Chris Jenkins battles to a draw with Tyrone Nurse

Chris Jenkins battles to a draw with Tyrone Nurse

By Dewi Powell: Wales remains without a British light-welterweight champion in it’s history books. Garnant’s Chris Jenkins (16-0-1, 8KO) was the latest to try but he instead battled to a Majority Decision draw with Hudderfield’s Tyrone Nurse (31-2-1, 6KO) in a competitive clash for the vacant title.

Two of the three judges, Steve Gray and Terry O’Connor, scored the contest even with 115-115 and 114-114 scorecards respectively, while Howard Foster favoured Nurse by a much wider 117-112 margin at the Manchester Arena on the undercard of Matchroom Sport’s stacked ‘High Stakes’ show.

Following a series of never ending set-backs that stalled Jenkins’ career for nine months, the 26-year-old former WBC International champion finally fought for the first significant title of his three year career and a win would’ve eclipsed his storming capture of the Prizefighter trophy in 2013.

The pre-fight thoughts of many observers judged that Jenkins, decorated in black and pink shorts, was the puncher in the fight and he wore white Reyes gloves, known in the trade as ‘punchers gloves’ in respect to their placement of padding away from the knuckles.

After fencing for the first 30 seconds, the pair wasted no time in getting to it. Jenkins, as expected, was the aggressor and he walked Nurse down behind swaying head movement. When Nurse’s back hit the ropes, Jenkins threw his trademark left hook to the body and a right hand over the top to get around and over the Englishman’s shoulder roll shell defence.

Nurse, owner of extraordinarily long arms for the weight category, threw his shots from his waist and often out of Jenkins’ eye-line. It was an issue the Cwmgors Boxing Club member attempted to overcome by shortening the range, taking away Nurse’s leverage.

Adapting to the pressure after six intense minutes, Nurse gradually tightened his hooks and attempted to lean back before countering at the end of the second stanza. The tactic, which briefly worked, prompted a colorful response from Jenkins, who banged his own head to almost mock his opponent.

Jenkins, under the instruction of Head Coach Ronnie Morris, set a non-stop pace that continued in to the fourth round. The unbeaten contender picked his moments to apply pressure and would often bury his head in Nurse’s chest while throwing short hooks, relegating Nurse’s opportunities to counter. In the closing minute of the fourth round, Jenkins sustained a cut across his left eyebrow and there was no indication from referee Phil Edwards if it was caused by a punch or accidental foul.

Meanwhile, Nurse collected his own war wounds with a graze under his right eye. The pace had slowed by the halfway mark, mainly because of Nurse’s nullifying tactics, holding and tying up Jenkins’ limbs and head when he was at short-range. It appeared to frustrate Jenkins, who pushed his head in to Nurse’s on the sounding of the bell to end the sixth session.

Jenkins’ previously absent jab reappeared in the eighth as he picked away at Nurse’s head, which was hung out to dry in an unsuccessful attempt to duck and dodge. That jab made room for Jenkins to step in with his favourite shot, a left hook to the body and approaching the final phase, his body language seemed the more content.

There was no clear leader as the pair headed in to the final three rounds and there wasn’t a lot of clear action in what followed. Worryingly, Nurse’s head came very close to Jenkins’ bloody eye despite the three-inch height difference they shared. In the closing rounds, Jenkins’ feverish pace had dipped and the Swansea native could be spotted taking in deep breaths when he had space to.

Although Nurse appeared fresher on his legs, he struggled to capitalize with most of his success coming courtesy of arm and rabbit punches. Both had to raise their game in the deciding sessions. Despite Nurse amassing a wealth of ring time in his 33 fights, many of his wins had come at a lower level with the most notable beaten name being former Southern Area champion Tyler Goodjohn.

The lack of championship experience was evident on both sides as neither was able to pull away from their competitor, resulting in a frustrating but fair draw. No Welsh light-welterweight had ever won the Lord Lonsdale belt, a startling fact that includes the careers of former WBA world champion Gavin ‘The Rock’ Rees.

The last time a Welshman challenged for the strap, Maesteg’s former European lightweight champion Jason ‘The Power’ Cook unsuccessfully challenged Lenny Daws in 2010, taking a Split Decision draw at London’s York Hall.

Nurse, a former Central Area and English champion, had contested for the vacant Commonwealth title in October but he came unstuck against Derby’s Dave ‘Rocky’ Ryan, visiting the canvas twice early on and battling back to the wrong end of a Majority Decision loss.

The only other loss on the 25-year-old’s record came in the Prizefighter format three years ago, losing in the final to fellow Yorkshireman Adil Anwar. When Jenkins’ cut heals, it’s likely that they’ll contest the vacant British title again.

Image by Matchroom.

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