Oli Edwards, Luke Gibbo secure victories in Maidstone

Tim Rickson 01/03/2017

Middleweight prospect Oli Edwards moved up to 5-0 on Saturday 25th February with an impressive performance against Scott Hillman (0-17) at Mote Park leisure Centre in Maidstone on a five-fight JE Promotions card, titled ‘The New Era’.

Despite never having his hand raised in his pro career, 35-year-old Hillman had previously never been halted by any of his 16 opponents until he met with Edwards on the last weekend in February.

The officiating referee brought a halt to proceedings at 2minutes 36seconds of the third round when he decided that Hillman had soaked up to much punishment throughout the eight-and-a-half minutes of ring action.

Round 1:

Despite triumphing in his last fight in just 24 seconds, the 21-year-old middleweight from the Invicta Gym in Sheerness intelligently exacted patience in the first round of this bout. He established his jab, range and dominance early, patiently throwing single shots for the first half of the round until he began to make Hillman miss on occasions and punished him every time for the mistakes.

In the closing minute, he began to let the right hand go and put together a few good combos whenver he backed his opponent up on the ropes.

Round 2:

The fight caught fire in the second round as they immediately met in the centre of the ring. Edwards landed three right hands and a neat left uppercut within the first few seconds of the round.

Midway through the round, Hillman made a play to escape the ropes by throwing a left and right hook to which Edwards intelligently swerved and countered with a crashing right hook of his own that visibly rocked Hillman.

The 35-year-old from Eastbourne did land a good right hook of his own a few moments later but Edwards got revenge seconds afterwards with a stiff jab that rocked his head back.

Round 3:

Edwards upped his workrate in the third round, landing clever combos and peppering in precise body shots whenever he got in close to Hillman, who tucked up tight but looked tired from the ongoing beat down.

Then came the best punch of the fight, as Edwards walked towards Hillman in a straight line, the Sussex fighter threw a wild right hand over the head of Edwards as he rolled underneath and landed a crushing left hook and followed up with a hard straight right hand.

He continued to throw shots from angles, landing uppercuts, head shots, and could not fail to land that short left hook to the ribs every time.

Hillman backed up to the home fighter’s corner allowing Edwards to pick his shots, shifting his feet and pivoting off to create angles until the referee had seen enough and handed Hillman his first stoppage in his paid career so far.

It was an intelligent, skilful, and mature display from the youngster and a statement of intent to other fighters in the 160-pound division to be able to stop a fighter that had never been stopped in 16 fights and 64 rounds.

It was Edwards’ second consecutive stoppage win having secured his first stoppage in his last outing in October 2016, halting Laszlo Kovacs (9-4) in just 24-seconds.

EFormer Team GB boxer Luke Gibbo (1-0) kicked off his paid career with a shutout points win over seasoned veteran Ibrar Riyaz (4-114-4) at Mote Park Leisure Centre on February 25th.

The JE Promotions five-fight card was a sold-out event that also featured Southern Area title contender Martin Hillman (9-4).

With over 80 amateur fights under his belt, more than a dozen appearances for England, and wins over top names such as Ricky Boylan as a junior, Gibbo finally made his eagerly-awaited pro bow over four three-minute rounds at super-lightweight.

The 25-year-old from Bexleyheath had stopped boxing in his early 20’s after putting his career as a nightclub promoter first. Regular unpaid trips from Kent to Sheffield to train with the Team GB Development Squad took its toll on the youngster and he soon quit to focus on earning money.

The nightclub worker came out to ear-splitting reception having sold over 200 tickets for his inauguration into the paid ranks.

In the opposing corner stood 31-year-old Blackburn-born Riyaz, appearing in his 123rd bout. The tough travelling fighter had experienced a whopping 600 rounds before he entered the ring against Gibbo, only stopped on three rare occasions during his eight-year-long career.

The home fighter immediately showed signs of his amateur pedigree, moving well and taking all four rounds in what was an assured and confident display, scored at 40-36 by the officiating referee.

The popular 140-pounder summed up the occasion, “I felt really good, there was a lot to take in such as the whole atmosphere, the noise, the eight-ounce gloves…so it was good to get the feel of what it’s like in the pros. With everyone there, there’s a lot of pressure on you but my nerves were alright.”

Gibbo talked through the fight as he saw it, “Started off really quick, I had a good first round hitting him with everything. I got some big body shots in which I could hear were hurting him but he’s tough and experienced.

“The second round was much the same although I was guilty of thinking about things a bit too much.

“In the third round, I was chasing him down too much and not cutting the ring off enough. With 30 seconds to go he came up with his head and I got a nasty cut on my eye.”

After the fight, Gibbo was treated with 11 stitches on a gash above his right eye.

“In the last round, he kept holding on so I tried to keep it long,” he continued. “He tried to push it after he had cut me and I had to move my head a lot.

“Overall, I was happy with that, I was working my angles and moving well.”

He went on to talk about what was in store for him next, “Got to have six weeks off for the cut. I had to have stitches inside the cut and outside because it was deep. Hopefully, I’ll get back in the gym and start working again soon.

“I’m hoping to get on the next Maidstone show on May 6th. I’ll speak with my team and my manager Joe [Elfidh] and see what he says about getting on that.

“I made the super-lightweight limit quite easy so probably go down to lightweight for future fights. I’ll speak to my trainer Ray [Askew] and strength and conditioning coach to see what they think.”

There was a huge after-party following the show at The Gallery nightclub in Maidstone where Gibbo is employed.

“I sold just over 200 tickets sold,” he estimated. “The support was amazing and I can’t thank everyone who came enough. It’d be nice to sell that much every time!”

Gibbo’s teammate Oli Edwards moved up to 5-0 on the same show with an outstanding performance against Scott Hillman (0-17).

Despite never having his hand raised in all 16 professional contests, the 35-year-old had never been stopped until he met with Edwards on the last weekend in February.

The 22-year-old put in an intelligent and mature performance to stop the Eastbourne resident with less than 30seconds remaining in the third-round.

It was the 160-pounder’s second consecutive TKO win having blasted out former foe Laszlo Kovacs (9-4) in just 24-seconds in his last outing in October 2016.

Gibbo heaped praise upon his teammate and main sparring partner from the Invicta Gym, “Oli done really well, the fella was covering up a lot but Oli tapped away and opened him up. He showed a lot of maturity in there and he didn’t rush it, he was finding the openings and working the angles.

“I was pleased to see a lot of the stuff he’s been working on in the gym came off for him.”

Gibbo further credited the Invicta Gym where the pair hone their craft, “We’re getting a lot of people coming to the gym now and on Sundays we get a lot of pros from other gyms coming down to spar like Grant Dennis and Martin Hillman.”

The aforementioned Hillman (9-3) secured his ninth win with a points victory over Polish opponent Kamil Jaworek (3-5).

The 25-year-old featherweight from Sidcup is looking to challenge for the Southern Area featherweight title next, having already experienced the 10-round championship contest at the weight above when he took on Boy Jones last November.

The talented boxer is looking to challenge for Southern Area honours again at his natural fight weight at 126lbs.

Richard Harrison (2-13) and Darren Snow (4-11-1) kicked off the proceedings in a four-round light-heavyweight contest. Harrison, 31 from Surrey, prevailed on points, doubling his win count.

Unbeaten super-featherweight Chris Matthews (6-0) continued his unbeaten streak with a points win over 34-year-old Russ Midgley (1-14-2) from Yorkshire.

For tickets to the next show, visit facebook.com/JEsportsnetwork/ or call 07883 943994