Morgan Jones climbs off the canvas to edge Jake Anthony and capture Welsh title

Morgan Jones climbs off the canvas to edge Jake Anthony and capture Welsh title

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

By Dewi Powell: Aberdare’s Morgan Jones (13-2, 5KO) climbed off the canvas to capture the vacant Welsh super-middleweight title with a hard-fought 97-95 decision win over Ammanford’s Jake Anthony (6-1).

The pair went back-and-forth over 10 rounds and there was little to separate them in the second Welsh title fight of Sanigar Events’ packed out show in Swansea, following Kristian Touze and Angelo Dragone’s super-featherweight scorcher.

It was a career-saving win for Jones. The 28-year-old was recovering from repeat defeats in his last two outings, having been stopped and dropped over the course of 14 rounds. Overcoming the test presented by unbeaten Anthony boosted Jones’ confidence and resurrected his hopes of making a major mark in boxing.

“I needed them [losses] in order to make it through the fight with Jake,” he candidly confessed. “It was definitely the most important fight of my career.

“Winning the fight has kept my hopes of really progressing and making a name for myself in the sport, which is what I want to do still.

“Losing the fight against Jake would’ve put me in the journeyman category. I would’ve willingly taken that role if I’d lost the fight. I’d have still boxed but it’s not boxing with the same heart.”

After sizing each other up in a tentative opener, Jones and Anthony took it in turns to test the waters. Neither overcommitted as Jones jabbed and Anthony looked for the body by sending hooks around the sides. Anthony made a major breakthrough at the end of the second round. After a few minutes of prodding and poking, he detonated a huge right hand when Jones leaned back on to the ropes. Jones was stunned and fell to his knees. He took his time and looked to the corner, before rising to survive a follow up attack.

“I showed my resilience,” Jones declared. “It was a really good shot. My mind was firmly on victory and that’s what pulled me through that moment. It was never a doubt in my mind that I’d lose the fight.

“Going into the fight, I don’t know if scared was the right word but lets just say I was very nervous of Jake’s power because he’s very strong. Even with that in my head, I couldn’t see me losing the fight. It’s just one of them intangible things in boxing.”

The hunt was back on in the third round. Anthony menacingly launched overhands and Jones tried to fend him off with snappy straight shots. The defence was breached again in the third round, though Jones endured them with more stability. Early in the fourth round, Jones caught the eye with uppercuts and he began to measure his punches with more precision. It left him open to replies but the pair were now exchanging on more even terms, much to the delight of Jones’ cornerman Paul Paveltish.

The fifth round saw more success for Jones until a cut opened on the edge of his left eye. Referee Martin Williams ruled that it was caused by an accidental clash of heads. Anthony, spurred on by coach Richie Garner, could literally smell blood and was energised for the remainder of the session. The pace slightly slowed in the following round and Chris Sanigar, working on cuts in Jones’ corner, was managing to stem the bloody cut. Both appeared more speculative and seemed to welcome the opportunity to catch a breath.

Soon after in the seventh round, Anthony’s power appeared to be fading and Jones came forward more frequently, taking advantage of the shift in momentum with sneaky counters up close. From then onwards, it was Jones’ opportunity to use his experience. Seven years older and with double the amount of professional fights, he appeared more comfortable and Anthony was in new territory.

To Anthony’s credit, he bit down on his gum shield and made a real effort in the eighth round, working away with a mix of arm-punches, used to distract attention away from his looping overhands. Jones enjoyed the ninth round, the only adversity coming when Anthony targeted the body, but it was controlled. Round 10 followed the same pattern and there was little to separate them at the final bell. The difference, however slight, was Jones’ consistency and it managed to nullify Anthony’s attempts to turn it back in his favour before the final bell.

Both sides could make a case for their boxer deserving the win – it was that close. The main controversy in this Welsh title fight wasn’t who won; it was the margin of the official scoring that determined the new champion. It credited Anthony with just two of the 10 rounds. Richie Garner, who cornered Angelo Dragone less than an hour earlier, let his feelings known in the post-fight interview with S4C. The trainer and manager believed both of his boxers had been hard done-by. Despite the frustration, Anthony had performed well in his first major step up.

“Full respect to Morgan Jones. He suffered a heavy knockdown, he got up, he recovered and he boxed well behind the jab” said Garner to set up his more forthright complaint. “But we knew Martin Williams is the type of referee who scores for aggression and pressing the fight. I thought we done enough to win, I’m not going home happy with the decision. I’ve got a 21-year-old boy here who, by the referee’s decision, is going home shafted.”

Naturally, Jones disagreed and had his own interpretation of events. The victor did offer his gracious sympathies to Anthony, though. Jones recognised the similarities between their respective situations, having been in Anthony’s shoes not so long ago. They have sparred together in the past and within Jones’ empathy is a belief that the win will look better in the future when Anthony goes on to other achievements.

He said: “I knew I won the fight, I knew deep in my heart I won. Really speaking, to me, that’s all that matters. Whatever decision is given, it doesn’t matter to me. I knew I won that fight.

“I had already taken two losses. I knew how it felt to lose your unbeaten record. I knew that, y’know? At that last bell, my heart was really with Jake. I know what it feels like. In my head, I felt bad for him and I hope he comes back stronger.

“If Jake keeps sticking at it and stays in the game, he’s going to do a lot of good things. The hardest thing in pro boxing is staying active. If he keeps fighting and people are willing to fight him, he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”

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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