Manchester’s boxing barber, Rhys Roberts, proved head and shoulders (sorry) above Georgia’s George Gachechiladze as he claimed the vacant International Masters featherweight crown at the Castle Leisure Centre in Bury on Saturday night. The fleet-footed Mancunian won every session to claim a 100-90 verdict from referee Steve Gray after ten rounds of cat-and-mouse exchanges to earn his first professional title.
The 21-year-old Roberts (8st 11lbs), who bares a striking resemblance to a young Ivan Calderon, boxed on the back foot in the main and popped the plodding Gachechiladze (8st 11 ½ lbs) with single shots as the face-first Georgian walked forward in straight lines. Rhys, trained by Pat Barrett, looked particularly impressive when putting his shots together and nailed Gachechiladze with three clawing rights in the third which reminded me of Floyd Mayweather in full cry.
Without wishing to get carried way though, Rhys still has plenty to learn and was briefly knocked off balance by a right hand-left hook combination by Gachechiladze in round four. In the main though Roberts remained one step ahead of the limited Georgian, catching him coming in with the jab and occasionally drilling him with left hooks and straight rights over the top as the action became somewhat predicable.
One concern I have about Rhys is just how often he held inside which arguably should have resulted in a warning from referee Gray. Roberts never looked like stopping Gachechiladze, who was halted in six rounds by Craig Lyon on his previous visit to Britain in April, but still won with relative ease. The stylish youngster’s longterm future is expected to be at super-bantamweight but he’ll need to develop his power and strength over the next 12 months before he is ready to step up to British title level.
On the undercard, Norwich’s Danny McIntosh (13st) recorded a third round stoppage over the normally durable Hastings Rasani (14st 6). Danny, taking part in his first contest since stopping Tony Oakey in February, was a little sloppy early on and had to ship a couple of rights from the much heavier Rasani. McIntosh, now trained exclusively by the Ingles, emphasised his developing power by ending matters in round three.
A tangle of feet saw Rasani tumble to the canvas whereby he was sportingly helped to his feet by McIntosh. Almost immediately after the restart, a short right buckled Rasani’s legs and a follow-up attack from McIntosh prompted referee John Latham to step in. Hastings, as he lay with his back against the ropes, protested bitterly and in his defence he did seem to smother most of Danny’s follow-up blows. The eventual outcome never seemed in doubt though. McIntosh now 12-1 (6), and beaten only by Nathan Cleverly, would be an interesting test for Commonwealth light-heavyweight king Tony Bellew but is believed to have already rejected the opportunity to take on the big-punching scouser in December.
Oldham’s Commonwealth light-middleweight champion Craig Watson (11st 2lbs) gained a useful workout ahead of his impending rematch with John O’Donnell for the vacant British welterweight crown with an eight-round points win over Vasile Surcica (11st 5lbs). Southpaw Watson boxed within himself but managed to register a flash final round knockdown with a left hand against his Romanian opponent to seal an 80-71 verdict from referee Gray.
Watson, 19-3 (8), has now won six in a row since dropping a disputed split decision against O’Donnell to surrender his Commonwealth welterweight crown in April 2009. This was Surcica’s, 13-31-2, eighth straight defeat but the Romanian always mixes in good company.
Maxine McCarthy W PTS 4 Polina Pencheva – featherweight
Andrew Patterson W RTD 3 Joe Collins - welterweight
Tom Doran W TKO 1 Terry Adams - light-middleweight