David Haye vs Tony Bellew, Sam Eggington vs Malignaggi, Davies vs Matthews, Selby vs Gago, Cheeseman vs Sellars
BY KID HERSH
From the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, came a big fight card that has had a lot of buzz in the build up to it. Tony Bellew vs David Haye has been a roller coaster of a fight promotion - as one would expect though if you know the personalities involved at all whatsoever. The quips have been all over the place, from Haye calling Bellews supporters "fucking retards" and saying that he wants to send Bellew home on a stretcher - sparking the BBBoC to fire an investigation. Bellew has kept his head about him, even after being slapped by Haye at a press conference which is somewhat surprising considering Bellew is normally the one to get fired up with these things. He has of course fired back though, saying that Haye is the type of man who goes and parties with friends for Christmas instead of spending it with his family (referring to a Miami jaunt). It would seem that the animosity is real in this one and not just build-up, with some of the tell tale signs being just how far it has went already and the fact that both men said they do not care to know one another once it's all over. Bellew even claimed that while he respects Hayes fighting abilities in the ring he thinks he is a shitbag of a human being and will go about his life without caring to know him once it's all said and done.
First up on the broadcast was Ted Cheeseman (7-0, 6KO's) vs Jack Sellars (5-0-1, 1KO). In the first round Cheeseman looked impressive from the start against his fellow undefeated opponent. He was balanced and aggressive in his attack but showed very good upper body movement and defense. He was landing powerful uppercuts and right hands, buzzing Sellars a couple times near the end of the round. Very early in the second round Cheeseman countered a lazy jab by Sellars with a big right hand. The right hand beat Sellars jab and floored him. Surprisingly, he rose and made it through the round - showing an incredible show of guts in just getting up from the huge shot that thudded home perfectly flush while Sellars was going forward. Not only that, but he made it through the remainder of the round which was an onslaught from Cheeseman. In the third round it was domination by Cheeseman as he backed Sellars into the ropes and was landing great punches while showing off his great defense and movement at times. Cheeseman really looks like an amazing prospect. At the end of the third round he took more punishing flush punches - namely the right hand - and somehow managed to stay up yet again. Sellars came to this fight very game and very prepared physically - the difference in this fight though is the physical factor of Cheeseman not so much being a bigger man but he is much stronger, much faster, and just simply far more athletic. Sellars, as previously mentioned, was ever the game fighter though and not only continued fighting but by the fifth round was standing his ground a bit and not being backed into the ropes. His face was starting to show the damage taken with swelling and redness and some bleeding but he was making a case that he does not want to go anywhere. Cheeseman looked content with more so boxing his man going down the stretch, not pushing so hard for the knockout or sitting down on his punches as much. This is not because he was fatigued though, to my eyes, just more so a tactical approach to the fight because Sellars is not going to go anywhere tonight and so it's likely a wiser move for Cheeseman to box his man and if the stoppage comes, it comes. The fight would go the distance with both men coming out winners despite the scorecards being a landslide shutout decision for Cheeseman. What I mean is that Cheeseman showed an amazing display of skill, power, skills, ability, and stamina while dominating the fight and Sellars showed great fighting heart, toughness, grit/determination, and stamina among other things in getting up from an early knockdown and overcoming a beating to continue and even have some moments late in the fight.
Next up was Lee Selby (23-1, 8KO's) vs Andoni Gago (16-2-2, 5KO's). In the first round Selby showed right from the start that Gago is in way over his head. He dropped him early in the round with a left hook that landed to the top of the head as Gago was ducking down. He rose and made it through the round but Selby was toying with him easily. This continued through the second round as Selby settled down the nerves a bit more and was boxing Gago easily from the outside while using his great signature footwork to circle and confuse Gago. This continued, with Selby having fun in the ring while easily taming the bull in Gago that was following him around the ring in an attempt to land something - anything. In the fifth round Selby started to move forward, knowing that Gago could not hurt him at all. In the sixth round Selby was really sitting down on his punches while walking down Gago by the end of the round - stunning him iwth a few different punches and looking like he was on the verge of taking him out. Gago was showing great heart but the damage was mounting, with Selby coming forward in the eighth round and sitting down on his punches - sending Gago reeling around the ring. Gago made it through the eighth round but it sure looked like the fight was going to be over very shortly - which it was in the ninth round when the referee stepped in and stopped the fight with Gago fading fast and not being able to win this fight in any manner.
Next up was David Allen (10-2-1, 7KO's) vs David Howe (12-4, 6KO's). David Allen completed "Phase Two" for the "White Rhino" as he fought just last weekend and is staying active while looking to learn and climb the ranks. He started off the fight waling down Howe but not having any real success, with Howe picking his punches and moving easily on Allen. Then in the second round it was all changed in an instant when Allen landed a left to the body that crumpled Howe on the ropes and ended the fight in quick, sudden fashion. Look forward to seeing "Stage Three" for the White Rhino!
Next up was Ohara Davies (14-0, 11KO's) vs Derry Matthews (38-11-2, 20KO's) in a grudge match that started on social media. Davies has himself a mouth and is an interesting character that has suddenly surfaced due to having that personality that has caught lots of attention, in addition to his knockout record. Derry has seen better days after fourteen years in the sport and this is even a new division for him but he is a test for the youngster, no doubt. In the first round Davies was planting his back foot and covering up with a good guard while letting Matthews come at him and pick his spots for punches. Matthews did not having anything offer yet, and by the end of the first round was looking a bit nervous about Davies punching power - which has not landed flush yet. Davies was anxious though as well, leaving his feet with some punches and looking a bit amateur a couple of times. Both men were really taking their time in the second round, respectful of each other, but not too respectful as Davies went to touch gloves at the end of the round and Matthews wanted no part of it. In the third round Matthews took two flush right hands back to back in the first minute of the round. This was the first time in the fight Davies right hand landed flush and you could see that Matthews was hurt from it, but hiding it well like a veteran. It was not long after that another right hand followed by a combination sent him back into the ropes where he eventually succumbed to the pressure and took a knee. He rose, but went down again from another flurry and the fight was stopped shortly after he rose from that second knockdown but could not recover and defend himself. The post fight interview was a teary one for Derry, because he said this was the end of the line for him and he was done boxing. The two fighters had a long post fight interview and Davies said that he actually looked up to Matthews and hopes that he can accomplish some fo the great things that he has. All the pre fight smack talk was just to build the fight, he explained. Eddie Hearn paid his respects to Matthews and mentioned how he is a great ambassador for boxing with all of his community work and how he carries himself. It was a great moment to see - I wish boxing had more interviews like this post fight!
Next up was Paulie Malignaggi (36-7, 7KO's) vs Sam "The Savage" Eggington (19-3, 11KO's). Referee was Victor Loughlin. This is a highly anticiapted matchup to see how much Paulie has left in the tank vs how high Eggington can rise. In the first round you could see that Paulie was looking to stick and move, giving Eggington lots of angles while getting out of range. It only worked for a short period of time before Eggington found his range was hitting Paulie with shots by using his height and reach before Paulie could get back out of range. in the second round it picked up right where the third left off except that Eggington was landing right hands flush. Paulie was landing good shots as well - both to the body and the head and he was pumping his jab well but even when they traded shots equally - which was frequent - it was Paulie's head who was snapping from the punches. The story of the fourth round was Paulie's lead right hand, which he pulled out of his big bag of tricks to land on Eggington time and time again throughout the fourth to easily win the round for the first time in the fight. As Carl Froch pointed out commentating though; him sustaining this type of work rate is potentially a pipe dream for the older man. But - Paulie was really having his moments in this fight with his best one coming at the end of the sixth round when he stunned Eggington with a right hand that stood him up. Paulie followed up with a flurry of 20 unanswered punches, as Eggington dropped his guard and let Paulie hit him! We have ourselves a fight! The fight continued on close terms, with Eggington coming on strong in bursts and Paulie having his moments while moving and blunting Eggington's output with his movement and defense. Then suddenly in the eighth round Eggington landed a left hook to the liver that put Paulie down and out, unable to rise by the count of 10. Big win for Eggington here as the cards would show that Paulie was actually ahead at the time of the stoppage by two of the judges, which is not ridiculous at all whatsoever. The post fight interview was one of the best you will see though, as Paulie was colorful as usual and was basically talking as if he was commentating on the fight which was hilarious. He also said that the silver lining in the loss is that he felt Eggington was getting better as the fight went on and that he would learn from him, the veteran, so he was happy to play his role in advancing his career.
Next up was Katie Taylor (2-0, 1KO) vs Monica Gentili (6-6, 1KO). Taylor got the fifth round stoppage as Gentili was a bit of a punching bag, just continually coming forward throughout the fight behind no punching and was just taking shots round after round. Taylors movement looked good and she has quick hands.
Main event time featuring David Haye (28-2, 26KO's) vs Tony Bellew (28-2-1, 18KO's).