It was four out of four for Hennessy Sports promoted fighters at the York Hall in Bethnal Green on Friday night, (October 21st), with Junior Witter, Billy Corcoran, John O’Donnell and Dave Stewart all registering victories.
For Witter – who defended his British, Commonwealth and European light welterweight titles against the extremely well supported Colin Lynes - it was a case of getting the job done. Whie the 31-year-old had been hoping to secure his 16th stoppage in 18 contests, it was evident from the opening bell that it might instead by a case of getting through an awkward night’s work in order to secure his final eliminator for the WBC title, (currently held by Floyd Mayweather), against Italian Gianluca Branco early next year.
Lynes, by and large, came to survive. For the first four rounds he continually retreated from the circling champion’s onslaughts, tucked up extremely tightly and offered nothing by way of attack aside from the very occasional, cursory jab. Increased aggression saw him find some rare success in the fifth, but Witter immediately tidied up things in the sixth and almost forced the stoppage with a sustained barrage in a neutral corner that went unanswered.
This set a pattern for the rest of the fight. On every occasion the challenger attempted to come forward, Witter took the openings this provided with relish to rapidly send him back into his shell. The champion couldn’t, however, force the end and after a scrappy closer, during which Lynes was cheered to rafters by hundreds of loyal supporters, had to settle for scores of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-114.
“I said Lynes was being underestimated beforehand,” said Witter afterwards. “He is very tough, technically good and has an extremely solid chin. He was able to make things very difficult for me.
“I wasn’t that pleased with my performance, I didn’t put my shots together as well as I would have liked, but a win is a win and I am still British, Commonwealth and European champion and I will be a world champion. I need that big fight now against a big name. That is what I am hungry for.”
The star of the show was undoubtedly Billy Corcoran. Many saw the likeable 24-year-old as the underdog going into his challenge against English super featherweight champion Roy Rutherford, but their scripts were well and truly torn up.
The Galway born, Wembley based, Corcoran ripped out of the blocks to dominate from the very first bell, mixing in ferocious shots to the head and body from behind a piston of a jab. Rutherford returned to his corner at the close of the opener with a look of relief.
His respite was too short. The challenger landed a peach of a left hook, right hook combination to heavily floor his man towards the end of the second and followed up with a vicious onslaught that was only halted by the bell.
More of the same followed from Corcoran over the next two sessions and the stoppage looked near. Rutherford’s corner perhaps felt the same and compassionately pulled their man out before the start of the fifth, citing a cut.
“I was in the shape of my life for this,” said Corcoran afterwards. “It was my first title fight, so I really dedicated myself to my training. I could have boxed 20 rounds tonight, even at that pace. I feel I have come of age. After a couple more fights I want to fight for the British. I really hope that I can sometime next year.”
Galway man John O’Donnell also looked the business. As a junior amateur he won virtually every title going including Olympic, Four Nations and European gold. He will climb the heights as a pro. The 19-year-old fights out of the southpaw stance so effectively that he dazzles opponents with his quick hands, as he demonstrated on this undercard in a six round welterweight contest. His opponent Catweazle Hudson simply did not know what to do with him so abandoned his typical have a go attitude in order to simply survive.
Hennessy Sports lightweight Dave Stewart also took a landslide points decision. He outpointed the wild Judex Meemea, also over six, to line up his soon to be rescheduled eliminator for the British title against Danny Hunt.
Stewart navigated past this potential banana skin with his typical composed, efficient approach. It is hard to see him not progressing to major honours.