Undercard report: Five non-title fights excite on Cyclone Promotions Welsh debut
Cyclone Promotions’ first show in Wales at the Ice Arena in Cardiff Bay was supported by five non-title fights. In the night’s opener, Cardiff’s Mitch Buckland (11-0, 2KO) was more aggressive than usual and it almost forced a last minute stoppage against France’s Mohamed Larabi (4-8-1, 2KO).
The southpaw, who settled for a points victory, has often relied on his counter-punching skills to out-smart opponents on the front foot. However, he was keen to give Larabi a rough welcoming to his home city like the worst tourist guide in the world.
The super-lightweight was ending seven months of inactivity, last fighting when he captured the Celtic title in a second weight category. Buckland showed no signs of ring rust, though – firing precise straight shots at Larabi’s guard, bloodying his nose to establish pattern that was rarely in danger of changing.
When unable to breakthrough the tight defence, Buckland tap the Frenchman around the sides to change the angle of attack, before returning upstairs. To Larabi’s credit, he took the shots well and carried on. In an attempt to escape the backhands of the St Joseph’s club member, Larabi attempted to close the distance by swarming the Welshman with an array of arm and rabbit punches.
Referee Martin Williams was required to tidy up the action more and more as the rounds progressed when both combatants’ enthusiasm led to clinches. There were still flashes of class from Buckland, who pivoted and spun off the ropes to evade Larabi’s increasingly crude attacks. The official scored the contest 60-54 in favour of Buckland.
Stablemate and fellow hometowner Frankie Borg (9-6, 3KO) suffered his fourth consecutive defeat at the heavy hands of Northern Ireland’s Conrad Cummings (9-0-1, KO).
However, the former Welsh Area middleweight ruler performed admirably and presented Cummings, a five time national amateur champion, with plenty to think about.
Behind a high guard, Borg conceded centre ring at the start and Cummings’ pursuit began. ‘Mr Dynamite’ fired thudding jabs to the torso but he showed his relative inexperience when guilty of occasionally overreaching.
Borg held his own by throwing short hooks with both hands if Cummings committed too much, before falling in to smother the reply and turn the visitor. It was a smart approach aimed to control Cummings’ apparent strength advantage.
At the start of the third round, Borg was edging Cummings back but he was made to pay for his ambition – receiving hard counters in return that prompted him back to the edges of the ring. Even in retreat, Borg could still find the target but it wasn’t enough to stop the pressure from Cummings, who owned a visible edge in power.
It told in the fifth round as a one-two combination caught Borg on the point of his chin and sent him to his knees. Rising with a nod to his corner, Borg bravely continued, as he always will, but when staggered in the following and final session by a jab, referee Martin Williams wisely called it off.
In the first fight televised on Spike, two late changes of opponent challenged the focus of Canton’s light-heavyweight Nathan Thorley (5-0, 2KO), who ran out a 40-36 distance victor over Derby’s ever-durable Elvis Dube (7-50-2, 5KO).
Owning a significant height advantage, Thorley took a good look at Dube from distance in the first round. After establishing his range with straight shots, helped by what’s surely the longest reach in Welsh boxing, Thorley was comfortable in planting his feet more as the rounds went on.
Under instruction from his corner, which includes Commonwealth title challenger Chris Davies as head trainer, Thorley used every inch of the canvas to outbox the ever-present Dube.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist was forced to overcome the first cut of his career in the third round. Referee Reece Carter ruled that it came courtesy of an accidental head clash on his left eye. He stayed calm and regained control of the fight with one-two and uppercut combinations, before turning the approaching Dube.
Initially, Thorley had been due to face the Rhondda’s Anthony Trow, who beat Craig Kennedy as an amateur. However, when Trow’s brain scan wasn’t signed off by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) in time, the fight was scrapped.
Dube, who has only been stopped four times in his 59 fight career, accepted the assignment on less than 24 hours’ notice – again proving his role as one of Britain’s most reliable journeymen.
‘Thunder’, as Thorley’s known on the fight scene, sold a significant amount og tickets and received a boisterous reception in his first appearance in Cardiff since winning the 2014 Welsh Elite Championships as an amateur.
Scotland’s talented Josh Taylor (5-0, 5KO) showed again why so many think the super-lightweight is a legitimate world level prospect, dismissing Miguel Gonzalez (13-12, 11KO) in the first round.
Taylor towered over the Honduras native and ‘The Tartan Tornado’ made it matter, firing a rapid southpaw lead from range to sag Gonzalez to the floor. Referee Reece Carter reached the count of 10 before Gonzalez was off his knees.
Aberdare’s Morgan ‘Sexual Chocolate’ Jones (7-0, 3KO) extended his winning streak to seven straight with a flashy win over Richard Harrison (1-5).
Harrison, from Surrey, tried to rush Jones from the opening round but the unblemished super-middleweight had settled down by the end of it. Once the waves of attack slowed, Tony Borg trained Jones was able to land with hooks from both hands and take advantage of Harrison’s lowering guard.
Though taking flush shots, Harrison often reacted by antagonising Jones and encouraging the South African born counter-puncher to hit him again. Jones obliged and dislodged Harrison’s gum-shield in the third, before trapping him in the corner. It was enough for referee Reece Carter who waved it off moments later.