Craig Kennedy secures statement knockout of Wadi Camacho

Craig Kennedy secures statement knockout of Wadi Camacho

By Dewi Powell: Cardiff’s Craig ‘The Kid’ Kennedy (11-0, 6KO) came of age with a savage seventh round knockout of London’s Wadi Camacho (12-5, 8KO).

The cruiserweight contest was the main attraction of Sanigar Events’ ‘Unfinished Business’ show at the Newport Centre and they delivered a back-and-forth barnstormer.

Five months after their first meeting, when Camacho was controversially disqualified in the second round for an alleged bite, Kennedy provided a conclusive answer to any lingering questions.

“He come prepared. Firstly, I want to thank Wadi and his team for coming down to a hostile environment,” said Kennedy. “In boxing, any publicity is good publicity. There were certain people around me and close to me who didn’t want the rematch. He swore to me that he didn’t do it [the bite], he’s adamant and I’m adamant he did. We shook hands and agreed to disagree.

“It was just what I needed to be honest. My trainer has already given me six out of 10 because how I fought tonight is not how I spar. Maybe I got sucked into the crowd a little bit, I was a bit wild at times but I said myself, ‘We’re going to mark him up early, get behind the jab, use my feet which are my strongest asset, and put it on him in the later rounds.’ This is what was supposed to happen in the first fight.”

In the referee’s final instructions, Kennedy was told, “it’s not a street fight” by referee Reece Carter when he refused to touch gloves but a slugfest quickly commenced.

Both boxers began at range, giving themselves the room to step in with power punches. In the early exchanges, Kennedy circled to the his left – the side of Camacho’s southpaw back hand – to draw first blood. He remained patient and goaded Camacho to throw first, and miss, only to be countered with straight rights.

The visitor recovered quickly and pushed Kennedy back to the edges of the ring apron. Camacho, nicknamed Macho Man, threw three punch combinations before falling in and smothering Kennedy to nullify a reply. After the opening two rounds went the Welshman’s way, Camacho came out for the third round looking to get a foothold in the fight. The former Prizefighter winner put all of his weight on the front foot, eager to create some forward momentum.

However, both were vulnerable when the fists were flying and they exchanged heavy artillery at the same time. Camacho, usually a crafty counter-punching southpaw, was blatant and basic in his approach. It’s possible the 29-year-old was attempting to utilise his 4lbs weight advantage but Kennedy was often wise to it.

The first big breakthrough came at the end of the third as Kennedy turned Camacho and launched a fearsome two-fisted attack. There were plenty of reminders for Kennedy, though. The Steve Robinson trained contender was often caught with his chin in the air.

One moment for scorn will be the start of the fourth round when Camacho found the crude backhand he was looking for. Luckily for Kennedy, it had little effect and he soon regained his composure. Later in that round, their toe-to-toe action was interrupted when Camacho received a warning for use of the elbow, before he was hurt and almost staggered through the ropes.

Between exchanges, the action was occasionally messy up close and it was littered with short range rabbit punches. The clinches were perhaps a result of Kennedy’s intention to avoid another controversial biting incident.

At times, Kennedy was on the edge of a formal warning for holding as he shut down Camacho’s inside work by tying up his arms. By round five, Camacho’s nose was bloodied and his right eye cut, Kennedy was by far the happier fighter but there was plenty more to be done. The Welshman picked his moments to spring off the back foot and catch Camacho when he overreached.

In round six, both were visibly tiring and feeling the pace of a frantically paced five rounds. Kennedy, who at one point slipped on advertising toblerones, was smart and began to conserve energy, pot-shotting and ambushing Camacho whenever he recklessly rushed in.

It began to tell after numerous give-and-take exchanges and it was Camacho who was cracking first. Despite immense bravery, Camacho was almost stopped at the close of the sixth and again in the seventh.

Kennedy picked up where he left off. Shedding the cautious shackles of the earlier rounds, he walked himself to a corner to tempt Camacho into range. Kennedy then dropped his exhausted opponent for the first time with a counter left hook. Camacho got back to his feet and he was kept on the backfoot for a considerable amount of time, arguably for the first time in the fight.

“I knew I was comfortable,” said Kennedy. “I won every round. I always did enough, even at times when he was catching me with good shots. Every time I was doing enough.

“I had him rattled a couple of times but you don’t want to rush your work and get caught in the cross fire. I took my time, I told you my game plan before today and we executed it perfectly, so I’m happy.”

A follow up attack sank a bloodied Camacho to the canvas for a second time. Kennedy landed another left hook just as the referee waved it off and it was over. Finished business. At the time of the stoppage, the scoring referee had judged Kennedy had done enough to take all six of the previous rounds.

The Trowbridge resident now moves in to the top 10 domestic rankings. He’s aiming for a British title shot in the next year and is eager to earn it, avoiding any shortcuts that could stunt his development.

Kennedy said: “I know where I am. I know my capabilities and I’m a realist. I’m about three fights away [from a British title]. I’m always improving in the gym. We’ll go back to the drawing board.

“There’s a couple [opponents] in mind, they know who they are. Top 10 opponents, I don’t want to look behind me. Anyone in the top 10 better buckle up and get ready because ‘The Kid’ is coming for them.”

Image by Huw Fairclough.

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