Undercard report from Friday night
Gary Woolcombe TKO7 Gilbert Eastman... A ridiculously premature stoppage marred Gary Woolcombe’s victory over Gilbert Eastman. ‘Hot Stuff’ continues to demonstrate his progress and his sharper punching and superior stamina meant he was well on his way to defeating Eastman, who looked as if he’d run out of steam by the sixth round. However, while Eastman was against the ropes and had shipped a series of hefty blows, he was clearly still in a position to continue when the referee jumped in during the seventh round, leaving the boxer justifiably outraged at the decision. Nonetheless, ironically it was actually Woolcombe who suffered the most from the referee’s decision, as it robbed him of the more conclusive victory that his performance deserved. Furthermore, the York Hall crowd clearly felt the ‘house’ fighter had been gifted the fight and he consequently faced a chorus of booing rather than applause when the result was announced. Woolcombe can take consolation from the knowledge that he is now ready to mix it with the best light-middleweights on the domestic scene.
Kreshnick Qato W4 Simon Lucas... Albanian fighter Kreshnick Qato, now campaigning at light heavyweight, continues to enjoy a unique level of support bordering on the fanatical among his fellow London-based expats. Hundreds of his fans packed the venue for his bout against Simon Lucas on the undercard, waving Albanian flags and chanting throughout the duration of his points win. He was then carried out of the ring on the shoulders of his adoring countrymen. If a journeyman like Qato is able to enjoy this type of following then the first promoter to unearth an Armenian champion is surely going to have a licence to print money. The only shame is that once Qato’s bout was over, his supporters streamed out of the York Hall, rather than staying on to watch the main event.
Steve Ede KO2 Jake Guntert... One single incident served to illustrate the wonderful nature of British fight fans that makes us the envy of boxing observers around the world. Unbeaten middleweight Jake Guntert was on the undercard facing another undefeated fighter in the form of Southampton’s Steve Ede. Gunthert entered the ring to a Spaghetti Western theme, and he and a group of his hometown fans sported cowboy hats. Unfortunately for him, Ede packed the bigger gun on this occasion, in the form of a huge right-hand that put Guntert on the canvas in the second round. As the clearly dismayed Gunthert left the ring, his fans chanted loudly: “We love you Jakie, we do”, and calling on their man to give them a wave, which he duly did. An action that gained him a loud cheer from his classy contingent.
Congratulations to Maloney Promotions, which staged a great value-for-money bill. I’m glad to see that Frank is doing well enough to ditch the naff Union Jack suits for what looked like a tailor-made suit straight out of Saville Row! However, it wouldn’t hurt to take some lessons from other event management companies working in different fields – my companion and I found it a bit of an ordeal to secure tickets due to the lack of internet booking facilities or the fact that tickets aren’t available at the venue prior to the night. After phoning Maloney Promotions on a couple of occasions the tickets were eventually secured, but a more customer-friendly set-up would surely help entice more people into attending live events. Boxing has to embrace modern conventions, particularly if it wants to attract ‘fresh blood’.
On a personal note, after nearly seven years out of the country this was the first time this reporter had made the ‘pilgrimage’ to that Mecca of boxing, the York Hall. It lived up to all the hype and I would urge any of you who haven’t already experienced the incredible atmosphere of the Bethnal Green venue to make a visit yourself, as it really is a unique experience. The balcony seats in particular allow you to enjoy an outstanding view of the action, and you’ll gain a far greater appreciation of the intensity of the action than you’ll ever be able to gain from armchair viewing. There really is no comparison. Having said that, there’s also less disguising the brutality, and Magee’s KO was chilling to witness at close hand – a genuine heart-in-mouth moment. It brought it home in stark relief that this is a hard, hard business and no-one should be under any illusion about that.
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