Join Will Cooling at 5pm ET for live coverage of the Michael Katsidis vs Kevin Mitchell clash for the WBO Interim Lightweight Title and the Sky Sports televised undercard which includes what could be the last ever fight in the long career of British Heavyweight Champion Danny Williams.
Evening folks, for the first in a world championship double header with Kevin Mitchell challenging Michael Katsidis for the WBO Interim Lightweight Title at Upton Park, the stadium of his favourite soccer club West Ham. The well-travelled champion will be the favourite, but unbeaten KO specialist Mitchell will surely give it his all before his hometown fans.
We start tonight’s fights with a British Heavyweight Title fight, as controvesial unbeaten heavyweight Derek Chisroa takes on the veteran champion Danny Williams in what is being billed (win, lose or draw) as the latter’s retirement fight.
British Heavyweight Title Fight
Danny Williams (19st 7Ibs) vs Derek Chisora (17st 6Ibs)
Williams is ten years older than Chisora, although the champion has a near two inch height advantage and a five inch reach advantage. Williams is also the heavier man by nearly two stones (23 Ibs to be exact). Williams is trying to bounce back and end his career with victory after a shock first-round defeat in last year’s Prizefighter while Chisora is trying to continue his winning streak and claim the British Heavyweight Title.
Williams doesn’t look to be in the best possible shape, noticeably overweight and being quick to hold onto Chisora but slow to engage. Chisora puts together some good combinations, catching Williams with a stinging left hand and landed several shots after trapping the champion in the corner. 10-9 to Chisora.
Chisora takes the fight to Williams, swarming on the champion with a flurry of punches after he had caught him with a big right uppercut. Chisora secured the knockdown with a right hand, although a visibly shaken Williams was able to beat the count. Chisora continued the assault, pinning Williams against the ropes and landing several unanswered punches until the referee stops it at 1.41. Chisora showed killer instinct and power, but he’ll surely have to improve his technique if he’s going to progress beyond the British scene. He’ll also need to prove himself against a higher quality of opposition, as sadly today’s Danny Williams really has nothing left in the tank.
After the fight, Chisora challenges Commonwealth Champion Sam Sexton and says should he win that belt, he would then want to win the European Title.
In a pre-lim fight from earlier on tonight, former Olympian Billy Joe Saunders making a successful comeback from injury with a shut out decision victory against overmatched middleweight journeyman Andy Butlin. Saunders used his speed to land a large number of shots (throwing 602 and landing 27%) relying on the volume of shots to keep his opponent at bay. However, the limitations of the young Saunders were once again evident with his twenty-year old body lacking power as shown by the failure of him to land a KO punch and his twenty-year old mind lacking maturity as shown by him throwing a blatant headbutt whilst in the clinch. He also seemed to tire as the fight went on, with Saunders seeming flat in some of the later rounds. Worryingly at the end of the fifth round, he complained of pain in his left hand.
WBA Super-Middleweight International Title
James DeGale (12st) vs Sam Horton (11st 12Ibs 8oz)
This is a twelve-round fight for the vacant WBA International Title, nope I have absolutely no idea what that is either. This is the 12-round debut of Olympic Gold Medalist James DeGale, a highly promising former amatuer star whose making a strong transition to the professional game.
Very aggressive start from DeGale, who instead of boxing cute with his amatuer skills is just marching into punching range and unloading hard shots onto Horton. While DeGale does leave himself open to a couple of hard shots, Horton doesn’t have the punching power or the handspeed to captialise. 10-9 to DeGale.
Tighter work from DeGale in the second round, more patient than in the first and working to set up his shots. His patience is rewarded with him inflicting some serious damage throughout the round, rocking Horton early on with a hard right hook and securing a knockdown with a left hand towards the end. Much better from a confident, impressive DeGale 10-8.
Better round from Horton, who puts in a more aggressive performance than in the first two rounds and so limits the time and space that DeGale had been using to set up his punches earlier. That said, DeGale still had the better of the round putting together a nice combination early in the round and landing some hard uppercuts towards to the end. DeGale does seeem to be looking for the big KO punch which is stopping him putting together the smooth, complete performance that he’s capable of. 10-9 to DeGale
In a statistic that perfectly illustrates the gulf in class between the two, both have landed around 130 punches in the first three rounds whereas Horton has landed only 15%, DeGale has landed 40%. More of the same from DeGale, who largely due to impatience seems to be struggling to find his rhythm but is capable of landing hard shots and skillful combinations in burts of sheer class. Horton is slowing down and struggling to keep up with the Olympian, and gets deducted a point for holding. 10-8 to DeGale.
DeGale steps it up in the fifth round, putting together a powerful combination that had Horton clinging on. After just failing to finish him then, he lands a beautiful right uppercut square on the chin of Horton that after a left hook/right hand combination ends the fight at 2.06. A hint of controversy with the finish as the referee failed to stop the fight immediately forcing the corner to throw in the towel.
Slightly disappointing performance from DeGale who seemed to not take his opponent seriously and was overeager to get the KO, often forcing things instead of taking the time to find his rhythm. Still he was absolutely a cut above his opponent, and the knockout was a convincing one.
Our main event is up next.
WBO Interim Lightweight Title
Michael Katsidis (134.4Ibs) vs Kevin Mitchell (134.5Ibs)
You have to hand it to Frank Warren, many thought he was crazy to have this fight as the headliner of a stadium show but Upton Park is pretty full at around 20,000 and looks like a major league venue on television. This is a major step-up in level of competition for Mitchell, who is unbeaten after thirty-one fights and has impressed recently against the likes of Bendis Prescott and Ignacio Mendoza. A natural puncher, Mitchell has been working with a new training to become more disciplined. Hopefully he’ll be able to use this greater tactical awareness to avoid being sucked into an all-0ut brawl with the heavy hitting Katsidis while still being able to land the telling blow. I think he can do it, but he must avoid being blown away by what will surely be an onslaught early on as the champion tries to test his resolve.
Katsidis is the older man by four years, with a 1.5 inch reach advantage although Mitchell is taller by one inch. Elaborate entrances for both fighters, with Katsidis doing his usual Gladitor shtick while Mitchell had a live band, cheerleaders and balloons in a very West Ham themed entrance. The crowd is treated to a rendition of the National Anthem and is PUMPED for this fight. Both Katsidis and Mitchell are jumping up and down, eager for the fight to start. Mitchell’s shorts are the same colour as West Ham, which is approaching Mick Foley levels of cheap heat.
Positive start from Mitchell who seeks to set the pace and place of the fight by working his jab. Katsidis is content to sit back, moving forward in a couple of bursts landing some impressive looking heavy combinations although Mitchell was able to land a nice right hand in response. Mitchell probably did enough to nick the round, but Katsidis may have taken the round with a late burst. 10-9 to Mitchell.
Katsidis’ starts the round, content to let Mitchell push the action while picking his moments to burst through the challenger’s defences. Mitchell lands some good shots, working his jab particularly well and is showing a willingess to take to Katisids. However the superior power of Katsidis was show in the final minute when the Australian decides to put together a couple of power combinatios. Another round for Mitchell, but Katsidis seems to be able to punish Mitchell whenever he decides to commit. 10-9 to Mitchell.
After feeling out Mitchell for two rounds, Katsidis decides that enough’s enough and takes charge of the fight, marching forward with a heavy combination and rocks Mitchell with a left hook. The damage seems to disorient the challenger, as instead of holding on and taking the time to recover he instead tries to punch his way back into the fight. It almost works, with Mitchell seemingly regaining strength in his legs and getting power back in his punches but Katsidis again catches him with several hard shots and breaks the Londoner’s resistance with a hard left hook and the referee stops it at 1.57.
An exciting fight, but never had the time to reach the levels that I thought it might going in. Impressive performance from Katsidis who never seemed in trouble throughout the three rounds and was able to pick his moments to impose himself on Mitchell. Mitchell performed bravely but seemed unable to handle Katsidis’ power and in the heat of the moment his newfound discipline deserted him. His defence will be a particular area of concern, with Katsidis seemingly able to penetrate it at will. There’s also an argument that the former super-bantamweight seemed undersized against The Gladiator.
And that ends a very impressive evening of fights from Sky Sports and Frank Warren Promotions. The show delivered with promising British boxers such as Frankie Gavin and Joe Saunders impressing on the undercard, while James DeGale and Derek Chisora entertained while making short work of their opponents in the other live fights. Above all, while the result was disappointing the main event seemed like a huge fight with major league presentation and a large, passionate crowd. It must cross the mind of Frank Warren’s former charge Amir Khan, as his fight with Paulie Malignaggi struggles to sell out the 5,000 Wamu Theatre, whether he made the right decision in leaving the tutelage of Frank Warren in an early attempt to break into the American market.
In any case, you can follow Amir Khan’s first match in America here at Insidefights at 9.45pm ET in the second part of Inside Fights’ coverage of this exciting world championship double header for British boxing.