The big star everyone wanted to see on the undercard of the Calzaghe fight was Bolton hero Amir Khan, the brilliant Olympic Silver medallist of 2004 making his second professional appearance.
His first fight was a one round blow out, but this time we got to see more of Khan, as tough little journeyman Baz Carey, also of England, took a hell of a beating but went the four round distance. Khan, still only 18, landed with razor sharp right hands throughout, and also went to the body effectively, but brave little Carey was determined to go to the final bell, even when cut over his left eye in the first round. He finished with his face a crimson mask and his ribcage bruised and battered, but his pride intact.
“All the credit to Baz,” conceded the victorious Khan afterwards, “He was very strong. He took the shots very well.”
Much is hoped to come from Khan in the future. He is widely touted as a champion-in-the-making, and is also one of the country’s better known boxers despite being just two fights into his professional career. After his successes at the Athens Olympics on national TV, it is probable that he is better know to the general public than more the established headliner of the show, Joe Calzaghe. If he actually can fulfil his potential remains to be seen, but as far as delivering the goods to the Cardiff crowd here, he was a resounding success. His travelling Bolton fans and the Welsh majority were enthralled by his performance throughout, and there’s no denying Amir Khan is already one of the country’s big stars!
Tony Doherty, now 15-0, came through the toughest test of his career, winning a hard-fought 10 rounder with fellow Welshman Taz Jones in the official chief supporting contest. The referee’s card read 98-94, but that didn’t tell the true story, as this was genuinely a one or two point fight either way. Jones was the aggressor, coming forwards and throwing plenty of leather from the first round onwards, whilst Doherty generally picked his punches better and had the better quality. Press row all agreed that this was razor-close, up until the 9th round when Doherty suddenly went for broke. A series of right hands had Jones looking unsteady, and the brave battler looked ready to go as the bell saved him. Doherty continued to work him over in the 10th, but as the final bell rang I was still unsure as to who the referee would pick. My own card read 96-95 for Doherty, but some of the early rounds could easily have gone either way, and Jones’ supporters obviously felt hugely aggrieved when Doherty’s hand was raised and the wide score-total was announced. The booing went on for several minutes, but for my mind Doherty had nicked a good, hard win to add to a promising young career.
Power puncher Gary ‘The Rocket’ Lockett of Cwmbran, Wales looks back to his devastating best after demolishing Allan Gray, now 17-7-2 in just two rounds. Lockett had been on the fast track to a title shot until he was surprisingly outfought by Yuri Tsarenko a few years ago, and has spent the time since rebuilding his confidence. His return win over Tsarenko was a cautious boxing display, and Lockett looked a little gun shy, but seven wins since that loss, Lockett looks like the natural puncher he used to be as he clocked up his 24th win in 25. After a quiet opener, two heavy right hands deposited Gray onto the canvas by the ropes, and as the Englishman tried to rise, he was dazed, only managing to half-erect himself before the referee reached the count of 10. It will be interesting to see where Lockett goes now. A showdown with British Middleweight champion Scott Dann would be a natural punch up between two domestic knockout artists, or a match with former world contender Howard Eastman would assess how far the Welsh bomber can go. However, promotional conflicts may derail those two matches, so expect to see Lockett build up his record with international opposition instead.
Youngster Barrie Jones scored the quickest win of the night when blitzing Cardiff local Jaz Malik with two knockdowns in the first round of a welterweight 4 rounder. Heavily muscled Malik tried to swap leather with the unbeaten kid, but was floored heavily by a blistering left-right combination. On resumption, Jones pounced on him and Malik went down again under the follow up onslaught, which prompted the referee to wave the fight off. Malik complained, but with 5 quick defeats in his last 6 outings this was only going to end one way. Jones advances to 4-0 and is a good prospect with fast hands.