Unleash The Dragon undercard: Buckland and Turley spearhead, while prospects continue development

Unleash The Dragon undercard: Buckland and Turley spearhead, while prospects continue development

There are fewer fighters who present more value for money than Cardiff’s Gary ‘Dynamo’ Buckland (30-6, 10KO) and he proved it again with a third round stoppage of George Gachechiladze (17-19-1, 10KO). The pair met shoulder-to-shoulder straight away and it was clearly a position Buckland was more comfortable in. The 29-year-old pounded his way through Gachechiladze’s defence with short hooks and uppercuts, causing the visitor to wince as early as the opening minute. Buckland would occasionally begin with a jab and it blinded the visitor enough for Buckland to step in with his second phase. In the second round, Buckland began to unlock Gachechiladze’s defence, crushing his compact frame with left hooks before stepping away to make room for repeated uppercuts. Gachechiladze was visibly tiring and Buckland’s greater variation saw him stay a step ahead. The success wasn’t all one way, though. Always keen to stay in the pocket, Buckland was forced to take single shots when he was guilty of leaning over his front foot. The former Welsh, Celtic and British British champion remained comfortable and quickly returned to his role as the bully of the bout. The ending came as Buckland enjoyed a sustained onslaught on the front foot, prompting referee Martin Williams to wave the contest off in the third round to the delight of the St Joseph’s Boxing Club coaches in the corner. Although Gachechiladze was throwing back, he was coming off second best and looked unlikely to turn it around. There were no risks taken by Cefn Fforest’s Robbie Turley (15-5, 3KO) as he completed formalities with relative ease to beat Latvia’s Dmitrijs Gutmans (2-6). Martin Williams, the scoring referee, judged the four round bout 40-36 in favour of the reigning Welsh and Celtic super-bantamweight champion. Turley may now turn his attention to the British title currently held by Liverpool’s James ‘Jazza’ Dickens, who was in the crowd, following his eliminator win over Jamie Speight in December. Turley prodded and poked Gutmans but the travelling journeyman was never tempted to bite back, allowing the 27-year-old to pot-shot away and rack up the rounds. Like a proverbial Jack In The Box, Turley was typically elusive dipping and rising with crisp counters, treating the contest as a tick-box exercise and opportunity to keep the ring rust away. Aberdare’s super-middleweight Morgan ‘Sexual Chocolate’ Jones (3-0, 1KO) remained unbeaten with a shutout points victory over Mark Till (2-15-1, 1KO). The 21-year-old, who also trains at St Joseph’s Boxing Club, entered the ring disguised in a balaclava but he wasn’t shy to impose himself on Southampton’s Till. Jones’ eagerness to close the gap saw him slightly staggered by a left hook in the early exchanges but he soon re-gathered composure and pressed the action for the rest of the fight. The unbeaten prospect first made his mark with a straight right and didn’t allow Till to regain centre ring, pushing him back to the ropes with short hooks as he hid behind a shoulder roll. By the end of the opener, Till was cut under his right eye, an injury that referee Martin Williams told ringside officials was caused by a punch. Despite Jones’ dominance, it didn’t deter Till’s ambition in the following round. The visitor would squeeze up his defence and wait for Jones to approach, launching wide hooks when the pair were in punching distance. However, Till’s tactics were too crude and Jones was wise to it, ducking below the swings and rising with counters. Typically, Till began the third with enthusiasm and landed a series of low blows on the blind side of the referee, although that was soon discouraged by Jones’ right uppercuts. Jones, a two-time Welsh Elite Championships winner as an amateur, was keen to keep the distance allowing him to step in to his shots with more venom. It was working and the referee enquired about Till’s willingness to continue at the end of the round. In the final round, Till was understandably tiring and less willing to engage, allowing Jones to progress at his own pace, routinely picking two and three punch combinations to collect all four stanzas on of the referee’s card. Pontypridd’s Kyle Jones (3-0) produced his most positive performance and took his third professional win with a 40-37 points victory over Hull’s winless Paul O’Brien (0-10). The measured welterweight was slightly shorter than O’Brien but used it to his advantage, approaching low as he manoeuvred O’Brien to the edges of the ring. When Jones squared his opponent on the ropes, he would keep him there with short hooks, both up and downstairs and more importantly, with both hands. Under instruction from Tony Borg, Jones introduced the jab in the second round and it allowed O’Brien to share centre ring. However, the change of position did little to aid the guest, who was regularly returned to the back foot with straight shots. O’Brien, who might’ve been buoyed by the knowledge that he’d all of Jones’ arsenal, pressed forward in the third and the exchanges were evening, although it was never enough to trouble his opponent. Jones reset himself to close the contest, often feinting to trigger O’Brien’s lead before swarming in with peppering attacks. Jones was spurred on by the growing voices of support in the crowd and finished strongly to suggest he’s ready to step up to the six round distances. Cardiff’s Nathan ‘Thunder’ Thorley (2-0, 1KO) collected his second professional win and he’s yet to lose a round in the process, this time seeing off Rolandas Cesna (3-26-2) with a 40-36 tally. Thorley, a light-heavyweight who may own the longest reach in Welsh boxing, immediately stepped on to the front foot, forcing the Lithuanian back behind his never ending arms and establishing a pattern that was never in danger of disruption. There wasn’t a lot for Thorley to avoid as Cesna was happy to retreat, circling the ring with the only interruption to the journeyman’s rhythm coming when he cornered himself, where he was forced to suck up hooks to the body. However, Cesna would occasionally remind the prospect to remain vigilant and keep his chin tucked in as he’d partially connect with reckless lunges. Those clips were few and far between, though. Thorley, a Commonwealth Games 2014 medallist, dictated the action more as it progressed and made his first significant mark with a backhand as round three closed. Cesna, who already had a bruised left eye as he entered the ring, was made to earn his money from there until the final round, often finding himself on the receiving end of straight punches. Breathing hard due of the intense pressure, the heavily tattooed Cesna was further imprinted by a series of straight shots as Thorley, also known as ‘Mr T’, who heard the final bell for the first time. Pontypridd’s light-heavyweight Jermaine Asare (2-0) made his long awaited return to record an overdue second win, edging out Stoke’s Chris Nixon (4-4) by just one point on referee Reece Carter’s 39-38 scorecard. Asare began the bout uncharacteristically cold and surrendered the opener but the single point margin was generous to Nixon. The visitor took full advantage of Asare’s slow approach, landing arm punches before smothering Asare and moving away to reset. There’s an argument that Asare’s biggest hurdle to overcome wasn’t Nixon, but the 23 months of inactivity he endured prior to just his second outing in nearly five years. The Commonwealth Games 2010 medalist would be wise to have learned that gym-time isn’t a substitute for ring-time, even if he’s been sparring former WBO world champion Nathan Cleverly. The corner, which included trainer Darren Wilson and manager Steve ‘Sammy’ Sims, weren’t overly concerned after a static first round and their patience was justified in the following session as Asare thawed out. A warmed up Asare found his form, albeit with single shots, as he landed flush unorthodox hooks and uppercuts that came out of Nixon’s eye-line. In full flow, Asare enjoyed the third round and caused Nixon, who was cornered by former British champion Scott Lawton, to wince on more than one occasion, most notably with left hooks to the body and overhand rights. Nixon scored with arm-punches in clinches but it wasn’t enough to deter Asare, whose strength was visibly growing with each passing second. Admirably, Nixon was rarely out of punching distance, he brought his own ambition but it often left openings that Asare was more than able to fill in. The Welshman gained leverage with his swaying upper-body movement and made his biggest impact in the final round. The best fight of the undercard came courtesy of Bridgend’s Richie Canning (2-0) and Cardiff’s Ameen Alkailany (0-3), with the former escaping with a 39-37 points win in the welterweight division. Canning, trained by Paul Paveldish in Mountain Ash, was warned for landing two low blows inside the first 30 seconds but it was more error than intent, as he paid particular attention to Alkailany’s mid-section. However, half way through the opener, it was Alkailany’s turn to up the ante as he rushed Canning’s composure to score with flush left uppercuts at the bell. At range, Canning was too quick for Alkailany’s crude swings but anything shorter than mid-range saw the pair produce thudding exchanges. More than willing to trade short hooks together, both Alkailany and Canning were marking the other’s territory and it didn’t discourage either. Naturally, the pace slowed in the third and both boxers sat down on their punches, in an attempt to increase the power and stop the other in their tracks. In a sign of a well-matched contest, the action swung both ways and both gave answer’s to the other’s shortcomings. Alkailany, managed by former world title challenger Gary Lockett, was slower but appeared to possess more energy in the final session, bouncing on his toes as he caught Canning’s slipping guard. By now, the usually fleet footed Canning was more flat-footed as he bravely attempted to re-impose himself and he gradually did so, clipping Alkailany with eye-catching backhands between the wide hooks. Mountain Ash’s Dorian Darch (9-4, 1KO) returned from seven months of inactivity and was forced to endure a horrendous cut on his way to defeating Imantas Davidaitis. Referee Reece Carter judged it 30-27 to Darch, who was returning from a knockout loss to former world heavyweight title challenger Eddie Chambers, after officials called it off at the end of the third round. Despite weighing more then two stone lighter, than Darch Davidaitis wasn’t discouraged, probably because he owned a four-inch height advantage. Darch’s natural size advantage saw his punches score with more impact but he received backhands in return that grabbed his attention. Encouraged by his corner to calm down and start approaching behind his jab, Darch was able to find the gaps in the visitor’s lax defence with increasing frequency. The Welshman won’t encounter many opponents more awkward than Davidaitis and it almost spilled over in the second round as both boxers ignored the referee’s instruction to break and continued punching in one of their many clinches. Darch paid the price for the repeated clinches in round three as an accidental head clash saw him suffer a horrific cut on the corner of his left eye. It prompted an immediate inspection from the ringside doctor and Darch pleaded to be allowed to continue. He was permitted until the end of the round when it was eventually, and wisely, called off despite Darch’s willingness to continue.

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