On Saturday night I was reminded of the enduring fascination of boxing. Watching Britain’s Kid Galahad box meticulously through five completed rounds with the type of switch-hitting and accuracy that had become his forte and, seemingly coasting to a first defence of his IBF world featherweight title against an ageing challenger, I thought of the inevitability of the pending result. Then, for a split second a thought went through my mind…anything could happen THIS is boxing.
How many times had I watched a fight seemingly over in the first few rounds to then simply be turned on its head ? Is this not the fascination of boxing ? No other high profile sport can end on an instant with the seeming victor then becoming the vanquished.
In round five we at least got a clue, as the dominance of Galahad started to be slightly chipped away by Spanish challenger Kiko Martinez. All of a sudden the tempo of the fight started to change as Martinez came forward making some inroads after being totally outboxed for the four completed rounds.
Noticeably, as Galahad stepped out of exchanges he started to leave his chin exposed, but surely the sting had been taken out of Martinez ? Then, with 15 seconds left in the round…Martinez lurched forward again pressing the fight, and BOOM a ballistic long right hand landed on Galahad’s head and he hit the canvas. The shock of all at ringside, including promoter Eddie Hearn, was plain to see.
The champion managed to haul himself up to just beat the count and five seconds later the bell sounded to end the round. Galahad received a shocked but stern talking to by cornerman Dominic Ingle in between rounds, but the damage was already done.
As the sixth round started Martinez rushed across the ring to land another heavy right on the champion and Galahad hit the canvas again. The fight was waved off after 6 seconds by referee Steve Gray. The title changed hands dramatically to make the 35 year old Kiko Martinez (43-10-2, 30 KO’s) a two weight world champion. THIS is boxing.
It reminded me of a couple of fights from a bygone age. Rocky Marciano’s booming hook against ‘Jersey’ Joe Walcott to wrestle the world heavyweight championship in the 1950’s and, more recently and closer to the Sheffield Wincobank Gym, the devastating finish to Herol Graham’s third and final attempt to win the middleweight championship when bombed out by Julian Jackson. Both examples of single one punch shots that ended a contest that were seemingly going the other way.
Galahad dropped to (28-2, 17 KO’s) and will come again.
And yet, the drama of the evening was not limited to this contest. In a good Matchroom Promotion at the Utilita Sheffield Arena we saw a mere 30 minutes earlier another devastating punch end the contest between female WBC world super-featherweight champion Teri Harper (11-1-1, 6 KO’s) and American Alycia Baumgarner (11-1, 7 KO’s).
After a strong start the Detroit hitter landed a big right hand that literally froze Harper on stiff, shaky legs, before the referee jumped in to save her from the full force of a follow up left hook. The contest was waved off instantly after 0:23 of the fourth.
THIS is boxing.