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Dave Woodhall's Fighting Talk

BEN WILKES V MARK PHILLIPS

05-03-2009

Dave Woodhall runs through the card at Wolves Civic last Friday - including the featured fight Ben Wilkes vs Mark Phillips.

Friday night, and a decent crowd is inside Wolverhampton Civic Hall for the latest boxing show promoted by locally-based First Team.

First up is a light-middleweight contest between Arnold Lydekatis of Coventry and Walsall’s Joel Ryan, making his professional debut. The crowd get behind the local fighter, who responds with an accomplished display, using his jab well to take all four rounds. Joel looks one to watch out for.

Next up is one of the great characters of Midlands boxing – or so we think. Midlweight Ernie Smith hails from Stourport, but the MC announces him as from Llanelli. No matter where he’s from, Ernie’s up against the lively Russell Colley from Wolverhampton in a four round contest.

The hometown fighter naturally has most of the crowd on his side, and despite weighing in an half a stone lighter than his newly-Welsh opponent, Colley is soon on top. A big left hand has Smith reeling in the third, and his regular holding in the final round is greeted with displeasure, but the end of the fight sees Colley take a 40-36 verdict to improve his record to five straight wins. Smith by comparison has now won 13, with 136 defeats and five draws.

Matt Seagrove of Tamworth then defeats Danny Johnston of Stoke by a single point in a four round middleweight contest. Unbeaten Chris Lewis of Wolverhampton extends his professional record to five out of five when winning all four rounds of a light-welterweight match against Daniel Thorpe of Sheffield.

This is followed by another one of the great unsung journeymen of British boxing, Birmingham’s Karl Taylor. In his 142nd contest, welterweight Taylor faces Keith Sheen of Wednesbury, having just his second pro contest. Sheen, heavier by nine pounds at 10stone 9, is busier throughout, leaving Taylor’s face marked in taking a 59-56 verdict over six rounds. He’s won both his fights, Taylor drops to 16-119-7.

Next up is an intriguing womens’ super-featherweight contest between Wolverhampton fighter Lindsey Scragg and Lana Cooper of South Wales. I have mixed feelings on women boxing – they’re entitled to do it if they want, but there seems something voyeuristic about the whole business. Scragg is well on top throughout, but although Cooper seems on the verge of being stopped in the third, she sees things through to the end of the six rounds and loses 60-56.

Then there's the event most of the crowd seem to have paid to watch. Wolverhampton’s Ben Wilkes has had a somewhat unorthodox career, fighting as an amateur before giving up the sport for four years. He’s lost a reported five stone to take part in what was strangely built as a cruiserweight contest despite Wilkes coming in at 12 stone and his opponent, Mark Phillips of St Clear’s in Wales, ten pounds heavier.

Wilkes gets off to a good start, his two-fisted attack shaking Phillips from the first bell. The second round sees more of the same and although the third is quieter and the fourth sees a rally from Phillips late on, there’s no doubt about the verdict. Wilkes takes a popular decision 40-37.

Light-welterweight Richard Ghent from Coseley gets off to a good start, dropping his opponent Craig Dyer of Swansea for an eight count in the second of a scheduled four rounds. Dyer manages to survive until the final bell, but a 40-35 verdict gives Ghent his second win in two fights.

As the night was drawing on a large part of the crowd started to drift out, which was a pity as they missed the best fight of the night. Scott Evans of Stourbridge was up against Calne’s Chris Long over ten rounds for the British Masters welterweight belt.

The fight got off to a slow start – Evans had never gone longer than six rounds before and seemed to be pacing himself – but Lang was unable to impose until later on. Both fighters upped their workrate and some useful exchanges ensued, with Evans always on top. The final round began with both men firing before visibly tiring with the crowd on their feet applauding the climax to what had been a fine end to the show.

Evans took the referee’s verdict by two rounds, slumping to his knees in a mixture of exhaustion and elation and can now boast eight straight wins as he goes in search of national level titles.

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