Selby Closes In On World Title Shot With Win Over Koasicha

May 18 2014

Cleverly announces himself to Cruiserweight ranks with second round stoppage

Lee Selby moved a step closer to fulfilling his childhood dreams with a unanimous points victory over Romulo Koasicha in a WBC title eliminator on Saturday night. Elsewhere on the bill, Nathan Cleverely made a triumphant return to action and fans were treated to yet another fight of the year contender from Gavin Rees and Gary Buckland.

In this build up to the fight, Selby, the 25 year old from Barry described this fight as “the biggest night of his career” and he didn’t disappoint. The wide margins of 119-109 (twice) and 119-110 didn’t flatter Selby has he dominated virtually the entire contest from start to finish.

The effects of the American sparring were evident as Selby looked sharp and fast right from the opening bell. Selby outworked and outboxed the Mexican; looking a class above his opponent in the process. The sheer volume and accuracy of the punches being thrown were too much for Koasicha as he struggled to keep up with his lively opponent.

At the half way stage Selby was dominant, beating Koasicha to the punch and keeping him at arms length. By the 6th, Koasicha was running out of offensive ideas but to his credit, he did have a powerful punch in his arsenal which he displayed twice in the second half of the contest. The first in the 7th with a stiff uppercut and in the 8th, a hook stiffened Selby’s legs and led to the Welshman having to hold.

But those flashpoints aside, Selby rarely looked in trouble despite a cut over the eye. Selby was able to box comfortably off the back foot and despite not getting the stoppage late on, he deservedly took the decision to put him in a strong position to challenge for Jhonny Gonzalez’s WBC title and securing the WBC international super featherweight belt in the process.

The last time Nathan Cleverly fought in Cardiff, he had to be helped to his stool after a devastating defeat against Sergey Kovalev. Nine months on and in a new weight category, there were no such problems as the Cefn Fforest man dispatched Shaun Crobin inside 2 rounds. The former light heavyweight ruler made a fast start, looking to impose himself on the contest. Despite dominating the opening 3 minutes, none of his punches looked to have troubled his Trinidadian opponent.

But all that changed in the second. Cleverely’s accuracy was a worry for Corbin and after a right uppercut shook him, Cleverly didn’t need to be asked twice. Pinned against the ropes, the Welshman unleashed a barrage of powerful shots to the head and body before the referee came in and stopped the contest with 2:19 seconds of the second having past. Cleverely’s win gains him the WBC intercontinental title and sparks up talk of a rematch against rival Tony Bellew, who has also taken the step up to cruiserweight and was watching ringside as part of Sky Sports’ punditry team.

It is often said that sequels don’t live up to their predecessors. However, nobody informed Gavin Rees and Gary Buckland of that as the two fighters squared up for yet another incredible 12 rounds. Both fighters entered the ring to massive reception and as the first bell sounded, the excitement levels reached fever pitch.

Despite the three month break between the two contests, both fighters picked up where they left off. The tempo was frantic as the battle lines were drawn early on. Buckland came forward on the front foot but Rees used his experience and boxed well on the back foot. It was phone box stuff as both fighters traded big shots with one another with neither yielding an inch.

Going in to the second half of the fight, there wasn’t much separating either fighter. Rees’ counterpunching and style was matched with Buckland’s work rate. Rees had an excellent 9th round and at its finale, Buckland looked tired on his stool. The closing two rounds belonged to the Rock. In the 11th, he boxed superbly, unloading counter punches when the opportunities presented themselves.

At the start of the 12th and final round of the Rock’s distinguished career, both men embraced in the centre of the ring in a great show of respect between both men and the final three minutes didn’t disappoint with Rees coming out on top. The first time around, it was Buckland who took the split decision. This time, the Rock was announced the winner by the same verdict to the delight of the supporters inside the arena, sparking emotional scenes inside the ring.

It was another successful night for the fabled Smith family. Paul Smith Jr warmed up for a proposed match with WBO super middleweight ruler Arthur Abraham in the best way possible with a 2nd round TKO over David Sarabia. The Liverpudlian had his Spanish counterpart on the canvas in the first but it took him until 1:17 of the second to end the contest. Spiteful right hands from Smith rained down on Sarabia. With nothing coming back in reply, the referee rightfully called the contest early. Paul Smith will now vacate his British supermiddleweight title to challenge for world honours.

When he does vacate, one of the challengers for the strap will be his younger brother Callum Smith who produced a devastating display to stop the brave Tobias Webb in the 2nd round.

Webb started well, boxing solidly behind the jab in the first round. But in the second stanza, Smith produced a barrage of devastating body shots from both hands that dropped the Swansea man four times inside the round. To his credit, Webb got up three times but ultimately in vein as he continued to absorb punishment to the body. The fourth time of asking proved too much as the referee counted him out with 2 minutes 50 seconds gone of the second of the scheduled 10. Callum Smith improves his record to 11-0-0 with 9 victories coming inside the distance.

In one of the floating bouts of the evening, Mitch Buckland returned from a nine-month hiatus with a 60-54 shutout of Oxford’s Daza Usher at light welterweight. Buckland. The Cardiff man, brother of Gary Buckland, takes his record to 7(1)-0-0 after a very comfortable nights work, dominating from start to finish.

After the Sky Sports Cameras were switched off, those that stayed inside the arena saw Chris Jenkins defeat Miguel Aguilar by way of stoppage in the 7th of the 8th scheduled. The prizefighter champion’s variety of attack and speed caused problems for his Spanish counterpart throughout. After a right hook with 1:20 of the 7th elapsed, despite not hitting the canvas, the referee had decided he had seen enough. Jenkins remains undefeated

A technical draw was the result when two former Prizefighter contestants met in the form of Dale Evans and Mark Douglas. The contest was stopped with 1:44 of the 4th gone after an accidental clash of heads between the two combatants. Prior to the clash of heads, Douglas had dropped Evans to the canvas during the twilight moments of the second. Although an accidental clash of heads cut Rowlands in the third, the clash in the fourth was far more serious and required Evans to have 5 internal and 15 external stitches put in to close the cut. With the 4th of 8 not having been completed, the referee had to award the technical draw despite Douglas’ belief that he had won the contest.

Robbie Turley continued on his comeback path with a victory over the experienced Marc Callaghan after the Dagenham man retired on his stool prior to the third. Although little separated the two in the opening exchanges, a flare up of Douglas’ shoulder problem forced a premature end to the proposed 6 rounder.

Kicking off the evening was Maerdy’s Alex Hughes’ first soiree as a professional against Mark Till from Stoke. After a successful amateur career, Hughes made a seamless transition into the paid ranks, stopping Till in the fourth and final round of the advertised contest. Hughes’ speed and accuracy, which he displayed during his amateur years, proved too much Till.