Remembering 2015: A year in review
The final bell has sounded on another year and it’s been an eventful one for Welsh boxing with a new world ruler crowned, former champions rising again and new forces beginning to establish their place in the sport. With the British Boxing Board of Control [BBBoC] set to hold their first Welsh Area Council award ceremony at the start of 2016, BoxingWales.com won’t run our annual end-of-year awards. Instead, we have sorted through the 195 original articles published on the website in 2015 and decided to give a run-down of the biggest stories, re-capping on how they were told at the time…
1) Doran dazzles to win Prizefighter – 16 February
In the first major event of the year, North Wales star Tom Doran (14-0, 4KO) breathed new life in to the second chapter of his career with a ‘Dazzlin’ display to win the 34th Prizefighter tournament. The middleweight knocked out the heavy handed Cello Renda (27-11-2, 12KO) in the final of Matchroom Sport’s competition to collect a £34,000 prize winning pot at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens venue, live on Sky Sports. Read the full story here.
2) Turley to get surprise shot at former world champion Moreno – 3 March
In one of world boxing’s most surprising developments, Cefn Fforest’s Robbie Turley (14-5, 2KO) was scheduled for a surprise shot against a former world champion. The 28-year-old agreed to face Anselmo Moreno (35-3-1, 12KO) in a non-title eight round contest in Sheffield. However, when funding from the Panama government fell through, so did the bout. Read the full story here. 3)
Lewis Rees retires from boxing – 19 March
One of Welsh boxing’s biggest talents retired at just 25-years-old, three months after suffering the first defeat of his career, dropping an eight round to wily journeyman William Warburton. Despite still holding the Welsh Area welterweight title, it would be Lewis ‘Rhondda Boy’ Rees’ (9-1-1, 5KO) final fight as he admitted that he had ‘fallen out of love’ with boxing. Read the full story here.
4) ‘The Kid’ comes of age with Camacho KO – 13 March
Five months after the much-talked about ‘bitegate’ episode, Cardiff’s Craig ‘The Kid’ Kennedy (11-0, 6KO) came of age with a savage seventh round knockout of London’s Wadi ‘Machoman’ Camacho (12-5, 8KO) in a back-and-forth barnstormer at the Newport Centre, live on Eurosport. In the referee’s final instructions before the rematch, cruiserweight Kennedy was told, “it’s not a street fight” by Reece Carter when he refused to touch gloves but it quickly commended in to a slugfest, before he provided a conclusive answer to the ‘what would have happened?’ questions. Read the full story here.
5) Welsh Elite Championships conclude in Cardiff – 4 April
Pembroke’s Morrison brothers, Kyle (56KG) and Nico (60KG), scored a family double in the lower weight categories as both collected Welsh titles in exciting points wins. Meanwhile, Splott’s Jamie Evans (69KG) took his first senior title and remained unbeaten in domestic championships, taking his 10th tournament win at various age categories. Heads of the Valleys’ Darren Hughes (91+KG) collected the super-heavyweight vest with a decision win against Premier’s Liam Whitehouse. Less than 24 hours later, Hughes played a full 80 minutes of rugby in the Welsh Principality Premiership. Cross Keys RFC gave reason for another celebration with their away day derby win against Newport RFC and the hooker even crossed the try line. Read the full story here.
6) Selby creates history by becoming Wales’ 12th world champion – 30 May
Lee Selby achieved (21-1, 8KO) a lifelong goal by dethroning IBF world featherweight belt-holder Evgeny Gradovich at the O2 Arena in London, live on Sky Sports Box Office. After eight rounds of showcasing the slickest of his skills, Selby was awarded a unanimous technical decision when a blood soaked Gradovich was deemed unable to continue by the ringside doctor. The Barry Town native became Wales’ 12th ever world champion and the third in the featherweight division, following in the footsteps of Howard Winstone and Steve Robinson. Read the full story here.
7) Cordina crowned European champion – 15 August
“Yes! Get in there!” were the words screamed by Cardiff’s Joe ‘Welsh Wizard’ Cordina as he was crowned the lightweight (60KG) champion of Europe. After five fights in 10 days, the 23-year-old stand-out amateur claimed the gold medal at the European Championships in Bulgaria with a unanimous decision points victory over Georgia’s Otar Eransyan. It was Cordina’s second medal at a major event in the space of 12 months, having collected a bronze at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Cordina was the only one of Team GB’s five finalists to win a gold medal and he followed in the footsteps of his countrymen Fred Evans and Andrew Selby, who won the 2011 European Championships and progressed to the Olympics. With Rio 2016 around the corner, Cordina will be keen to continue on their path. Read the full story here.
8) WBC make historic decision to overturn Hope’s controversial draw to a win – 16 September
Merthyr Tydfil’s Kerry Hope (23-7, 2KO) was been the focus of boxing history as the WBC awarded him a win to overturn his highly controversial draw decision against Petchsuriya Singwancha (15-11, 8KO). The sanctioning body suspended and ordered the retraining of two judges who entered bizarrely inaccurate scorecards in Hong Kong after Hope’s manager Matt Clark made an official complaint to President Mauricio Sulaiman. Hope, who is also ranked with the WBO, was retrospectively given the WBC Asian middleweight title and it extended his winning streak to three since relocating his family to Australia. Read the full story here.
9) BBBoC Welsh Area Council to host first ever awards – 2 October
In an exclusive interview with BoxingWales.com, the Welsh Area Council of the British Boxing Board of Control revealed plans to host their first ever awards ceremony. The night at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff is set to be held at the start of 2016 to coincide with the 106th anniversary of Jim Driscoll’s historic world title bid in America. It will honour the Welsh Fighter, Fight and Prospect of the Year, with more awards given in categories yet to be decided. Read the full story here.
10) Selby comes through tricky title defence in America – 15 October
Barry Town’s Lee Selby (22-1, 8KO) travelled stateside to make his American debut and was forced to call on all of his skillset to see off three-weight Mexican world champion Fernando Montiel (54-5-2, 39KO). The recently crowned belt-holder had recently signed with the influential American advisor Al Haymon and made the first defence of his IBF world featherweight title on the groundbreaking Premier Boxing Champions [PBC] series. Broadcast on ESPN, the usually slick St Joseph’s Boxing Club member was kept on his toes by all of Montiel’s experience as he bid to make a name for himself to tempt the division’s other champions in to unification fights. Read the full story here.
11) Fonfara overcomes Clev in classic Chicago war – 20 October
Welshman Nathan Cleverly (29-3, 15KO) couldn’t have imagined receiving so much credit for a loss but that’s exactly what happened when he went to war with the incredibly tough Andrzej Fonfara (28-3, 16KO), losing a competitive unanimous decision. After surprising everyone to establish a clear lead at the halfway mark, Cleverly was pegged back in a brutal seventh session but he dug in for the final five rounds as Fonfara came on strong. The light-heavyweights set a divisional record for the amount of punches thrown and landed in a genuine contender for the 2015 world Fight of the Year as 4,000 Polish fans cheered them on in the Chicago cauldron. It was the third defeat of Cleverly’s 10-year career but he took steps towards redeeming himself as many observers wondered if the 29-year-old talent still harbored the fire in his belly. Cefn Fforest’s former Commonwealth, British, European and WBO world champion suffered a badly broken nose and grotesquely swollen ear. However, with his fighting spirit returned and with his injuries now mended, Cleverly will be good to go at world level again. Read the full story here.
12) Andrew Selby makes his professional debut with a brutal bang – 31 October
Andrew Selby (3-0, 2KO), Wales’ most decorated amateur of all time, showed that his professional career may possess just as much promise as he ploughed through durable Haji Juma, twice dropping the African at the Newport Centre in less than 12 minutes. Sanigar Events ambitiously matched Barry Town’s ex-Olympian, quadruple European and double World Championships medalist in an eight rounder as he started his path to emulating the achievements of his older brother, IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby. 27-year-old Selby, who celebrated his birthday on Christmas Day, continued to record victories against the previously unbeaten Jozsef Ajtai and former world title challenger Everth Briceno in a five week period before the new year was out. Read the full story here.
13) Enzo Maccarinelli ends the legend of Roy Jones Jnr – 12 December
Despite future Hall of Fame entrant Roy Jones Jnr (62-9, 45KO) being 12 years past his best, Swansea’s former world champion (41-7, 33KO) entered their Moscow meeting as a betting underdog. Jones Jnr had recently become a Russian citizen but Enzo Maccarinelli refused to play the part as a sacrificial lamb. After testing the waters for three rounds, Maccarinelli inevitably exposed Jones Jnr’s vulnerabilities in the fourth round. An uppercut sent the American staggering to all fours and when he returned upright, he soon returned horizontal to the canvas… but this time motionless. The bout, which was originally billed as a WBA super world title fight, was met with cynicism but ended with the admirable respect that’s unique to pugilism – Maccarinelli perched on a knee as his cornerman offered medical assistance to a faded superstar. Read the full story here.
14) Williams rebooted and bursts back on to the scene – 19 December
After 13 months of worrying that one of Welsh boxing’s best talents may never fight again, Clydach Vale’s Liam Williams (13-0-1, 8KO) made a long awaited return. ‘Dully’ and his re-healed right hand were fully functioning to defend his Commonwealth strap and collect the British belt in devastating fashion. It looked like the rebooted ‘Machine’ had never been away at the Manchester Arena as he hunted Kris Carslaw (22-6, 5KO) down, forcing the veteran to the floor at the end of the opener. Ten seconds in to the second stanza, it was over and Carslaw was face down on the floor, courtesy of a single chilling jab – an achievement that numerous world contenders had failed to achieve beforehand. The win stole some of the limelight of another super-welterweight on the show as Liverpool’s Liam Smith defended his WBO bauble with a stoppage of the unknown Jimmy Kelly further up the bill. It also capped off a fantastic win for Gary Lockett’s Cardiff Bay-based gym, who won 21 of their 23 fights with 11 early finishes. Read the full story here.