With the World Series of Boxing (WSB) making its debut at the iconic York Hall, the British Lionhearts really put on a show for their fans, defeating the visiting USA Knockouts in style. This encounter saw star boxers Andrew Selby and the Irish duo of John Joe Nevin and Joe Ward all deliver for the home team as the Lionhearts temporarily moved back into second place in Group B.
The night’s proceedings began with the Middleweight (68-73kg) bout between the home team’s newest recruit, Estonian bull Kaupo Arro, and the USA’s 23-year-old southpaw Jeffrey Camp. The American was cut above the right eye following an accidental clash of heads midway through the first round and with the ringside doctor unable to stop the bleeding in the second; the victory was awarded to the stocky Arro, with him leading on the judges’ scorecards.
Irishman Nevin started well in the Lightweight (57-61kg) contest with the current Olympic silver medallist battling his predecessor, French southpaw Daouda Sow in an interesting match-up. The sublime counter-punching skills of Nevin had Sow struggling in the first two rounds, with the screw shot twice connecting flush to the 29-year-old Frenchman’s jaw. Nevin continued to control the tempo after that, keeping his rival at distance throughout the four rounds before stepping up another gear in the fifth to finish with a flurry and win in style, giving his team a 2-0 advantage in the tie.
Two world class fighters then went head-to-head in one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the night as Great Britain’s 2011 AIBA World Championships silver medallist Selby battled the Knockouts’ 2012 Olympic bronze medal winner Michael Conlan at Bantamweight (50-54kg). Selby’s speed, switching of stance and deft combinations had him completely dominant in the first. The fleet-footed 24-year-old Lionhearts’ orthodox fighter was brimming with confidence as he showboated with an ‘Ali’ shuffle to get the crowd going. This spurred the fledgling Irish star into action however Selby stood firm to edge a fast and furious second. Conlan then came back strong in the third, landing several precise shots, but Selby upped the tempo once again for the fourth and fifth with his footwork making the difference as he extended his WSB record to 3-0 to move up to first in the individual ranking.
Joe Ward, the reigning European Champion, quickly settled into his Light Heavyweight (80-85kg) bout against the Knockouts’ Croatian Marko Calic in the penultimate fight of the night, dictating the tempo of proceedings from the centre of the ring with the jab. Excellent footwork from the Irish teenager saw him outclass his southpaw opponent in the following rounds as he mixed it up well throughout. Ward never really exploded into life but you could not fault his attitude as he recorded his third career WSB victory with an intelligent display.
Tall and powerful British Heavyweight (91+kg) Joseph Joyce then faced Avery Gibson from the USA. The 27-year-old Lionhearts orthodox fighter surprised his opponent with his speed and high work rate in the first round as he stamped his authority on proceedings early on. The experienced Gibson though manage to stand strong against the constant barrages of punches he was being subject to. It was an interesting fight with the American remaining dangerous with the big overhead. A huge right uppercut midway through the third then capped an impressive third round that Joyce took convincingly. The Lionhearts boxer continued to be dominant, with some good combinations being thrown, as he eased to his third win of season to make it a resounding victory for the home team.
It was simply a scintillating display by the Lionhearts who now travel to Italy to battle Docle & Gabbana Italia Thunder at the Palamaggio on Saturday 2 February. USA will be at home against Group B table-toppers Astana Arlans Kazakhstan at the Yost Theater two days before that.