By Matt Winsper



This Friday night sees two classy veterans finally get their long awaited title shots, as England’s Junior ‘The Hitter’ Witter and Washington, DC’s Demarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley face off for the vacant WBC Jr Welter title relinquished by Floyd Mayweather earlier this year.
The two have campaigned in high class for some time, with Witter winning 18 straight since a points defeat to Zab Judah in his first world title attempt back in 2000, whilst Corley has acquired a decent set of performances, both wins and losses, against some of the best the division has had to offer over recent years. He has even enjoyed a brief reign as a minor titlist, but this, his 37th fight, will be his first shot at one of the big three belts.
And with the two both employing a slick, flashy southpaw style (although Witter also switch hits), with sharp accurate punching and knockout power, the fight could either be a 12 round borefest, or an explosive, multi knockdown affair...the unpredictability is part of what makes the fight so interesting, coupled with the fact that this is as much of a 50/50 fight as you can get. The fans on hand at the Alexandra Palace in London, England will no doubt be looking forward to a highly competitive match up.
For Corley, 31-4-1 (17), it could be the crowning moment of a long, hard career. Despite having relatively few fights for a veteran, he has consistently fought world class foes since bursting onto the scene with an opening round demolition job on fellow puncher Felix Flores. Corley had took the bout on short notice, but was in incredible form. His quick, slashing punches and expert defence saw him follow that up with quality wins over Ener Julio and Randall Bailey before his streak was snapped when Zab Judah outscored him in a tepid, slow paced affair.
Corley returned against Floyd Mayweather Jr, and actually gave the undefeated pound-for-pound star a decent test, despite losing widely on the cards. Corley hit the deck several times, but also visibly rocked Mayweather with a fast counter punch and follow up burst of shots...probably the most hurt Mayweather has been since his novice days.

And if he looked good against Mayweather, he agains almost upset the applecart two fights later when coming within a single punch of beating Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto. In previous fights Cotto had looked flawless, demolishing or outboxing a long string of opponents. Promoter Bob Arum made no secret of announcing Cotto as the ‘next big thing’. Corley, however, stunned him with a right hook to the temple, and the undefeated Rican was left drunkenly staggering around the ring, his balance shot and his senses scrambled. Corley tried his best to finish it, but Cotto managed to see his way through the fight.

It was still all to fight for when Cotto had a break through in the 5th. Corley went down, seemingly unhurt and just taking a sensible breather to regain his composure...but referee Ismael Quinonez (a Puerto Rican himself) quickly waved the fight off, despite the fact that Corley appeared far less in danger than Cotto had two rounds earlier.

Obviously the American’s camp complained hard, but no rematch was given. Instead, Corley, now 32 years of age, marked time with two wins over journeymen and was rewarded with this title shot as Mayweather relinquished his belt to fight at 147lbs.

Witter, from Bradford, England has clocked up a much better run of wins, albeit in a lower league than Corley has mixed in. Witter, apart from a recent couple of opponents, has spent much of his time following the Judah defeat knocking over a series of Europeans and Africans, most of whom were utterly unable to fathom the lightning fast Englishman’s combinations, which are reminiscent of former featherweight champ Naseem Hamed’s (the two were developed in the same Sheffield gym under the tutelage of Brendon Ingle).

Witter’s flashy, hands down style saw him streak to an early 15-0-2 log. He was a quick fisted boxer, but with only four stoppages was not reckoned a puncher. Still, though, when Zab Judah came to Glasgow, Scotland to defend his IBF belt against Jason Rowland, and the latter was forced to pull out, Witter stepped in at just 24 hours notice. He showed flashes of his talent and made Judah look quite ordinary at times, but fought with too much caution. He was negative for long spells, and many Americans watching him for the first time on Showtime were put off.

Witter has since gone 18-0-0 with 15 stoppages, winning the British, Commonwealth and European belts and earning himself the WBC’s no.2 spot in the rankings (Corley is no.1). Those figures might sound impressive, but the names on them were not awe inspiring. The likes of Giuseppi Lauri, Salvatore Battaglia and Fred Kinuthia are not household names...but it was the WAY Witter destroyed them that won over so many. With rival Ricky Hatton climbing the rankings using an honest, man-of-the-people style and demeanour, Witter was his antithesis...the flash, brash bad boy, with a cruel style that humiliated then knocked out opponents. Most of his Commonwealth or European title fights were over within two or three dominant rounds. Despite many attempts to make the fight, Witter-Hatton never came off.

Witter finally gave America a taste of his new power punching style, and stepped up the opposition in the process, when taking on world ranked Lovemore N’dou in Los Angeles last year on the Hopkins-Eastman show. The iron-jawed N’dou was incredibly floored twice in the second...both legitimate, heavy knockdowns that confirmed Witter’s power was for real. The Englishman allowed N’dou back into the fight in the mid rounds, but won a decision to earn his high WBC ranking.
Following that, Witter seemed to lose a little steam. He outscored another world ranked opponent in Andreas Kotelnik, but looked almost disinterested in doing so. Then, in his last fight, he once more looked pedestrian and bored when labouring to another points win over Colin Lynes in a defence of the British, Commonwealth and European crowns. Some said Witter was slipping, but the Ingle camp insisted he was just ticking over whilst waiting for his big fight.

This certainly constitutes a big fight, as Witter gets home ground advantage in a genuine world title fight. Witter’s recent couple of fights aside, both are in their primes, and with plenty of time to prepare for this they will both be in great shape. Witter, a fast starter with many early knockouts, will undoubtedly come out with all guns blazing, whilst Corley, the more experienced in top class, will probably gain momentum as the fight goes. It all leads to a tantalising tactical battle, that will see both exhibit flashy boxing as they jostle for control, perhaps livened up occasionally by a knockdown as one gets home a fast counter punch.
Expect Witter to win most of the early rounds, maybe even dropping Corley as he opens up. However, the American is made of strong stuff, and will not collapse as many of Witter’s less accomplished opponents have. By the mid rounds, Corley will be back in the fight. And with Witter only having fought once in the last 12 months the Englishman may not cope with the pace as well. Also consider that in his distance fights with N’dou, Kotelnik and Lynes, he looked tired and sloppy in some parts of the fight. If Witter can hold it together, he could snatch the championship rounds to take a close win on home soil. However, for me it is more likely that the extra world level grounding of Corley sees him negotiate the twelve round distance a little more comfortably and pull out the win, putting him right back in the thick of the jr welterweights with a world crown.

The Pick: Witter starts fast, and maybe even scores an early knockdown, but Corley dusts himself off and eases himself into the fight. The American wins most of the middle rounds, and by the end it is tight on the cards. I predict Corley finishes a little more strongly over the final couple of sessions to snatch a close decision victory in front of Witter’s English fans...but I stress that this is a darned tough fight to pick. Corley by Split Deicisoin

Don’t forget to check in after the fight for Dean Moston’s RINGSIDE report!


Send questions and comments to: mattwinsper@yahoo.co.uk