Report by Gianluca Di Caro
Photos courtesy of Armando Ferrari
Scottish Promoter Thomas Melville made his intentions clear for all to see with his debut event on Saturday night, even with seriously major dramas leading up to the event, including losing one of his big draws, former WBO Featherweight King Scott Harrison, from the card just a few weeks before, and two further match-ups dropping out in the days leading up to the show, yet the canny Scotsman still managed to produce an excellent, albeit it smaller, event.
Heading up the show was Glasgow’s former Commonwealth Champion Craig Docherty against Dundalk, Ireland’s Michael Kelly for the vacant World Boxing Union (WBU) World Super Welterweight title.
The atmosphere was electric as the two protagonists made their entrance into the arena, the Scottish fans sure do know how to make an occasion like this really special.
Right from the opening bell both boxers made their intention crystal clear and within seconds the toe to toe battle for centre ring began in earnest.
When I say toe to toe I mean toe to toe, whilst much of the action was at close quarters, at times they were that close to one another that you couldn’t have wedged a cigarette paper between them, so much so that referee Lee Murtagh had no option but to warn them about head clashes on numerous occasions.
Now even though they were that close neither man went defensive, both showcasing their exceptional tools of the trade to great effect, with slick hooks and upper cuts coming from all angles.
Docherty managed to just about secure the first couple of rounds, only just as they were so evenly matched, but in the third Kelly stepped it up, making himself a little space he really got into a flow and was letting rip with scintillating shots from every single conceivable angle.
Docherty responded in similar vein, however the slickness of Kelly’s work made it an upward battle for the Glaswegian.
Round four see Docherty change tactics, using his jab to great effect to set up the openings in order to let rip with some vicious body shots, however the Irishman seemed quite happy to soak these up before countering with powerful rights and the occasional double handed flurry.
Round five was a spectacular round, both protagonists raised the pace even further, which ultimately led to some fearsome exchanges. It was really hard to decide who fared the best or if either outfought or outworked the other, yes it was that close.
More of the same in the sixth, boy oh boy did they go at it hammer and tongs for the first couple of minutes or so of the round.
In an instant Referee Lee Murtagh went to the Irishman’s assistance and waved the fight off, which sent Docherty, his team and fans into a joyous frenzy.
Have to say what an appreciative crowd in attendance, as the cheers of joy for Docherty were outweighed by the magnificent reception they gave Michael Kelly as he rose to his feet, these were genuine fans, their man won but they were equally appreciative of the magnificent performance of the Irishman.
Just before Docherty was crowned the new WBU Super Welterweight Champion the official time of the stoppage was announced, as two minutes and nine seconds of the sixth.
Main support for the Docherty-Kelly title fight was set to be Edinburgh’s Craig McEwan against Newport’s Lee Churcher, however this was not to be due to a weight discrepancy that was unable to be resolved in time, so some quick negotiations led to Nottingham based Czech fighter Vaclav Skromach being drafted in as a very late replacement.
McEwan started strong, taking the fight to the Czech lad, Skromach though is no mug and a nice tidy fighter himself and soon started letting rip with shots of his own.
McEwan started to target the body, coming in from some unbelievable angles to land some fearsome exocets, Skromach adjusted his defenses but clearly some were having the desired effect.
Skromach held his own well for the first couple of minutes but as the round entered into the final minute McEwan stepped up the punishment to the body, culminating with an awesome hook that landed right on the button to send Skromach to take to one knee.
It was a seriously vicious shot, so nobody was surprised that Skromach was unable to continue, again as with the main event the Scottish fans celebrated their man’s victory as well as applauded Skromach as he rose to his feet.
The official time of the stoppage was announced as two minutes and twenty nine seconds of the first round.
Prior to McEwan-Skromach was another six rounder, between Nairn’s Sandy Robb and Scunthorpe’s Jody Meikle.
Robb started fast, utilizing a good stiff jab and big rights that kept the highly entertaining Meikle in check and on the back foot for the first minute or so, but then the Scunthorpe lad began coming forward more, picking off Robb with some cracking right hands.
As the round went on Robb started to become even more forceful, leaving Meikle no option but to utilize hit and move tactics, most of the time he got these spot on but occasionally the Scotsman preempted these and was able to land a big right as Meikle attempted to slip out of range.
More of the same in the second, but in the third Meikle began to play to the crowd, especially when backed on to the ropes, cheekily winking at the ring card girls whilst avoiding shots.
Normal service resumed in the fourth, Robb began cutting off the ring to prevent Meikle utilizing his hit and run tactics, this was highly effective for the Scotsman as with nowhere to move to the Englishman had no option but to box his way out from the ropes, which he did in style.
As the fight settled into the final third, Meikle again began to play to the crowd, but in dong so ensured that this time he had judged the distance adequately to prevent the big looping rights from the Scotsman landing.
The final round was a cracker, whilst still in a similar vein as the previous round, with Robb backing the Englishman onto the ropes as Meikle played to the crowd, there was some excellent and highly entertaining boxing from both parties.
After six interesting, entertaining rounds Referee Lee Murtagh scored the bout 60-54 in favour of Robb.
The opening bout of the night see Rivals Gym’s former unified World Kickboxing Champion Sam Allan in action against Downpatrick, Ireland’s returning Marty Kayes.
Have to say this really was a cracking fight, both protagonists giving their all for every single second of every round, it was a true non-stop battle royale.
After four excellent rounds of boxing Referee Lee Murtagh scored the bout 40-37 in favour of Allan, much to the local fans delight.
Congratulations to Thomas Melville and his team, not only did they overcome the adversity of losing their co-headline bout as well as a few of the scheduled bouts, but still managed to put on an excellent event.
Congratulations are in order for Craig Docherty, who joins the likes of Ricky Hatton, Graham Earl, Kevin Lear, Shea Neary, Tony Oakey, Wayne Elcock, Wayne Alexander and other British legends of the past in becoming crowned the WBU World Champion.