Hellraiser’s second night of boxing at the Camden Centre finished early – by 9pm to be precise. For a seven fight card, that’s unusual – only two four rounders went the distance, and the main fight between Ben Murphy and Phil Gill lasted just over two and a half minutes. But punters were still treated to a fair share of excitement and plenty of knockdowns as the Collision Course bill lived up to its name.
Back in October 2010, Minster's Dan Woodgate (7-1), who fights on the light heavy/cruiserweight cusp, suffered his only loss in his second pro bout against Hampshire's Sam Couzens (8-9).
Since then, Woodgate has notched up five straight wins, including a spectacular knockout of Paul Davis last year at the Coronet Theatre. Tonight was an opportunity to avenge his only loss, and he didn't let it pass.
Couzens (12st 8lbs) tried to march Woodgate down in the first, and after an explosive start where it looked as if anything might happen (these are both big, heavy-handed chaps) Woodgate settled into boxing on the back foot for a fairly even first round, but was wary of Couzens' advances.
When Woodgate (12st 10lbs) got his combinations working in the second, for me, the outcome of the fight was clear. Couzens was severely wobbled by a four punch salvo, similar to the one that sent Paul Davis to sleep last year, and did well to see the end of round two.
He recovered a little during the break, only to succumb to more hurtful combinations as Woodgate followed his jab up superbly, following barked instructions from ringside to the letter. Bunches of accurate punches were too much for Couzens to deal with, and the fight was rightly stopped at 1.28 of the third with Couzens taking severe punishment. He would be the first to admit that Woodgate has improved considerably since their last meeting.
After outpointing Robin Deakin and Kristian Laight in his first two pro bouts, Ben Day (3-0) from Devon faced his first import in Latvian Olafs Sirmanis (0-4), and the styles made for an exciting fight.
An energetic start saw some strange punches being thrown - both fighters seemed to replace their jabs with lunging left and right crosses. Sirmanis (9st 10lbs) was perhaps the more accurate, and despite going down at the end of the first (no count) was buoyed by his performance and came out with even more purpose for the second. He put Day (10st) down with what looked like a close right hand, but the man from Devon was straight back on his feet, disappointed to be taking a count.
So disappointed in fact that as Sirmanis went to follow up, Day turned his man superbly and delivered a cluster to send the Latvian down. One each, and Day was on his way - in the third, he was fully in control of the bundle, putting Sirmanis on the canvas three times before referee Mark Green waved it off a minute into the round.
Ben Day runs the Ringtone Health and Fitness Gym in Euston, and was well supported at the Camden Centre. His story is an example of how the sport of boxing can turn lives around. At 24, after a troubled upbringing, he was on the brink of alchoholism, but was introduced to boxing and used it, coupled with determination and willpower, to beat his demons into submission.
A late starter to the professional ranks at 33, Day now shares his life experiences with others, and is exactly the type of ambassador that the sport needs. Whatever he manages to achieve in boxing, his most important mission has already been accomplished.
Hove welterweight Lloyd Ellett (4-0) faced Liam Grifiths (1-12) from Bognor Regis, and preceded to batter him around the ring before Griffiths (11st 1) started to cling on for dear life.
Trained by former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champ Scott Welch, Ellett (11st) is an exciting pressure fighter who places his shots with a fair amount of power. You could see why Griffiths tried to stay out of trouble, and in the second referee Mark Green took a point from him for persistent holding as Ellett dominated the action in between.
There was no let up the pressure coming from Ellett in the third and fourth rounds, but evasion tactics and more holding from Griffiths took it to referee Mark Green's scorecard - a very lop sided 40-35 for Ellett. Griffiths didn't throw much throughout, and the referee would have been justified in stopping it earlier. Target practice for Ellett, who is one to watch at welter.
I was impressed by Islington light welter Charlie Rice (2-0), who looked cool, calm and collected as he entered the ring for his second pro bout against Latvian Ivans Levickis (1-4). Powerful hooks from Rice (10st 2lbs) in the first were answered by the plucky Latvian, but the Islington's mans work was delivered with an edge of ferocity not apparent in his eyes as he boxed.
Rice likes to get in close and unload to the body, which made the difference. Although throwing plenty back, Levickis (9st 12lbs) couldn't find any kind of punch to keep Rice off. In the third, a vicious body shot made Levickis turn away and wince in pain.
A textbook example of how to finish someone off followed - as Levickis turned, Rice moved in and swiftly delivered a left right to his head to send him crashing down. He rose bravely, but as he was doubled up in pain from the body shot and dazed and confused by the follow up, Jeff Hinds waved it off at 1.33.
Insert semi-amusing Rice-related line here (Rice comes to the boil to stop plucky Latvian, Levickis special fried by Rice, etc - I couldn't think of a really good one - suggestions on a postcard).
Bushey light welter Liam Shinkwin (5-0-1) was another fighter with an opportunity to avenge a blot on his copybook. Way back in 2009, in his third fight, he drew 57 each with Reading's tough Ibrar Riyaz (4-33-1).
Shinkwin's boxing career got underway again last year after a two year hiatus with a very close four rounder against Sid Razak, in which both fighters saw the canvas.
Riyaz (10st) looked relaxed as usual, and matched Shinkwin's workrate in the first, if not his accuracy. Although untroubled by most of the punches coming his way, Riyaz started to mark up a little as Shinkwin used the ring to control where Riyaz went, targetting him economically.
Riyaz doesn't make a habit of getting stopped, and it never looked like he would tonight either. Shinkwin's workrate and evasive movement made him the clear winner, as Riyaz wasn't able to nail him down and unload. I gave Shinkwin every round, referee Jeff Hinds gave Riyaz (presumably) the first, scoring it 39-37.
The final bout of an early night saw Elliott Matthews (3-0) from Watford bludgeon Latvian Aleksandrs Radjuks (4-9-2) into submission with 1.55 gone in the first.
After a little bit of trading up-close, which saw some crafty footwork from Matthews (11st 9lbs) as he found his range, Radjuks (12st 2lbs) succumbed to a straight right which landed on the button and put him down. Referee Mark Green immediately waved it off at 1.55 of the first.
The early night allowed for a detour on the way home to grab some first class fish and chips and a few cold lagers. Cheers.
Click here for Ben Murphy v Phil Gill fight report
Pictures by Bernard Miller for BoxRec News