The first MTK Golden Contract winner was crowned, as Ohara Davies took the Super Lightweight tournament, and the WBC International title, with a scrappy majority decision win over Tyrone McKenna in Wakefield on Wednesday.
Davies (22-2, 16 KOs) secured a lucrative two-year, five-fight deal with MTK Global with a guarantee of six-figure purses for each bout, following his victory over his bitter-rival, McKenna (21-2-1, 6 KOs).
There were scheduled to be two tournament finals on the bill, but sadly the eagerly-anticipated Featherweight clash between Jazza Dickens and Ryan Walsh fell at the final hurdle, with Dickens and his trainer, Derry Mathews, testing positive for COVID-19.
McKenna used his feet to dance out of range in the opener, and Davies hunted him down with a wild jab.
The Belfast man was using his footwork to make Davies miss, and he landed with a short right hand in the second with the Hackney man looking clumsy in charging after his opponent.
McKenna was boxing at this point with his hands by his side and his chin out, as he goaded his long-time rival.
It was hard for Davies to land cleanly, as he threw punches with knockout intentions, which McKenna easily saw coming.
McKenna was growing in confidence, and was happy to stand in the pocket and counter any mistakes, but Davies did land a stiff right hand down the pipe in the fifth that the Belfast man took well.
A nick had appeared above McKenna’s right eye in the sixth, caused by a punch, but it didn’t affect the him much, and he put together some neat boxing in the seventh.
Davies started the eighth strongly, as he sensed the urgency for a good finish, landing with two left hands at the beginning of the round, and a sharp right hand at the back end of the session.
The penultimate round was more of what you liked yet again, whether that be Davies’ front foot attacks, or McKenna’s punch picking, and the fight looked up for grabs going into the final three minutes.
McKenna landed with a well-timed right hand counter, and he worked well on the counter as Davies’ work became ragged in his desperation to win the round. The fight inevitably went to the scorecards, with the result far from certain.
The two faced an anxious wait as the scores were collated, and John Latham’s 95-95 card was overruled by Howard Foster and Mark Lyson, who judged Davies the winner by a 96-94 margin.
Davies was understandably elated with his win, his first under new trainer, Kevin Mitchell, and he even watched his overwhelming 2017 defeat to Josh Taylor on the morning of the fight.
“I feel good, my training camp was extra long, I’m on top of the world,” Davies told Sky Sports post-fight.
“I don’t think it was that close, I thought I won the fight easily, I could have gone up another two or three notches. He probably won two or three rounds in that fight”
“I’m the first winner of the Golden Contract. At the minute, the future is taking me to Five Guys!
“I’m coming for everyone now. I watched the Josh Taylor fight for the first time this morning, and I remembered all of the humiliation I felt that night and I’ll never feel that pain again I promised myself.”
Brilliant sportsmanship from the two men after a 10 round battle 🥊
— MTK Global 🌍 (@MTKGlobal) September 30, 2020
The other Golden Contract offering on the bill came at Light Heavyweight, with Serge Michel setting up a final meeting with Richards Bolotniks, flooring Liam Conroy three times on the way to a fourth round knockout win.
Michel (11-1, 8 KOs) came out with intent, and threw some big shots in the opening exchanges, but Conroy (18-6-1, 9 KOs) stayed busy and worked his way inside.
Conroy upped his output in the second, but Michel was warming to his task, bringing over short right hands off a snappy jab, bloodying the Brit’s left ear.
Conroy deployed his own jab to good effect in the third, but right on the bell, he got caught on the way in by a short right that had him off balance and down to his knees for a knockdown.
The 28-year-old did pin the visitor back to the ropes and unloaded, but the success didn’t last long though, as Michel again timed Conroy to perfection with a right that floored him heavily.
Conroy bravely rose, but on the resumption, a whipping right uppercut floored the brave ‘Barrow Bomber’ once again, and referee Mark Lyson wisely dispensed with the count midway through.
Michel earned a £5000 bonus for his early nights’ work and moves onto the final with Bolotniks, following his victory over Hosea Burton in Riga last Saturday.
Steven Ward responded to his first career defeat down at Light Heavyweight with a move to Cruiserweight, and he marked his first fight at the weight with a routine points win over six against Jone Volau.
Bolotniks dropped Ward (13-1, 4 KOs) three times in an opening round shocker in the quarter-final of the Golden Contract last December, and the Irishman returned in Wakefield with a controlled performance against Volau (5-6, 2 KOs), who was also on debut at Cruiserweight after campaigning as a Heavyweight for his first ten fights.
Referee Howard Foster awarded the fight to Ward by a 59-55 margin.
Ben Fail (1-0) made his professional debut at Middleweight, and took a dominant six round points win over former Southern Area title challenger, Robbie Chapman (6-5).
A 60-54 verdict was returned by referee Howard Foster.
The show opener, and the only bout away from the live card, came at Cruiserweight, where Will Hamilton moved to 2-0 (1 KO) as a professional with a 39-37 win over four rounds on Howard Foster’s card against Genadij Krajevskij (0-11).