Liverpool has gone from strength to strength the past few years and has grown significantly every season. A large part of this is almost certainly due to the successes of Merseysiders on both the domestic as well as world scene, fighters such as Derry Matthews, the Smith Brothers – Paul, Stephen, Liam and Callum, Tony Bellew etc. and all the championships they’ve held over the years certainly has to be a major factor in the growth of the sport in the City.
A clear example of just how much the sport is blossoming in Liverpool is that last weekend there were three shows in the City, one of these, the latest offering from Kyle Gallagher’s Victory Fight Club, a nine bout pro show at the Jubilee Sports Bank, featured no less than eight debutants.
Before I get onto the actual fights, I have to say that whilst a Londoner, I’ve attended many events in the City over the years, everything from Kevin Mitchell versus John Murray back in 2011 to numerous events, including small hall shows, every year since and to put it mildly find that the local fans make even a small hall show, that has just four and six rounder bouts on the card, have an atmosphere close to that achieved at the biggest of World Championship showdowns anywhere else.
The fans there are the most supportive, vocal and respectful to opponents I’ve come across – they make the events almost as much as the fighters and the fights themselves.
OK onto the fights now.
Opening fight of the night see two local debutants, Bradley Muldoon and Kyle McNicholas, in action in a four rounder.
For the first minute or so of the opening round both lads were really quite tentative in their approach, just hanging out the odd jab now and again, however that all changed after referee Chris Kelly called the lads together and had a quick word in the ears and what then followed was all action.
McNicholas, was tight in his defense and very precise in his approach, landing some good stiff jabs as well as some excellent straight rights that penetrated Muldoon’s tight guard.
Muldoon on the other hand was much busier in his approach, letting rip with big rights and looping haymakers at every opportunity.
As I previously noted Muldoon was the busier of the two and after four action filled rounds it was his hand that referee Chris Kelly held aloft, having scored the bout 40-37 in Muldoon’s favor.
Second bout of the night see Warrington’s Ben Hough in action against Belfast’s Ryan Kilpatrick in a four round Cruiserweight contest.
Unlike in the previous bout there was no tentative opening period, it was all action right from the off.
Hough utilized his height and reach advantage to get land some really good lefts and rights, but Kilpatrick just shrugged them off before stepping in to land even bigger shots of his own. There was so much back and forth action throughout the first it was almost impossible to split the pair, so to my view it was drawn.
Kilpatrick came out hard and fast at the beginning of the second, backing up his taller opponent before letting rip with a flurry of around twenty big left and right hands. Hough though just covered up and when the opportunity arose would counter with a solid jab or right to the body.
Kilpatrick slowed enough after the initial multi-shot attack, to open the door for Hough to take control, utilizing his solid jabs and one-twos to the body for the rest of the round.
More of the same in the third and fourth, Hough calmly stalking the Irishman before letting rip with some pin point accurate shots to body and head. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all one-way traffic, anything but with Kilpatrick landing some seriously big shots, just Hough was the busier, enough so to secure a good 39-37 points victory.
Next up was an all Merseyside affair featuring debuting Paul Evans against four-bout veteran Paul Peers.
Peers was coming into this fight with a sensational stoppage victory over Jak Johnson a couple of weeks prior and was clearly fired up for this Merseyside Derby.
Right from the off Peers just strode into centre ring and signaled his intentions with a vicious opening double-handed combination to the body. Evans didn’t seem too concerned and countered with a good stiff jab..
Throughout the first round Evans utilized his height and reach advantage to keep the hard charging Peers at arms length whenever possible, unfortunately for him Peers just bided his time and let rip with big double-handed combinations whenever the opportunity arose.
More of the same in round two, but in the third it was Evans who bossed the ring convincingly, albeit mainly letting rip with single shots. Peers seemed to be happy to wait for openings before once again targeting the body of his opponent, just in this round those opportunities were few and far between.
More of the same in the fourth and I have to admit I had thought Evans had more or less done enough to secure the final round and get a draw for his efforts, however that was not the case, referee Chris Kelly scored the bout 39-37 in favor of Peers.
Definitely Fight of the Night in my view and have to say was mightily impressed with Evans, I really liked his style, which is very similar to 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Luke Campbell in his early pro days, definitely one to watch for the future, as is Peers, I know I’ve said that about Peers previously, but this kid is as talented and tough as they come, he just seems to be at his best when he’s up against a class fighter, as he was on Saturday night.
The fourth fight of the night was another that featured a pair of debuting fighters, in this case Liverpool’s Scott McIntyre and Liam Preece from Blackwood in the South Wales Valleys in a four round Middleweight contest.
Another closely fought, all action thriller, both fighters going at it hammer and tongs right from the opening bell.
The first couple of rounds both lads were right on their game, showcasing their packed arsenals of shots, but come the third it was McIntyre that shifted up a gear, landing pin point accurate shots to the body of Preece, the Welsh lad wasn’t going to back down though and kept coming forward and countering with some gusto.
Then, just as the bell to end the third stanza was about to chime, McIntyre landed a huge shot to the body, sending Preece to the canvas right on the third minute.
Preece made the count but looked to be struggling a little in the corner, but still the tough Welshman came out for the fourth and final round. Initially it was Preece taking the fight to McIntyre, but about thirty seconds or so in McIntyre started to back the Welshman up, before letting rip with big shots to the body once more, Preece tried to fight is way out but McIntyre just kept coming and lands yet another big shot to the body to send Preece to the canvas once more. It was clear Preece was in distress, leaving referee Chris Kelly no option but to call a halt to the proceedings on the 49 second mark.
The fifth fight see another debut fighter Widnes, Cheshire’s Jamie Oldfield in action against Latvian three-bout veteran Edgars Sazanovics in a four rounder.
Right from the off Oldfield took the fight to the Latvian, barely giving Sazanovics a chance to settle before letting rip with big shots to body and head. The Latvian tried to work off his jab to keep the rampaging Oldfield at bay, but the Widnes lad was having none of it and just kept targeting the body at every opportunity, no surprise with the power Oldfield was putting in his shots that it was just a matter of time before Sazanovics was sent to the canvas and sure enough just a minute in the Latvian was down.
Sazanovics made the count, but on the restart Oldfield just proceeded to walk his man down and carry on from where he left off and as sure as eggs is eggs Oldfield let rip with another seriously big shot to the body, Sazanovics went down for the second time. The Latvian tried his hardest to rise, but just doubled up in pain again, leaving referee Chris Kelly but to wave the fight off on the one minute and forty seven seconds mark.
The much-anticipated Jonny McConville versus Michael Kelly, in a six round Super Welterweight contest was the sixth fight of the night.
McConville has garnered a bit of a reputation, having stopped two of his previous opponents and forcing another to retire injured after just one round. Kelly though is highly experienced and durable.
Right from the off McConville strode across the ring taking the fight to Kelly, the Irishman is as savvy as they come and used his jab effectively, but as the round reached the minute mark McConville began to back Kelly up and then let rip with a huge combination to body and head that sent the Irishman down…hard.
Kelly landed prone partly over the bottom rope and looked really dazed, referee Chris Kelly took no chances and waved the fight off on the one minute and 20 second mark and summoned the doctor and medical team into the ring.
After initial checks in the ring, Kelly was taken to the medical centre for further checks. Later it was announced that the Irishman was fine, so much so that a little later he was ringside cornering for fellow Irishman Marty Kayes.
Seventh contest of the night see another debuting local fighter, Mitchell Walsh in action against Latvia’s Dmitrijs Ovsjannikovs.
The first round see Walsh convincingly dominate his more experienced opponent for virtually the full three minutes, Ovsjannikovs covered up and countered when ever the opportunity arose, but not enough to prevent Walsh easily securing the round.
More of the same in the early part of the second stanza, but around the minute mark Ovsjannikovs let rip with a big right, which forced Walsh to take a step back, the Latvian then kept coming forward and backed Walsh into his own corner before letting rip with a double handed assault, after about ten or so shots landed undefended referee Chris Kelly stepped in to stop the fight, on the one minute and thirty second mark. Walsh was so unsteady on his feet it was clear to all the referee had done the right thing, although Walsh didn’t agree and made his feelings crystal clear.
The eighth bout of the night see another local debut, this time Kirkby’s Joe Bretland in action against Belfast’s Marty Kayes.
The opening round was a cracker, Bretland taking the fight to the Irishman, now I’m sure I don’t have to say this but Kayes is a true battler and was more than happy to go toe-to-toe with Bretland.
More of the same in the second and third rounds, with Bretland controlling most of each round, don’t get me wrong whilst Bretland was the busier, Kayes kept his younger opponent in check, countering mainly, but occasionally instigating a short frantic toe-to-toe session.
The fourth was a much closer fought affair and as with the previous rounds Bretland took the fight to the Irishman. After four excellent rounds of boxing it came as no surprise that it was Bretland’s hand held aloft by referee Chris Kelly, who had scored the bout 40-36 in favor of the Kirkby lad.
The final fight of the night see Craig Kennerdale return to the ring almost a year to the day since his last fight, to take on Latvia’s Dinars Skripkins in a four rounder.
Right from the off Kennerdale took the fight to the Latvian, Skripkins though is always up for a fight and was more than happy to exchange punches in centre ring.
Kennerdale used his height and reach advantage to great effect, going in and letting rip with fast combinations and big right hands before making the slightest movement back to avoid absorbing a counter for the Latvian lad.
Skripkins, kept his cool and waited for any opportunity to display his boxing skills, which he did on a number of occasions, just not enough to prevent Kennerdale comfortably securing the round.
More of the same in the second, with Kennerdale dominating to a large degree and Skripkins taking any and every opportunity he could find to land a decent shot or two.
Much the same in the third, but with even more aggression from Kennerdale, who had shifted up a gear and was forcing Skripkins back before letting rip with sensational combinations to body and head.
As the final minute of the round beckoned Kennerdale shifted up yet another gear and let rip with a double handed flurry of shots that forced Skripkins to cover up, which just encouraged Kennerdale to drop in even heavier shots, which hadn’t gone unnoticed by referee Chris Kelly, who initially had given the Latvian a little leeway to see if he would fight his way out but now with even bigger shots landing decided to stop the contest on the two minute and nineteen seconds mark to prevent Skripkins taking further punishment.
What a great night of fights, congratulations to Kyle Gallagher, his team and all the fighters as well as the fans and would advise taking a leaf out of my book and put the next Victory Fight Club’s event in your diary now, Jubilee Sports Bank on Saturday the 30th June 2018, as Mr. Gallagher has a mooted sixteen bout show lined up and if it’s half as good as last Saturday’s it will be a ‘Don’t Miss Event’.