his own.
Richards was working a lot better off the jab by the fourth, and started to assert some authority on the contest, while Sterling was trying to keep some safe distance by boxing at range. This was causing Richards some problems, as he was struggling to find rhythm. A good right hand from Sterling in the fifth forced Richards into action with a decent right hand in reply.
Right hands from Sterling were causing Richards problems. but the Crystal Palace man rebounded superbly to connect with more meatier rights, with a short right dipping the legs of Sterling, and a follow up right dropping Andre for a count of eight. Sterling grimly survived the remainder of the sixth.
Richards certainly had the bit between his teeth, asserting his strong jab, but Sterling did well to clear the fog of the previous session, landing a big right hand over the top right at the end of round seven.
Sterling was landing the better shots of the messy action in the eighth, with Richards growing increasingly frustrated of being tied up by his opponent. It was a quiet ninth with little to report, with both seemingly taking a round off. The tenth was also a tense affair.
Sterling was now into the championship rounds for the very first time, and he was tiring, with Richards’ jab now coming to the fore. A solid right hand also found a home. Sterling was now on shaky legs, and looking to hold at every opportunity. It looked all to play for going into the final frame, and Sterling was desperately tired, but he managed to safely negotiate the session to make it to the cards.
After a lengthy delay, Ian John Lewis scored 117-111, Bob Williams 116-111 and Terry O’Connor 115-112 to give Richards the win.
Exciting American teenager, Otha Jones III provided the float between the two main fights, and he made it two wins out of two, as he overwhelmed Michael Horabin with blinding handspeed in just under two minutes.
Horabin was put down with a hard left hand by the nineteen year old, and then connected with a sickening body shot after surviving the count, but that was deemed low by referee Kieran McCann. There didn’t seem a lot wrong with the shot, but the end was nigh in any case, and after another blurring assault, Horabin’s corner threw the towel in after a brutal body and head assault again put the Cheshire man on the canvas.
Watford’s “Baby Faced Assassin”, Shannon Courtenay had a third paid outing on the card, belting the overmatched late notice opponent, Valerija Sepetovska to a second round stoppage defeat.
A right hand started the damage in the opener, and a few salvos later, a solid left hook the highlight, ending with a glancing left dumped Sepetovska on the canvas. She bravely survived the round, but was clearly out of her depth. It was the right hands that did the damage in round two, with a trio of meaty hooks wobbling the Latvian visitor. After a left and right frenzy, referee Mark Bates correctly called a halt to proceedings.
Kicking off the televised portion of the bill was Charles Frankham, who took next to no time to chalk up a second win as a professional, stopping another Latvian import, Ilgvars Krauklis in just over ninety seconds.
A glancing right hand did the job for “Boom Boom” Frankham. It looked like an innocuous enough shot just behind the ear, but the visitor elected to sit out the count, handing Frankham an inside distance win.