UK Weekend Recap: Burns and Frampton Impress, McCloskey and Harrison Struggle in Victory


    This past weekend was arguably the most anticipated of the year for UK fight fans as the two biggest promoters in the country went head to head in their very own version of Top Rank and Goldenboy’s September 15th cold war. Frank Warren Promotions showcased a lightweight war between the top two in Britain, both of which were ranked in the top ten by The Ring, as Scotland’s Ricky Burns defended his WBO crow against Englishman Kevin Mitchell in front of 9,000 strong crowd at Glasgow’s SECC, broadcasted live on subscription channel Box Nation. The champion produced a career defining performance stopping Mitchell in the fourth stanza to establish himself as one of the best at 135lbs in the world.

    Matchroom Sport pitted rising star Carl Frampton against former two time world champion Steve Molitor at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena televised on Sky Sports Fight Night. From the opening bell “The Jackal” appeared too strong for the Canadian as he dominated every round dropping the veteran three times before the referee stopped the bout in round six.

    Here are ThaBoxingVoice’s conclusions on a thrilling night of boxing:


    is Ricky Burns the best lightweight in the world?

    *The Battle of Britain between Burns and Mitchell had been dubbed as boxer v brawler by many with the Scot playing the part of light punching technician and the challenger seen as the heavy handed toe-to-toe fighter. While this was an unjust description of both men; Burns punches hard enough to keep opponents honest and Mitchell possesses underrated boxing ability, few could have predicted the emphatic manner in which “Rickster” won the fight. It had been well documented prior to the bout that move to 135lbs had allowed the champion to add strength to his tall frame but nothing in his previous fights at the weight, against Katsidis and Moses, suggested he had the power to stop a man with solid, if unspectacular, chin such as Mitchel, however from as early as the second round his right hand was visibly hurting his rival. There were concerns that Burns was becoming over reliant on the use of the right hand and that Mitchell would soon telegraph the attack but those fears were dispelled as the Scot unleashed a textbook left to the chin which floored the challenger. With this new found strength, allied with an ability to box coming forward or off the back foot Burns is a match for anyone in the division.


    * Afterwards both men were refreshing in their post-fight interviews. Mitchell was humble, conceding he was beaten by the better man and not offering any excuses. Neither he, nor his team, questioned the referee’s decision to stop the contest with only a second remaining of the round. Burns, as ever, was a gentleman praising his opponent’s efforts and expressing a desire for unification fights in the future. Ricky appears to be a throwback, a fearless fighter who wants to prove himself against the best. It remains to be seen if his management team have the ambition to match his own.


    *Disappointingly this weekend has exposed one of the more unpleasant elements of boxing; the fickleness of fans. Admittedly it’s a minority of fans but a particularly vocal one. On paper Burns v Mitchell was a 50/50 fight with fans and pundits alike divided despite the fact that Burns was a two-weight world champion; that is how highly the Londoner was regarded. Now as a result of defeat I have seen Mitchell accused of being a “bum” and a “club fighter”. Mitchell is a good fighter, defeat doesn’t change that. If he is world class remains to be seen but there is certainly now shame in defeat against one of the best in the world at the weight.


    * The chief support was Scott Harrison making his second fight on the comeback trail after a lengthy lay off which included a spell in a Spanish jail. The wee man always attracts interest, be it from those who have always supported him and hope to see him rise to the top once more or the vultures waiting to witness him self-destruct once more. After seeing multiple opponents drop out, Joe Elfidh took the opportunity at ten hours’ notice. As the fight began it appeared to be another easy night’s work for the former champion as he dropped the late replacement in the opening round. However Elfidh proved to be durable and at times troubled Harrison who appeared to be a faded shadow of his former self. The Scot picked up a points victory and called for a shown down with the winner of the main event. On this performance Harrison looks miles away from championship level but the fact remains that a battle with Burns would sell well in Scotland, so while Burns is targeting unification in 2013 the depressing reality is a fight with Harrison is more likely.


    *Despite having the more attractive main event early reports indicate that Frank Warren lost out in the ratings battle with Matchroom and while all his stable’s fights are shown on Box Nation this will remain as the status quo regardless of the quality of the matchups. Box Nation is fantastic for die hard boxing fans,  satisfying their need for regular fights from all around the world. Sadly it stops Warren’s fighters from becoming cross over stars as they will never receive enough exposure. Casual fans will simply not sign up to a subscription channel which is a shame because Burns’ performance combined with his likeable personality would have brought him to a new audience had his fight been live on Sky.


    *The super bantamweight division is thriving in Britain with Munroe, Quigg, Kid Galahad and Frampton all vying for top spot. This Saturday the Northern Irishman staked his claim for supremacy with an eye catching performance over Steve Molitor. Frampton started more aggressively than we’ve seen before, pressuring the Canadian from the get go. Early on it became clear than Molitor simply couldn’t cope with the younger man’s strength but Frampton kept calm, refusing to rush his work and picking his shots well. After a controlled performance boxing on the back foot, utilizing his jab in his last outing against Mexican Raul Hirales, Frampton has displayed a diverse skill set which could lead to world title glory in the future.


    *Frampton is a sensible young man and is determined to establish himself as the UK’s number one before challenging one of the current titlists and has called out the winner of Quigg v Munroe once more. If this matchup can be made remains to be seen but on the back of that performance “The Jackal” has proven he can mix in class company and is a draw with a near sellout of the Odyssey as proof.


    Carl Frampton impressed, is he ready for the best in the world at 122?

    *Matchmaking is vital in this sport and Frampton was the beneficiary of an excellent example of this. While Molitor certainly wasn’t deemed washed up going into the fight and carried a high ranking with some of the sanctioning bodies, he hasn’t been the same fighter since Celestino Caballero dismantled him in four rounds, although there was still enough prestige attached to the name to make him a worthwhile opponent. This shouldn’t take away from Frampton’s performance as “The Canadian Kid” still possessed enough ring craft and guile to make this a potential banana skin.


    *Paul McCloskey returned to the ring for the first time since his loss to DeMarcus Corley in May fighting for his career against Manuel Perez. “Dudey” had a tougher night than many expected as his opponent relentlessly marched forward all night as the Northern Irishman simply didn’t have the power to keep him at bay. Many of the flaws exposed in the Corley fight were there to see once more as McCloskey kept his gloves low, his chin high and retreated in straight lines. Against a puncher he would have found himself in trouble as Perez was able to land flash on McCloskey’s chin throughout the fight. At 33-years-of-age he is unlikely to be able to adapt his style sufficiently to see him claim that world title he craves

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