By: Ste Rowen
Not seen in the ring since last October’s defeat to Jack Catterall, tonight at London’s famous York Hall, Ohara Davies scored a 97-94 decision victory over boxing veteran Miguel Vazquez. The victory both returns ‘Two Tanks’ to winning ways but also improves his record to 19-2 (14KOs).
Also on Friday’s card saw Ryan Walsh pick up a close and somewhat controversial split decision over unbeaten challenger, Lewis Paulin.
Miguel Vazquez, 41-7 (15KOs) heading into tonight started the much brighter than Davies. Both struggled to land significantly but with his economical jab and counter-hooks, the Mexican nullified a lot of Ohara’s attacking prowess. As a former lightweight world champion, it’s unsurprising that Miguel looked the better man through to round five of the scheduled ten.
Ohara was swinging wildly so many times it was almost amateurish, and the former Commonwealth super-lightweight challenger was really struggling to lay a glove on Vazquez as the bout entered its final three rounds.
By the final round, to put it in simple terms Ohara had been roughed up. He may have stuck to being on the front foot, but you’d find it hard to pick more than three rounds he clearly won. But the home fighter is the home fighter and when a bout comes down only to the referee’s decision it was always going to take something special for Miguel to take the win in London.
The final verdict was on referee, Ian John Lewis who ruled it in favour of the home fighter by three points, 97-94 Davies and put plainly, an injustice to the away boxer, and even Ohara shook his head whilst lifting Vazquez’s arm once the result had been read out. The ‘victor’, Davies, nursing an injured rib area, was forced to avoid a post-fight interview by the ring doctors.
In arguably the biggest bout of the night British featherweight champion, Ryan Walsh defended his belt for a sixth time with a slightly controversial split decision over an unbeaten, Lewis Paulin.
Scottish southpaw, Paulin, 12-0 (3KOs) was up for a mix-up as soon as the bell rang and unnerved by the more experienced man across the ring from him. Lewis’ early work was sloppy but unpredictable as Walsh, the champion, struggled to find the effective angles to attack.
Ryan, 23-2-2 (11KOs) heading into tonight’s fight at York Hall, was fighting off experience as he looked to raise his game as the rounds passed by, but while he remained calm under pressure, it was the jittery challenger that appeared to be doing the better in offense and when he was briefly put on the back foot.
By round three, the normally orthodox fighter Walsh began to switch to a southpaw stance to match his opponent, but if it effected the way Paulin took the fight to the champion, it never really showed. Lewis was active and willing to throw even when it was obvious that Ryan was trying to draw him and counter through the middle rounds of the scheduled twelve rounds.
The champion seemed to be trying to fool the crowd into thinking he was in charge when in reality he was landing and very little and taking a stark amount of shots to the head. But it remained close to call as the bout headed towards the championship rounds. And in the final rounds was where Walsh’s quality began to regain ground. His resilience to take a shot enabled Ryan to fire back when Paulin landed his best, but neither man never looked in trouble of hitting the desk or being stopped and so both were still standing for the final bell and got themselves ready to hear what should have been close scorecards across the board. A fool’s hope.
Ian John Lewis, who had just scored the previous bout in favour of Ohara Davies by three points, somehow saw the British title fight 117-111 in favour of Walsh. Come on Ian, really? The other two cards were 115-114 Walsh and 113-115 Paulin. A great competitive matchup spoiled by an incompetent judging display.
But, marking yet another British defence, Ryan spoke post-fight,
‘‘I was very rusty I’m disappointed, not taking nothing from Lewis he came with a game plan and fought very, very well.
They (Featherweight world champion) might fancy me tonight, I weren’t very good…It’s a very hot division both domestically and on the world scene, can only hope one of them wants a pop.’’