Boxing is full of clichés, some more useful than others, but the old adage “It's not losing that defines a fighter, but how he comes back from it” might yet motivate Des 'The Destroyer' Newton after the local favourite was beaten in a narrow points loss to Cardiff fighter Henry Janes, in front of a loyal army of vociferous fans at Plymouth Guildhall on Friday night.
In an enthralling and evenly matched action packed encounter, the Bere Alston Lightweight met Janes, (who has fought the likes of Kevin Mitchell), head on, in a war of dogged attrition.
Janes rushed out and initiated the fight, landing a few looping overhand rights before Newton walked him onto a peach of a right hook. None the less Janes was the busier fighter over the first few rounds, targeting the body although Newton was already beginning to judge distance better and make him miss.
In round four Newton had the Guildhall faithful on their feet as he relentlessly drove forward, landing a barrage of shots on Janes that would have stopped many a lesser opponent. Alternating between head and body, Newton rocked Janes with intelligent power shots to the head and short chopping body work that kept Janes swaying and off balance until the mercy of the bell.
It would be an exaggeration to say Janes then got on his bike, though he was certainly more cautious in the second half of the contest, firing back only intermittently and boxing off the back foot, occasionally opting to stand and trade a little, but gradually tiring and starting to lean on the busier man.
Newton finished the final round with some impressive work to the body interspersed with spiteful uppercuts, and seemed the more positive of the two over eight rounds, marching forward and working, whilst Janes at times seemed content to try and counter.
Both raised their hands at end with Referee Lee Every asking the faithful fans to show appreciation for both boxers before the 78-76 scorecard to Janes was announced. Janes and Newton had both landed some audibly sickening shots throughout, to the gasps of the raucous hordes who had packed Plymouth's Guildhall.
While Janes had caught Newton with a looping shot early on, that left a growing mouse of the home town fighters right eye, he was undeterred and the brave Newton took the fight over the last four rounds, to the Cardiff man, both leaving the ring bearing the marks of a fight that fired the imagination.
While Des'The 'Destroyer' had found it difficult to land enough shots to claw back enough points, there was no shame in losing his first professional match with a performance like that. I had the same 78-76 score, but to Newton's corner. A rematch is a mouth watering prospect for any fight fan, neutral or not.
Somebody who knows just how difficult an opponent Janes can be, is Darren Townley . Fighting now out of Carl Robson's stable, Newton can take heart from the fact that a now resurgent Townley was also narrowly beaten by Janes at the end of 2016. In a night of boxing dubbed “No love lost - War of the Roses 2” super lightweight Townley had his own bloody civil war with Essex fighter Dylan Draper.
Not quite on the scale of Henry Holland, a Duke from up the road in Exeter who in the War of the Roses got up eight hours after he had been cut down on the battlefields, stripped of valuables and left for dead, (now that is a comeback) Townley none the less impressed with his concentration, work rate and skills, in a contest in which an early clash of heads was ruled to have caused a cut over his opponents left eye.
Townley patiently worked away at it throughout the contest without neglecting his other range of shots and was rewarded with a 79-74 win and lifting the Super lightweight international challenge belt that he had come for.
The Oxford born fighter who beat Michael Mooney with a points decision last time out, again deployed some punishing body work to halt his opponents march forward, and I asked him for his thoughts on his performance
“I am so happy. I just felt a different fighter in that fight. I felt strong right up until the eighth round, kept my work rate up and could have carried on.
The hard work from this camp paid off. I worked on his cut through every round, landing the right hand on it and it did open up a bit more. I am happy though even without the stoppage.”
I also asked Townley for his thoughts on stable mate Newtons loss, having shared an opponent
“Gutted for him. I know what Henry Janes brings to the table. You can watch him on video and mistake it for an easy nights work but he is very unpredictable and he has been in with top guys like Crolla, he has given some very good fighters like Joe Murray a tough time.”
Before Townley, who was cheered on by his own enthusiastic fans, the Guildhall had rocked to the return of Jack Bellingham. Donning a black mask, Jack “The Ripper” Bellingham, put in an impressive performance for somebody who has been out injured for over a year.
Accurate and persistent, with his trademark body shots sapping the life out of a game Paul Cummings, Bellingham is a man on a mission and has great potential to help grow the sport here in Plymouth. He was fully deserving of his comprehensive 40-36 point victory in a one sided fight that his opponent would have been glad to hear the final bell in.
Earlier, Plymouth lightweight Louis Aitken, whose being matched against the well respected pro Kristian Laight on his debut, speaks volumes about his potential and pedigree, faced a much taller Andy Harris, in his third professional fight. Former kick boxer Aitken battled his way to a tough 40 -36 points victory. It took a while for the Plymouth boxer to gauge the distance and deal with the bigger man, and his reach, but once settled in, he laid down some quality work.
Winning with an identical score card, Jordan Platt, who had been out running on Christmas Day was rewarded for his dedication by beating the evergreen and ever fit Liam Richards. Platt who had beaten Mooney , (Townley's last opponent in May 2017), faced the familiar Melksham man, who despite throwing in an Ali Shuffle halfway through through the contest, could not deter or distract Platt from his work.
Platt who had until tonight only fought professionally once, for four rounds in a points victory over the Worcester madman, was now facing in Richards, an experienced and well seasoned fighter who even though four years his junior, has fought 290 rounds in 54 fights. The Launceston man outworked and landed 'Rocco' to a deserved second professional victory.
Platts Launceston gym mate fighting out of the same market town, Wes Smith, fought his way to a well earned points victory in which he let his improving work flow dictate the fight.
Torquay Light Heavyweight prospect Zane Turner, boxing out of the Warriors boxing venue, made his debut against Darren Snow and showed very fast hands and good skills in what was an explosive and measured performance.
The strong methodical Turner impressed on his debut with the only stoppage of the night in 2 mins 37 seconds of round four. A very compact fighter for a big man, Turner cut the ring off excellently not wasting anything with the effects of his fast work very evident on the heavily tattooed body of his opponent, even before the referee Kieran McCann declared him in no fit state to continue.
The night opened with Chard fighter Paul Roberts drawing with Evesham's Brett Fidoe. A tad unlucky perhaps, Roberts brought a sizeable following and seemed to do the tidier and more efficient work through all four rounds in a close fight.
Plymouth Guildhall thanks to BCB Promotions, Carl Robson's boxing stable and other local trainers like Nathan Hill is building a national reputation as the cities magnificent stain glassed palace of pugilism. It says a lot about boxing in the city that Scott Dann fought out of, when it can have the likes of Newton, Townley, Bellingham and Aitken as good ticket sellers, all with such an enthusiastic support base from which to build.
At this stage of their careers, the fact that Newton has taken narrowly losing a war in his stride, and already talked about being eager for a rematch, bodes well for future shows and the growth of the sport as a rewarding spectacle here in Plymouth.