Kristian Touze controversially outpoints Angelo Dragone for Welsh title

Kristian Touze controversially outpoints Angelo Dragone for Welsh title

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

By Dewi Powell: Carmarthen’s Angelo Dragone (5-1) left the ring feeling wronged after losing a disputed decision to Swansea’s Kristian Touze (9-0-2), who became Welsh super-featherweight champion at the end of 10 enthralling rounds.

The West Walian derby grew into a big attraction amongst locals in the area, enticing terrestrial channel S4C to broadcast the Sanigar Events show live from the LC2 venue in Swansea. 30 minutes of ferocious fighting lived up to the occasion and the only disappointment came when Master of Ceremonies Ricky Wright read the controversial verdict. Referee Reece Carter somehow submitted a 97-94 scorecard to award the vacant crown to Touze.

Kristian Touze Angelo Dragone“I give my all. I wear my heart on my sleeve,” said Dragone, who passes those principles on as coach to a community of gym-goers. “It felt like I done enough and obviously my cornermen were confident. I was really confident of winning and when I heard the scorecard go against me, it was a very bitter pill to swallow.

“I’m a down to earth guy. I’ve got a kids academy and stuff like that. I build the respect and discipline for the sport into them. There’s no point acting like a sore loser. Dust yourself down and go again. It’s not about throwing my toys out of the pram like some people would.”

The official announcement was greeted by some cheers and a louder chorus of disapproving jeers. Many fans objected a verdict that credited just three rounds to a dominant Dragone. Boxing is never shy of controversy and this was certainly one of the most memorable incidents in Welsh boxing for a number of years, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Dragone was in hot pursuit from the opening bell and he managed to close the distance quickly, firing away short hooks to the body. Southpaw Touze, leading with his right hand and holding his left further back, tried to pot shot in response. When Dragone got past the jabs, Touze then attempted to tie him up and skip away for longer-range exchanges. The action didn’t slow in the second round and a straight right hand bloodied Touze’s nose. It wasn’t the last time claret would be shed. Before the round was out, an accidental head clash left him bleeding from a cut above his eyebrow. Dragone looked too strong and even when his blatant aggression resulted in him taking the occasional single shot, Touze couldn’t slow Dragone’s relentless attacks.

Touze had his first stint of success in the fourth round, managing to score with straight punches and then smother Dragone at close quarters. However, it was short lived and Dragone re-imposed himself soon after. The only interruptions came when Touze cleverly spoilt the action. Now it was Dragone’s turn to bleed and a wound opened up below his left eye in the middle rounds, soon followed by a symmetrical cut under his right eye. Touze is used to handing out cuts on a day-to-day basis but these were accidental, caused when the barber unintentionally clashed heads.

Dragone said: “[It was the] first time I’d been cut. They were both identical, from head clashes. It didn’t phase me at all, to be honest.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I went back to the corner and Richie [Garner – trainer and manager] put a bit of adrenaline in my eye and it stung. I was like, ‘Fuck! What was that?’ I thought he was going to put Vaseline on it.

“If they were over my eyes, the ref could’ve called it but because they were under my eyes, it didn’t affect them at all. They were quite deep.”

The sight of dripping blood inspired Touze into action, helping him to bank the seventh round with well-timed counters. The sheer effort and admirable concentration helped Touze to stop the rot and give his corner, headed by David John, hope of turning the tide. Then the eighth session was an undoubted contender for round of the year. Both took turns to unload on each other, nearing the point of exhaustion. The only difference between them was Dragone’s strength, which appeared to give him front foot leverage.

A boisterous atmosphere accompanied the boxers in the ninth and 10th rounds. The spontaneity spurred Dragone and Touze to empty their respective tanks in the closing stages. Sound bounced around the hall and the duo earned enormous credit from a very vocal crowd. Emotions were high during the derby but the crowd’s conduct remained relatively peaceful.

Keen to acknowledge the unforgettable support, Dragone said: “I felt the crowd the whole fight, it was a big impact. There was a huge crowd there and when they said the decision in the room… the room emptied. I’ve never heard boos like that before at a small hall show. Mental, wasn’t it?

“It was a toe to toe fight all the way through. It was 10 rounds of non-stop action. The crowd was awesome from round one to round 10. I remember getting off my stool for the 10th round and the racket was unbelievable.”

Naturally, Dragone disagreed with the decision. He took it gracefully, welcoming his two children to the ring. They were raised to Dragone’s shoulders to free his arms and so he could salute an army of fans. The former milkman had exceeded the expectations set when he turned professional after a modest amateur career.

Touze was exhausted and ecstatic, all at the same time. The former serviceman was draped in a Welsh title as champion of his country. Regardless of the opinions of the referee’s tally, Touze had given everything and won a ton of respect for his bravery. He’s unlikely to grant a rematch, though this was his night for celebration.

“From the start, I tried to pick him off, keep moving. I knew he was going to be aggressive and come forward all the time,” analysed Touze as he sat on the edge of the ring apron and spoke to the S4C commentary team. “It was an amazing fight. He’s still a champ himself.

“I’ve seen a couple of his fights, he’s seen a couple of mine. I knew he wasn’t going to change his style, I knew he was working with boys to cut me off, pressure me. He wanted to stop me in the later rounds, like he said, but I knew I had the fitness in the bag. Thank god for the outcome.”

The fight raised one important, broader issue: whether or not a referee should also be the sole scoring judge of a 10 rounder. Some promoters will argue against the costs of having three judges when their financial margins are already so narrow. Others argue that given the ‘snakes and ladders’ nature of the business of boxing, the cost of a bad decision to a boxer’s career far outweighs the cost of three judges. Dragone, who wanted to go on and defend the Welsh title against Lance Cooksey before Christmas, is an example of that. The latter, and larger, group of people wish to share the burden of scoring to relieve pressure on the referee and ensure that the best boxer wins. It’s not to say bad decisions cease to exist when three judges are used, though logic suggests the likelihood is lessened.

The underlying issue is the status of Welsh titles, officially classed as ‘Area’ titles by the British Boxing Board of Control [BBBoC]. It’s the same for Scottish and Northern Irish titles, which are akin to the Southern Area or Central Areas of England. BBBoC rules require just one referee to score area title fights, regardless of the strain put on officials who also have to keep the action under control. In contrast, English titles are classed as ‘National’ titles and have benefitted from three judges since Tyson Fury’s controversial decision win against John McDermott in 2009. The contradiction is difficult to justify, though shows no sign of changing.

It wasn’t the last time this debate would rumble on… in fact, it took about an hour to return!

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Image by Sacha Wiener.

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