Unbeaten middleweight boxer, Liam Desmond felt inspired by best pal, John Wayne Hibbert’s spirited performance at London’s O2 Arena last weekend on the bumper bill of boxing dubbed, ‘Rule Britannia’ that saw Kell Brook dismantle Frankie Gavin in six one-sided rounds in the main event of the evening.
30-year-old Hibbert 15-3 challenged the champion Dave Ryan 17-8 for his Commonwealth light-welterweight title on May 30th after amassing six straight KO victories on his impressive record.
The Essex boy’s previous loss was way back in March 2013 in an English title eliminator with the same foe, Ryan, narrowly losing out on points in front of his home crowd in Grays Civic Hall.
This time around and the in-form Hibbert took the fight to the champion and looked likely to dethrone the 32-year-old titleholder from Derby after scoring two knockdowns in rounds three and five and clearly leading on the scorecards.
But every bit a true champion, the Derby man rallied and turned the fight on its head with a great seventh round performance then flooring the challenger twice in round nine giving referee, Victor Loughlin no option but to stop the contest.
Both boxers showed strength in character on the night and the victor, known to fans as ‘Rocky’, admitted to being hurt in every round by the heavy-handed Hibbert.
Best pal, Liam Desmond reflected on the action that night in the country’s capital, “He started off and he was on fire and he got rewarded with the knockdown in the third.”
There also came a second knockdown in the fifth round which sparked a revival in the Commonwealth champ who subsequently began to come back stronger in the ascendency of the title fight.
“I think he [John Wayne Hibbert] got caught in the ninth with some good shots but I thought that he boxed really well, he was up on the scorecards so he boxed lovely up until the stoppage.”
The argument could be presented that losing a fight after scoring two knockdowns shows a lack of conviction, Liam responded, “It ain’t as easy as it looks to get them out of there when they’re covering up and your shots are just landing on gloves and you don’t want to punch yourself out. Some people could say that he blew himself out in the early rounds but Dave Ryan got a second wind and came alive in the later rounds.”
The WBC International title that Hibbert netted by defeating Leonardo Gonzalez in October last year was surrendered to Ryan as a result of the loss on the night.
“He’s very tough, Dave Ryan and that’s why he’s the champion,” the 21-year-old continued. “He just comes back off anything, you’ve got to knock him out cold to beat him.”
A brief glimpse of Hibbert’s performances of late just proves the killer instinct that he does possess especially after his emphatic display over the now retired, Tyler Goodjohn in January at the O2 Arena, which has been the same venue for his previous three ring encounters.
“He’s come on bundles in the last couple of years and he does hit hard for his size,” said Desmond. “He managed six straight KO’s in the last fights and got two knockdowns in this fight even though he lost.”
Desmond enters the square ring himself in what will be his fifth pro outing on June 20th at Grays Civic Hall, the same setting for all of his professional boxing fights since his debut last March.
Currently undefeated in four fights, the young prospect will get a tough test in his fifth outing when he takes on the seasoned Chris Jenkinson 8-18-2 on a Carl Greaves Promotions show.
The small hall show promoted by Carl Greaves is hugely popular in the Essex area but Desmond, nicknamed ‘The Hammer’ from his West Ham amateur days, expressed his ambitions to fight in front of bigger crowds, “It’s brilliant to see him doing well and one day I want to be there doing that and that what’s it’s all about.”
Hibbert first tackled Ryan at the Grays Civic Hall in Essex and the rematch, two years later, was played out at the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena with many thousands tuning in live on Sky Sports.
Desmond explained, “I don’t want to take backwards steps now, I want to progress and I want the hard fights because it makes you learn more.
“I’d like to finish the year as a Masters champion. I talked about it in a chat with Kevin [Lilley] and hopefully I’ll move on to bigger fights next year. For now, it’s about getting my name out there and some more wins under my belt,” concluded Desmond.
Follow Liam Desmond on Twitter @liam_desmond