At the weekend, two youngsters showed their class in their step ups, Britain gained another World champion and a hard-hitting Russian retained his titles.
Scotland’s Lee McGregor finally had his opportunity to claim European honours with a first-round stoppage of Karim Guerfi. After multiple postponements, the two finally met in the ring on Friday night, in which was a contest dominated by McGregor. In under three minutes, the 24-year-old was able to drop the Frenchman twice with body shots, before a left hook to the head left Guerfi counted out. McGregor looked a little special on Friday night, and showed he has all the makings to become a serious contender in the Bantamweight division. Domestically, there are a lot of good fights for him, but the one I want to see most is a rematch with Kash Farooq.
Artur Beterbiev had to face inactivity as well as Adam Deines on Saturday night. The hard-hitting Russian showed slowness and ring rust in his successful title defence. I tip my hat to those who bet for the fight to go over six rounds, as I believe many didn’t see it going into the second half of the fight. The unified champion still added another knockout to his perfect record, with a straight left dropping Deines for the first knockdown, then a left hook to secure the stoppage in the tenth session. Beterbiev looked very hittable, and showed vulnerabilities that were unconvincing of his top spot in the 175lbs division. I would fancy Joe Smith Jr to beat him based off of that performance, I’d also give Canelo a much greater chance than I originally did. It will be interesting to see what Beterbiev does next, his professional career has not been kind to him in terms of activity, and I expect it will be another lengthy spell out of the ring before we see him return.
Lawrence Okolie arrived on the World stage with a sixth round KO of Krzysztof Glowacki on Saturday night. The former GB Olympian dominated their contest for the WBO World title with a jab and improved footwork to step around the southpaw stance of Glowacki. The former champion looked like a shell of his former self, unable to do anything of significance against ‘The Sauce’. If I had one criticism of Okolie, it would be that he was shooting his right hand low, when doing this he leaves himself wide open for anything coming back as he tends to leave his left hand hanging. However, the improvements under Shane McGuigan are fantastic, and it could’ve easily been a tactic to lure Glowacki in for Okolie’s right hand. I want to see Okolie face Mairis Briedis next, I think he’s ready to take on the big boys of the division and secure himself as the World’s best cruiserweight. Ilunga Makabu is another name that has been mentioned, which I wouldn’t be disappointed with.
Finally, Vergil Ortiz continued his KO streak with a seventh round stoppage of former World champion Maurice Hooker. As expected, Ortiz had to come through some testing moments, but ultimately he was in the lead before halting Hooker. The fight had a slightly bizarre ending to it though, as Hooker dropped to his knees in pain during an onslaught from the 22-year-old. It appeared that Hooker had suffered a dislocated elbow during their exchange, leaving him in no position to continue. Ortiz called for Crawford after the fight saying “I don’t care if I’m ready or not, I want that fight” – I LOVE that. After Teofimo Lopez conquered Vasiliy Lomachenko last year, it’s great to see many young fighters are following suit. Crawford didn’t show any interest in that fight, but he also ruled out a potential showdown with Errol Spence Jr, so god knows who he’ll fight. I hope Ortiz gets the Crawford fight, it might be too early for him, but at this stage they’re running out of options. Jaron Ennis is of course, the real fight we want to see Vergil Ortiz in, but I feel that could be some time away.
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