Hats off to both Anthony Fowler and Scott Fitzgerald for putting their unbeaten records on the line (9-0 and 12-0 respectively) on Saturday night in Liverpool.
James Degale was 10-0 and George Groves 12-0 when they met in a 2011 grudge match. Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora were both unbeaten in 14 fights when they contested Chisora’s British and Commonwealth titles in 2011. Billy Joe Saunders (20-0) and Chris Eubank Jr (18-0) put their untainted slates on the line as Saunders successfully defended his British, Commonwealth and European crowns in 2014. It’s good to see, and boxing needs more of it.
Back in Liverpool, Fowler slipped into frustration mode when he realised he wasn’t able to hurt Fitzgerald as quickly as he had anticipated. Both men enjoyed spells when they were on top -taking it in turns to lead with stiff left jabs. As the bout wore on Fitzgerald was landing more counter shots.
Fitzgerald stayed calm and composed, refusing to meet Fowler head-on. The Scouse favourite, meanwhile, was starting to load up on the big finish; looking increasingly desperate to get rid of his opponent. Putting everything he had in to round nine, Fowler went all out for the stoppage, emptying the tank in the process. Fitzgerald’s well-timed left hooks in the final round swung the bout in his favour and earned him a well-deserved win.
Kash Ali has had his license suspended by the BBBofC after biting David price in their crossroads fight. Quite what was going through Ali’s mind is anybody’s guess. Most likely he was feeling the heat of the lights on the big stage and wanted a way out. Gregory Corbin found a similar escape route against Charles Martin a couple of weeks ago. Corbin’s penchant for low blows was slightly more conventional than Ali’s choice of foul, it has to be noted, but both men wanted out of the ring. Kash will have his purse withheld as well, although promoter Eddie Hearn says there is a way back for the unbeaten plodder, who was starting to blow a bit as the rounds wore on. Hopefully, they get him a decent pre-fight meal next time so he can stick closer to the fighting side.
Later in the evening, over in the States, Doudou Ngumbu was struck down by an injury as he reached for WBC glory at 175 pounds. The French-based veteran had eight losses on his record already so was one of the softer touches brought in for the new champion’s first defence. Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk was dominating, if not blowing anyone away (least of all his challenger), before Ngumbu suffered a calf muscle injury. There was suspicion about Ngumbu’s opt-out, but why pull out of the most significant career opportunity he’ll receive? The tears looked genuine.
As for Gvozdyk, one of his main tasks was to shift the mindset from challenger to champion given that he was now expected to come forward and get rid of his man early. When he went up against Adonis Stevenson in their ill-fated December 2018 WBC title tussle, the man trained by Teddy Atlas was boxing on away turf, seemingly with less to lose against an established champion. Stevenson’s post-fight plight was unfortunate. Gvozdyk pushed it out of his psyche and boxes on regardless. Whether he is capable of defeating the likes of a Bivol or Beterbiev is still open for debate.
The proliferation of TV dates means we see a lot of learning fights. Gvozdyk had an inordinate amount of amateur fights and is still trying to eliminate his amateur traits. The same can be said for Egidijus Kavaliauskas who drew with Ray Robinson. Kavaliauskas boxed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics so is also trying to shed his amateur skin. Top Rank is attempting to seamlessly steer the Lithuanian into a position to box Terence Crawford, but he’ll never be at a level to contend with the likes of Crawford, no matter how hard they try to convince otherwise.