Not so much a takeaway this weekend as a container of leftover brown rice and some stale naan bread. Indeed, boxing did its usual trick of providing nothing one week, then promising four or five solid cards the next.
One man who wasn’t taking a weekend off was heavyweight prospect Martin Bakole. Can you even class Bakole as a prospect anymore? Talked into Hall of Fame status by Scottish trainer Billy Nelson, the lumbering African had not entirely impressed the handful of observers who had endured a fleeting glance of him on the small hall scene prior to Bakole’s big headline opportunity late last year. Nelson insisted that his man was ready to deliver the goods, had handled top-level talent in sparring, and was bursting to take over.
To say that Bakole’s October 2018 clash with decent American Michael Hunter did not go to plan is an understatement. Appearing live on national TV station Channel Five provided a strong audience eager to either witness Bakole steamroll his foe, or present an opportunity to rub outspoken Nelson’s face in the dirt. After ten torrid rounds (that ended in a final round stoppage loss) it was Billy that needed a face flannel as Bakole was outworked, beaten up and at times trying to bail out with a mysterious injury. It was an embarrassing spectacle. Word afterwards suggested there were concerns leading up to fight night which was obviously not revealed at the time. Whether or not that is true can only be known by the protagonists.
Wind the tape forward to April 6 and a road trip to redemption for Martin who would need to revive his career in the away corner in a bid to snatch back some badly needed credibility. That’s exactly what he managed to do on Saturday evening in Poland as Bakole stopped former world title challenger Mariusz Wach in round eight. Worth far more to Bakole than the dire Republic of Poland International heavyweight bauble was the boost in respectability. Maybe this big fella can fight a bit after all.
Nobody apart from MTK, through their relentless press releases in fight week, was getting too excited about the jaunt into Dubai. That’s not taking anything away from David Oliver Joyce who stopped Stephen Tiffney in the seventh round of the only fight of note. Joyce engaged in some hefty wars with Carl Frampton back in their amateur days. I recall watching the pair spar in Midland ABC in 2011 as Frampton honed his reputation as a blue-chip prospect, and Joyce campaigned as a high-quality amateur pugilist. Joyce is now up at featherweight and building an excellent record (10-0, eight KOs) as a pro. The 32-year-old is very skilled and can a long way in the sport. As historical as the card may have been, the bright lights of the UAE are merely a stepping stone for the Mullingar man.