Two-thirds of the Walsh brothers, Michael and Ryan, enjoyed emphatic first round stoppages as professional boxing made a welcome return to Norwich at the Norfolk Showground.
Titled ‘The Homecoming at the Showground’ this small hall show, promoted by Shamrock Boxing, was the first boxing event to be staged in Norfolk since Anthony Mezaache claimed Jon Thaxton’s EBU lightweight title over three years ago.
The Norfolk Showground was far from sold out but the decibels were raised when it was time for the Walsh brothers to enter the arena thanks to the Walsh’s loyal and vocal supporters, the 'Farmy Army'.
With Liam Walsh having appeared on the much disputed David Haye-Dereck Chisora bill in July, it was good to see Ryan and Michael finally back inside a boxing ring.
Their careers have been almost non-existent of late: Ryan was last seen in action nearly 12 months ago when he was crowned English super-bantamweight champion, and Michael hadn’t boxed in almost two years.
But it has been tough times for the Walshs with the untimely death of their father, John, who died just before Christmas last year.
An emotionally charged Michael Walsh, topping the seven-fight bill, claimed the vacant International Masters super-featherweight title by stopping George Gachechiladze, but came within a whisker of losing his unbeaten record.
You could see from the opening bell that Michael was fighting on pure instinct as he came out swinging wildly at his opponent.
The Cromer-based fighter landed with a right hand but as he attempted to throw another, the Georgian countered with a solid right hook to floor Walsh.
Walsh beat the mandatory eight-count but Gacheciladze, 25, could now sense a surprise victory and stepped on the gas throwing shots to the head and body.
He landed with a decent uppercut but Walsh gritted his teeth to come storming back.
With both men trading leather in a reckless slugfest, Gacheciladze got caught with a hefty hook to the temple. This was not a fight for the purist.
There was nothing calm nor measured to Michael’s work as he continued to throw wild shots until a swinging right hand sent the visitor down for a second time right on the bell.
Gachecliadze never made it back to his corner and was counted out by referee Mark Green at 3:10. Wild scenes ensued at ringside by jubilant members of the Farmy Army.
Trainer Graham Everett and Ryan Walsh felt it necessary to came over to near the fans at ringside just to make sure it didn’t get too out of hand.
Michael Walsh, 28, remains unbeaten after nine fights and all by knockout.
Michael replicated his brother’s win, who had also won within the first round against Mikheli Gogebashvili, 11-14 (3), from Georgia. Ryan, 14-0 (5), immediately took aim to Mikheli’s liver. It was hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere and Ryan allowed himself to get caught by two decent lefts from the Georgian.
But Walsh was not to be denied and dished up a potent cocktail of right hooks before a sweet right hand sent his opponent down.
To his credit Gogebashvili beat the count but was down again just moments later, this time simply slipping under the pressure of Ryan’s presence.
The Georgian visitor, who was stopped by Lewis Pettitt in two rounds at the Coronet Theatre in April, was out on his feet and when Ryan stepped inside he detonated a flurry of snap shots to head and body. After 2:37 it was all over.
Ryan celebrated with a few victory somersaults in the ring to send the Farmy Army into raptures.
Cambridgeshire’s Alfie Smith, 5-0 (1), looks set to be the latest talent to emerge from the Peacock Gym in Canning Town, as he impressed in a 40-37 points victory over Birmingham’s Andrew Patterson, 5-33 (4) over the scheduled four rounds.
The southpaw, with 50 fights under his belt as an amateur, possesses good hand speed, good feet and a left hand that packs a solid punch.
Smith’s intentions were clear from the start as he fired off a series of left and right hooks to the body.
Patterson, 32, was struggling to get to grips with the sheer speed and work rate of Smith. But with Smith favouring the power shots, as opposed to working behind the jab, he left himself open and got caught with a couple of single shots from Patterson.
Smith enjoyed a terrific second session as he got back to basics working behind his southpaw jab.
Patterson, while being distracted downstairs with left and right hooks, lowered his guard and got caught with a sweeping right hand that snapped his head back.
With the 32 year-old stunned, Smith backed him up on to the ropes with some big shots, but Patterson was able to hold on.
His feet firmly planted to the canvas, Smith dished out even more punishing shots in rounds three and four. Credit to Patterson for being able to sustain such gruelling punishment.
Two right hooks followed by an accurate left found their designated target and as the seconds ticked down in the final round, Smith fired off a quick one-two followed by yet another blow to the body.
Smith is an exciting prospect to keep an eye on and moving up to six-threes now beckons for this all-action welterweight.
Norfolk’s Scott Moises returned to winning ways after a three loss streak, cruising to a 40-36 shutout over wily journeyman Kristian Laight over four rounds.
Moises swarmed all over Laight in the opening session and used good aggression by doubling up his jab in the opener.
The 24-year-old continued to press home the advantage by working well behind the jab and even threw in a cheeky Ali shuffle as he grew in confidence.
In the third session Moises landed with a straight right down the pipe, which prompted verbal acknowledgment from Laight, but the Nuneaton man was rarely threatened by Moises power.
Laight was on the receiving end of a couple of useful looking hooks to the body, and Moises had him backed on to the ropes.
He tried in vain with shots to the head and body but Laight was able to use his experience to grab hold of Moises. Scott went all out for a grandstand finish but in the process left himself open and Kristian was able to land with a couple of meaningful punches in the final round.
Super-middleweight Darren Codona made it four wins from four by blasting out Oleksiy Chukov, 3-11 (1), from Lithuania in the first round of their scheduled six-rounder.
Chukov crumbled under a barrage of quick-fire shots to the head and body from the Surrey teenager. The visitor was able to beat the standing eight-count, but the pressure was relentless from Codona and referee Mark Green wisely stopped the fight at two minutes and 45 seconds.
A six round welterweight clash between Norwich’s Nathan Dale and Tottenham’s Mark McKray was the closest contest of the night, as Dale came out the 59-55 winner on Mark Green’s scorecard.
Dale started the opening session lively by throwing some lovely straight rights and a stinging uppercut inside to the mid-drift of McKray.
Dale, 21, also took the second round convincingly with quick double jabs backed up with a solid right hook, as McKray tried his best to keep out of range.
McKray enjoyed a better third round as he began to find success with a string of right hooks to the body. Dale bounced back in the fourth with a walloping overhand right on McKray’s ear.
Dale appeared to take his foot off the gas slightly in the final rounds and that allowed McKray to press the Norwich fighter, and he continued to land with some crunching body shots.
By the final round, reddening to left of Dale’s body was now visible but was able to keep McKray at bay with some neat one-twos. 59-55 was a fair reflection of the fight as Dale advances to 5-0 (1). McKray drops to 2-16 (1).
The night ended and started with a first round stoppage as Derby’s Elvis Dube made light work of Lowestoft’s Paul Davis in a cruiserweight bout scheduled for four-threes.
33-year-old Davis, 2-4 (2), never found his feet as he failed to establish the jab early on. And as soon as Dube, 5-14 (4), stepped forward he made good connection to Davis’ face with a left hook.
That acted merely as a warning sign for Davis and Elvis landed powerfully with a savage right hand.
The ropes helped to keep Davis up, but you could see from his eyes that he clearly didn’t know where he was and the bout was correctly called off after two minutes and 28 seconds.
This was Davis’ second successive first round TKO after being halted by Dan Woodgate at the Coronet Theatre last November.