MAFB: Queensberry Taylor vs Khongsong
Josh Taylor is a bad, bad man. Say what you want about Khongsong and his inability to take a shot, but their fight speaks volumes of the levels between elite world champions and challengers. Apinan Khongsong fetal positioned after Taylor landed a liver shot, the first significant shot of the fight. It took several agonising minutes before Khongsong was able to rise. Either Khongsong needs to be flown off to Hollywood pronto, or most likely, the Thai fighter was experiencing genuine pain. Taylor is not known as a one-punch knockout artist, his thumping shots instead aim to break down opponents late. While the fight itself does little to boost the star power of Taylor, it does reaffirm that he should only be fighting the very best. But, a quick nights payday and a full training camp under his belt, it was a justifiable night for the Scotsman.
In complete contrast, Charlie Edwards farted out a dire performance against the very limited Kyle Williams. Unwilling to mount any meaningful offence, Edwards spent most of the ten-round fight slipping out the side and out-manoeuvring the frustrated Williams. It is all well and good boxing on the back-foot, but the flashy footwork and head movement needs to be combined with counter-striking to win scorecards and keep opponents tentative. The move to Bantamweight seems like a mistake and should hopefully be rectified with Edwards moving back down to Flyweight or Super Flyweight. Unfortunately, this would mean Edwards having to face fearsome punchers at Super Flyweight (Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Jerwin Ancajas) or his old foe Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar at Flyweight. Edwards is currently in a boxing purgatory and needs to consider his future very carefully.
David Oliver Joyce vs Ionut Baluta (Baluta def. Joyce // TKO Round 3 1:49)
Okay, maybe Baluta can hit a little harder than his record suggests. It was already well-known that Baluta pushes a ridiculous pace from the get-go, but his lack of power had always been a limiting factor. On Saturday, Baluta’s shots were thrown with a previously unseen sting. David Oliver Joyce was a fine amateur boxer, winning three European Golds and making it to the last sixteen of the Olympics. Granted, Joyce turned pro late in his career at thirty-years-old but really, he should have had the quality to overcome Baluta. Baluta tossed a couple decades experience aside as he rushed out from the opening bell and threw a relentless whirlwind which tagged Joyce more often than not. Unsurprisingly, Joyce was able to land hard counters directly on the chin of Baluta. Quite surprising was Joyce’s counters seemed to have no effect on the physical or mental of the Romanian.
Baluta showed a couple extremely pleasing offensive combinations that broke down his opponent. Pushing a double and triple jab, Baluta closed the distance before throwing a right hook which lifted the guard of Joyce. Exposing Joyce’s midriff, Baluta had created the opening for his best punch, a liver shot tucked underneath the elbows of Joyce. The speed of Baluta’s liver shot is very tasty, and if he sits down and torques more power into it as he did against Joyce, it will take him far in his career. Additionally, the finishing shot of the fight was the end result of a double left-hook which Baluta had regularly attempted to land. Throwing heavily off of the left hand, Baluta forced Joyce to keep his own dangerous right hand largely inactive in guard. Defensively, Baluta needs to work on his feints. Often dropping his hands when he faked a level change, he was tagged hard by Joyce. Against a harder hitting opponent, it is far too costly to risk.
The future for both men:
David Oliver Joyce: Joyce has had a fine amateur career, but has never really made a mark in the professional ranks. Perhaps fighting too long in the amateurs, or too old for the pro’s, Joyce looked slow against Baluta. Moreover, Joyce’s chin was unable to hold up against one of the feather dusters of the division. It is time to hang up the gloves or accept a new role as a domestic gatekeeper.
Ionut Baluta: At only twenty-six, Baluta has a tasty future in front of him. Now WBO European champion, Baluta should earn a couple moderate paydays by defending his title against the continents challengers. It surely cannot be long before Baluta cracks into the WBO top-fifteen rankings and can challenge some of the big boys.
George Davey vs Jeff Thomas (Davey def. Thomas // Decision 40-36)
Tall and rangey, George Davey utilises his jab to paw in front of the face of his opponent. A right hand firmly tucked under his chin, Davey focuses on head movement rather than opting to take shots on his guard. As a result, it allows Davey to land faster, less mechanically-intensive counters. Jeff Thomas tried to bully Davey early in the first round, but Davey was able to sway, slip the incoming shots, and tag Thomas with unseen counter shots. After landing a few left hooks on the counter, Davey had gained the respect of Thomas, and was able to pump out his jab with more juice. A big shout-out also for switching levels with the double jab. Starting on the chin and finishing on the body, Davey’s shot selection was pleasing for a prospect.
Shot selection is perhaps the strongest element of Davey’s game. Patient in the pocket, Davey had the time to choose his next shots and seemingly created his own combinations on the spot. Corkscrew uppercuts to engage, triple jabs to break Thomas’ guard before slipping in a right hook, and left hooking off of the jab – Davey kept it diverse and left Thomas dazed and confused.
The future for both men:
George Davey: Big hopes for the prospect, he has a large frame to grow into and the skills to progress further as he tighten his fundamentals. Carry on very slowly ramping up the competition, no need to rush his development just yet.
Jeff Thomas: Thomas has had a fun stop and start career, this was probably his last payday from boxing. Thomas may knock over a couple cans to face off against another prospect, but there isn’t really hope for Thomas to rise out of the cellar at this point.
1 – Completely Amateur (Regional Can)
5 – Average calibre (Feeder League Elite)
10– Prodigious (GOAT)
N/A – Categories that weren’t touched upon during the fight
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Prospect Watch: George Davey
Veteran Schooling: N/A
Biggest Surprise: Josh Taylor’s first round (first shot) stoppage of Khongsong
Fight of the Night: David Oliver Joyce vs Ionut Baluta
Finish of the Night: Baluta TKO Joyce Round 3
Take-away comments: Still can’t see the hype around Jordan Flynn yet but he is young and very green, so hopefully I turn out to be wrong.