Championship boxing returned to England’s second city for the first time in several years…and the ‘bang’ in the headline was a literal one for two reasons. Firstly, the fans were treated to a fantastic tear up between local British Welterweight champion Young Mutley and his Commonwealth counterpart Kevin Anderson, and secondly because of a disgraceful brawl that erupted between the two rival groups of supporters. For about ten minutes, the whole arena was in uproar as an idiotic group of local Neanderthals charged into Anderson’s Scottish supporters, kicking off a full scale melee that saw innocent spectators scrambling for their safety.
Anderson, who was floored heavily in the second by a monster left hook and battered in the ensuing rounds, bravely fought his way back into the contest, and finally took charge as Mutley tired, stopping the West Bromwich local in the tenth. As the referee stepped in to rescue the exhausted Mutley, I actually glanced around from my ringside seat to check the response from the Midlands supporters. Being a Midlander myself, I know just how passionate support can be from Birmingham and West Midlands fans, seeing every week the violence that ensues after a Birmingham City or Aston Villa soccer match. True to form, I saw one of Mutley’s supporters stand up and cry to his fellow thugs, “C’mon, lads, let’s f—kin’ do ‘em!”
With that, he charged across the room and began wading into the celebrating Scots, followed by a wave of local idiots, all clenching their fists in rage, determined to get a hold of one of Kevin Anderson’s cheering fans. MC John McDonald implored them to settle, but it took a good ten minutes or so before the fan’s rage dissipated enough for them to be ejected by security or the arriving police force.
Such an incident could only reflect badly on the fans, but the boxers should receive all the credit in the world, as they produced a thrilling see-saw battle. Mutley, an unlikely British champion following an ignominious start to his pro career which saw him battling in inconsequential four rounders at small hall venues, had a great start, flattening Anderson in the second with a heavy left hook. The Scot made it to his feet, but looked out of it. The following exchange saw Mutley go down, and it looked from where I was sat that a left hook from Anderson had helped him down, but it was called a slip. The two exchanged heavy blows for the remainder of the round, but Mutley was in control.
The British champion continued to land heavy left hooks to head and body in the third, and really turned on the pressure in the 4th, in which Anderson was cut and hurt by the onslaught Mutley was delivering upon him.
In some ways, this was a pivotal moment in the fight. Mutley laid everything on the line, but Anderson sucked it up and got through it. After this round, the fight changed, as Mutley looked a little tired and Anderson gained a second wind. Rounds 5 to 8 were all close, but it was evident that Anderson was boxing with more and more confidence. As the 9th started, he was moving, popping in the jab, and even backing Mutley up into the ropes with quick barrages as the Midlander slowed.
Mutley’s capsize in the 10th was still sudden and shocking, however. With both trading heavy shots, Mutley suddenly backed out of an exchange with a pained expression on his face. He was sucking in gasps of air, and his muscular frame had a flaccid look to it, as though the energy had been drained from it. Anderson seized his moment and poured on the pressure, backing a weary looking Mutley back into the ropes, where his head lolled in exhaustion. The referee seized his chance, and jumped into rescue the dazed Midlander, and Kevin Anderson celebrated his magnificent win as the Birmingham supporters began their degrading and violent protests.
“That was a big, big win!” Anderson gasped to Sky TV moments afterwards, “he is a great fighter and a hell of a puncher but I trained hard. It’s great having these two belts and I had to come through a hell of a fight.”
For the Scot, now 17-0-0 (11), it was a third championship win in a row, and he can look forward to more big fights in an action packed British welterweight division, especially at only 23 years of age. Mutley, now 20-2-0 (11), can come again, as losing in one of Britain’s fights of the year for 2006 is no disgrace. A rematch would be welcome….but let’s hope the idiots who turned out to support their man this time around are conspicuously absent next time.
On the undercard, Birmingham jr middle prospect Matthew Macklin looked sharp and in shape as he bombarded Marcin Piatkowski for four rounds until the Polish journeymen finally capitulated from a barrage of punches, referee Terry O’Connor waving the fight off as Piatkowski reluctantly staggered up for the mandatory 8 count.
Macklin had been rocking his head back with jabs, and digging in hurtful body shots throughout, encouraged from ringside by trainer Billy Graham, of Ricky Hatton fame. The Midlander of Irish descent improved to 17-1-0 (13), and could be an exciting addition to the jr middle ranks, both domestically and internationally.