Lennox Clarke pushes to 15-0 with Walsall victory

Lennox Clarke made it 15 professional victories as he defeated the resilient Bartlomiej Grafka in what was his toughest test to date at Walsall FC on Friday evening, writes James Eley.

The unbeaten Halesowen prospect topped BCB Promotions’ four-fight dinner show – Battleground – and did enough to take all eight rounds receiving an 80-72 score from referee, Shaun Messer.

The 25-year-old was sharp throughout but his Polish opponent gave a warning he would be no push over in the first as he caught Clarke with a heavy combination. The super middleweight was battling for the centre of the ring and trying to tie Grafka up on the ropes but the 28-year-old powered his way out of trouble and kept recapturing the centre spot. As the fight reached the half way stage Grafka appeared to be growing into the contest but it was Clarke who was still doing the most work without hurting his opponent. The sixth and seventh round reduced Grafka’s face to a bloody mess. A looping over-the-top shot opened up Grafka’s nose before a slashing hook from Clarke caused a nasty cut above his eye. Despite the damage the only time the travelling fighter was on the canvas was when he slipped in the seventh round. Grafka kept coming forward despite Clarke throwing power punches in an attempt to dissuade him. It was another close round in the eighth but Clarke did enough to earn a clean sweep and move a step closer to the title shot he is searching for.

West Bromwich’s Joshua Stokes put on a masterclass in body punching as he got off to the perfect start in his professional career. The light heavyweight debutant looked powerful as he punished Lincoln’s Mitch Mitchell with crunching hooks. The 29-year-old did well to stay on his feet during the damaging assault and Stokes remained patient, keeping a good distance before unloading with more hurtful blows to the body. Mitchell looked exhausted going into the final round as Stokes kept up the pressure to earn a 40-36 victory which sees him follow his brother Tom into the professional ranks.

Former kickboxing World Champion, Brad Foster, earned the only stoppage of the night, needing just two and a half minutes of the first round to finish Leonard Rafael. ‘The Blade’ came out hunting the knockout from the first bell. The 19-year-old flyweight was tenacious and targeted the body with a flurry of clubbing shots that forced his opponent to take one knee. Every punch the Lichfield pugilist landed was malicious and he faced no resistance from Rafael to record his sixth professional win.

In the opening fight of the night Connor Parker defeated Liam Richards in a one-sided contest to earn his second professional win. The Swadlincote super lightweight picked his shots with accuracy and landed combinations of hooks and uppercuts. Melksham’s Richards moved his feet well in an attempt to stay out of range but Parker kept up the pressure and trapped ‘Rocco’ against the ropes. The 21-year-old was caught on occasions as his defence showed signs of weakness but he more than made up for it in attack as he breezed to victory.