MAFB: Matchroom Buatsi vs Calic
One hundred and ninety amateur fights worth of experience helps you in the professional ranks it would seem? Make no mistake, Joshua Buatsi started (and ended) the fight very flat. Concrete feet, head on the centre line, slow to counter, Buatsi struggled to dominate the early proceedings and instead settled for the fight which suited Calic. At range, Calic was able to use his long frame to out-work Buatsi and bring him into uncomfortable waters that he had never swum in before. Calic’s real mistake was allowing Buatsi easy access into short-range and absorbing needless damage from in-fighting that he really didn’t have to take. Buatsi’s swollen eye left him vulnerable at distance, and Calic was piecing him apart. Letting Buatsi inside negated the injury as he was able to land anywhere he threw. Buatsi’s pressure would eventually lead to Calic’s (claimed) broken jaw and the stoppage in the seventh round. One hundred and ninety amateur fights worth of experience doesn’t help you adapt to circumstances in the professional ranks it would seem?
Fair play to Matchroom for this card, it was filled with some tasty affairs because they were competitive. Fiaz/Baker was a battle of two halves as Fiaz dominated the earlier proceedings off of his slick back-foot boxing, while Baker surged at the end with his relentless bull-rushing. Cameron/Araujo showcased Cameron’s skills and placed a red cross on Araujo who missed weight by five pounds and looked cumbersome, lethargic and frankly amateur. Linus Udofia made a statement as he defended his English Middleweight title with a stoppage over the rugged John Harding Jr. Debutant John Hedges also squeaked a decision against unknown Jan Ardon, with an Ian John Lewis scorecard that stank the place out. The 18-year-old fell apart after the first-round after he realised his shots had little effect on Ardon.
Aqib Fiaz vs Kane Baker (Fiaz def. Baker /// Decision Referee’s Scorecard – 77-75)
A draw was the fair assessment for this fight, but a Fiaz decision victory is certainly not a robbery as has been claimed by some online. Fiaz commanded the first half of the fight with patient backfoot boxing reminiscent of Carl Frampton. Fiaz’s right hand was perched across his chest, threatening to explode every time Baker lunged into land. A left hook and right uppercut was the favoured combination off of the ropes, before sliding out of the side and leaving Baker stood clueless. The fight seemed destined for a shut-out as Baker was left following the shadow of Fiaz and taking harmless but regular shots.
Then at the halfway point, Fiaz declined from his already limited volume. Baker did not begin to cut off the ring more effectively, but rather Fiaz no longer had the pep in his step to out-manoeuvre the terrier-like aggression of Baker. Baker’s hooks started to land and to turn the tide in his favour. Fiaz landed clean on occasion, but Baker’s chin held up and he refused to let up the front-foot barrages. Despite his youth, Fiaz showed intelligence as he clinched often in the closing rounds. Ian John Lewis was poor again. Removing Baker’s hard-earned advantage, Lewis separated the clinches in the centre of the ring rather than in the original position with Fiaz backed up to the ropes. A close fight, either man could have shaved a decision with little argument, but a draw was probably the fairest result.
The future for both men:
Aqib Fiaz: Only twenty-one, Fiaz will have learnt a tremendous amount in the eight-round scrap. Weak during the later rounds, Fiaz will need to work on incorporating more volume or patching up his in-fighting skills. Beating Baker in only his sixth fight is a great scalp, however, and should perhaps chase a regional Area title before thinking bigger.
Kane Baker: A fabulous display of heart and endurance with little to take-away from the fight other than respect. Baker is firmly Area level competition, but he could win an English title if the correct opponent was to appear. Whether Baker is able to secure that opportunity is unlikely.
Alen Babic vs Niall Kennedy (Babic def. Kennedy // TKO Round 3 0:34)
Maaaaaaan, Babic is so damn limited. He almost punched himself out in two rounds against very modest competition. It is entertaining to watch Babic fight, and he is must-watch heavyweight slugger action, but Babic is not going to survive against more qualified opposition. An utter lack of a jab, Babic swings for the fences with hooks that often miss but a few land due to the volume. Kennedy managed well in the first round, bending at the knees and absorbing many shots on the guard. By the second, Kennedy had begun to land short counter shots and was starting to take the wind out of Babic’s limited gas tank. Unfortunately for the Irishman, he was caught early in the third round and IAN JOHN LEWIS jumped in somewhat early to stop it. There was little complaints from Kennedy, so Lewis was correct to end it, but it still seemed early as Kennedy had not taken any shots since rising from count.
Babic must understand his lack of fundamentals and choose to box in his explosive manner as a means to patch over his weaknesses. With the correct match-making, a quality of Eddie Hearn, Babic can remain knocking over opponents for the foreseeable future. Where you take Babic, however, is the question. Who will the prospect be that Hearn eventually feeds him to? Anybody with a half-decent guard and the ability to throw punches after the second round has a real chance of taking Babic’s 0.
The future for both men:
Alen Babic: Carry on knocking over the unknowns of the heavyweight division. A really fun fight after a couple more cans would be Zhilei Zhang, an ageing fighter who has never really tested himself. As Zhang is likely far too strong, perhaps Nick Webb would make for fireworks.
Niall Kennedy: Kennedy has now been stopped twice in a row, and it looks like the thirty-six-year-old may be unable to ever break out of domestic squalor. Athletically behind many of behemoths at heavyweight, Kennedy could probably knock over a couple cans and challenge another prospect for a last payday.
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: Linus Udofia
Veteran Schooling: N/A
Biggest Surprise: Jan Ardon
Fight of the Night: Chantelle Cameron vs Adriana Araujo
Finish of the Night: Joshua Buatsi TKO Marko Calic
Take-away comments: A flat performance by Buatsi but every top fighter has an off day.