Heavyweight Tom Little has to seriously think about his next move after being wheeled out to suffer a fifth straight devastating knockout at the hands of Alen Babic.
Plugged as potentially in the fight beforehand, in truth, Little was never likely to avoid the stoppage. The Hatfield man is being put in the ring above his depth time and again.
Little should be dropped back down a level to subside any long-term damage to his health.
Babic did what he had to do and followed Filip Hrgovic, Daniel Dubois, David Price, and Mahammadrasul Majidov in taking out Little with relative ease and significant brutality.
Also, on the bill at the heavyweight limit, Fabio Wardley beat Richard Lartey quicker than Dubois.
Full undercard reports from Conor Benn vs. Sebastian Formella below:
10 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest
FABIO WARDLEY WTKO2 (1:22) v RICHARD LARTEY
(Ipswich, England) (Accra, Ghana)
Fabio Wardley produced a stunning one-punch knockout of Richard Lartey to further enhance his status as one of Britain’s hottest Heavyweight contenders.
The unbeaten 25-year-old was testing himself at a higher level after winning the English Title in the summer, and he dramatically stopped Lartey, even quicker than current British Champion Daniel Dubois.
“The first round took some adjusting,” said Wardley afterward. “I like to use that first round to gather information, figure out my opponent, see where gaps are, see what’s going on. Just analyze the whole situation. I did that, took a few shots doing it, but that’s all part of the game. A bit of that chin check thing was ticked off for me. I can take a bang, and it’s not going to give me too much bother. We got through that first round, and I figured out what I would do from then onwards.
“I stung him with a few jabs, and I always say that those gloves came straight up in front of him. I fought to sting him with one and come around the side. That was the plan, and it came off perfectly. Nobody is ever going to grumble at an early night’s work. I get to go back and chill out now. I need to start getting those rounds in and get tougher tests. I’ve ticked that box of ‘do I have one-punch power?’.
“The comparisons are always going to come. Does knocking out Lartey quicker than Daniel Dubois mean I’m better than him? Does it mean I’d do the same to Daniel? Boxing isn’t that cut and dry. There’s a lot more to it. I take it for what it is. I beat Richard Lartey in two rounds. I’m happy with that performance. I did well, and that’s all you take from it. We keep moving, and we keep working.”
8 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest
ALEN BABIC WTKO3 (2:38) v TOM LITTLE
(Zagreb, Croatia) (Hatfield, England)
Alen Babic toppled Tom Little twice in another brutal knockout win as the Croatian contender continued the blistering start to his Heavyweight career with a sixth straight stoppage.
Babic came charging out in the second round, swinging in spiteful shots as Little roared his defiance, but the Hatfield heavyweight’s resistance was broken in the third.
Little wilted to the canvas after a ferocious cluster of punches, and Babic sensed the end was near, unloading another powerful barrage that dropped his opponent by the ropes, prompting the referee to wave it off.
“My Savage Army, I never lie to you,” Heavyweight bruiser Babic told Matchroom. “If I tell them I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. I said I would do it in the first round, and it should have been in the first round. He was well prepared. He could take a punch. I think I broke both of my knuckles on his head. I can feel it. He can take a punch.
“Nobody can go three rounds with me. I had fuel in my tank for twenty like that. Filip Hrgovic bet against me. I’m so glad he lost money on me. He is my fellow Croat. We live like 2km away from each other. He bet against me. That shows he doesn’t know shit about boxing. He doesn’t know the history of boxing. He’s just a technical guy, a very good technical guy. As soon as the fans come back, I want him.
“I’m going to take Tom back to my Savage Army because he’s a good guy. He’s a good fighter, but he’s not even close to my level. He’s two stone heavier than me. And I would be grateful if you could write that down. I box every day. I don’t do anything out of the ring. My training is old school, boxing, sparring, and pads—just that. I didn’t do a single push up or pull up.
“I’m not faking anything. Hrgovic is a fake. I’m real, and I want to fight. I like fistfights. And I think it was a beautiful fight. I want to give people entertainment. That’s who I am, and I’m always going to be like that. Unless somebody tests me, I’m going to keep knocking them out. Please give me a strong puncher, a knockout artist. You’re going to see the sweet science. I can do it. Yes, I can punch, and I have stamina. I have a strong head. You can’t beat that with muscles.”
6 x 3 mins Middleweight contest
BEN RIDINGS v JEZ SMITH WPTS6 (60-54)
(Bury, England) (Harrow Weald, England)
Harrow Weald’s Jez Smith sealed a shutout points win to end the unbeaten record of Middleweight rival Ben Ridings.
Smith’s superior experience showed from the opening bell as he outworked the rugged Ridings to earn a 60-54 verdict after six rounds from referee Robert Williams.
“I’m over the moon,” Smith said afterward. “I can’t put it into words. But I had a game plan, and I knew what I was going to do. I knew I had a good game plan, so I stuck to my boxing. I think it was a dominant performance. The referee didn’t give him a round. If I can box like that and do that when I’m not even 30% fit, imagine what I can do when I’m fully fit. I took this fight on five days’ notice. I’m not taking anything away from Ben. I knew I was levels above him. I’ve hardly been in the gym. I’m going to dedicate myself to this craft. And I’m going to be back with another win on my record.
“I’m a fighting man. As soon as I got the call to fight live on Sky Sports on a massive bill like this, I jumped at the chance. I’ll fight anyone. I’m going to get back down to Light-Middleweight. Me and Ted Cheeseman have unfinished business from the amateurs. We had a fight called off after one round as there was fighting in the arena. That would be an electric fight with fireworks. If he wants it, he can have it. I’ve put myself on the map, so hopefully, I can start using these big shows more.
“I knew tonight was my night. I knew I had to go in there and put on a boxing performance. And I believe that’s what I did. He hardly touched me. I claimed every round. I think this is the biggest arena that I’ve fought in so far in my career. I’m ecstatic and over the moon. I want to say a massive thank you to Eddie Hearn and Matchroom for giving me this opportunity. I’ll be ready for the call when it comes again.”
10 x 3 mins vacant English Bantamweight Title
LIAM DAVIES WRTD6 v SEAN CAIRNS
(Telford, England) (Liverpool, England)
Donnington’s Liam Davies secured the vacant English Bantamweight Title with a stylish stoppage victory over Sean Cairns in the evening’s opening bout.
The undefeated 24-year-old caught Cairns regularly with straight right hands, forcing the Liverpudlian’s corner to call a halt to the fight after the sixth round.
“And the new English Bantamweight Champion sounds good,” Davies told Matchroom afterward. “It is music to my ears. I’m just happy. I knew I could do it. It was just about getting in there and getting the job done, ensuring that everything went to plan. I felt like it did tonight.
“I still had a lot left in the tank. But I wasn’t slowing down for anything. I was building up the pressure and putting my punches together. You’ve got to give it to him. He’s as tough as anything. He kept coming and coming! That’s why I didn’t go mad with it. I respected how tough he was and how game he was. Full respect for Sean, and I wish him all the best in the future.
“I’d give myself an eight out of ten. I know there’s still more to come from me. I hope I get the chance to come again and show another level because this is just the start for me. I’m looking to build and get more belts around my waist.
“The show in Telford didn’t go ahead, but I landed on my feet fighting live on Sky Sports here, winning my first title. This is a memory that I will never forget and hopefully something that we can build on. I don’t fold under pressure. If anything, I rise to it. I rise to the occasion, and next time, I’ll rise again with a bigger and better performance for another belt, hopefully. That’s the plan.
“I’m here to impress, and I felt like I did tonight. I did what I intended to do. I won in style. Most people would have gone over. I hit him hard, and you’ve got to respect him for taking those shots. I don’t think most Bantamweights could have taken that power. Roll on whoever is next because I’m coming now.”