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Ring Magazine

Concannon's Corner

Personal Biography

Hobson's Champ.... 
and the division's hot!

Reported from ringside by Paul Concannon

After the disappointment of Clinton Woods late notice injury withdrawal from a scheduled world Light-Heavyweight title eliminator with Glencoffe Johnson, the show went ahead at the Ponds Forge Leisure Centre. 

With Woods unexpected pull-out, Cruiserweights Mark Hobson and Rob Norton found themselves bumped to main event status on a show televised the same night by the BBC.  It was a chance for two skilled operators with a punch to showcase themselves to a wider audience with the added incentive of the vacant British Cruiserweight title to the winner. 

Stourbridgeís Norton was back from a 10-month layoff following a brain scan irregularity (now clear), but the southpaw entered the ring with a 22-2-1 (13) record and a reputation for a dangerous left hand. 

Hobson, 20-3-1 (10), coming in, was also the reigning Commonwealth champion, a title also on the line in this 12-rounder, so with two titles to play for and a chance for the winner to feature in some big-money fights in a talent-packed division, the bout promised to be a very reasonable consolation for the loss of the original show-topper.

Hobson was quickest off the mark in a cagey opener, patiently walking down the counter-punching midlands southpaw.  Boxing in a languid, relaxed style, the lanky Hobson nagged away with efficient pressure as both probed for openings in an even first.

Hobson continued his stalking in the second as he nagged away with neat jabs and crosses before timing a perfect right cross to dump Norton heavily for the first knockdown.  Up quickly, smiling and seemingly unhurt, Rob survived the remainder of the round without undue difficulty. 

The third and fourth rounds followed a similar pattern with Hobson the busier and more effective fighter and Norton, who perhaps a touch effected with ring-rust, agonizingly slow to get off, seemingly looking for that one big left when he should have been at least shooting out his jab to give the taller local something to think about.  With four rounds gone, the best I could give Norton was a share of one round, the first; he needed to make something happen, soon.

After more probing and posing Norton finally found the shot he was looking for when a perfect left hand caught the attacking Hobson flush sending his eyes into orbit as he wobbled backwards into the ropes midway through the fifth.  Nortonís attempts to follow up were sloppy, again perhaps indicative of his inactivity and Hobson saw out the round easily enough, even landing a good right hand seconds later. 

Norton was floored again by another right cross in the sixth round, and while up and smiling once again, it was pretty much downhill all the way for the shaven-headed midlander.  Busier, sharper, hungrier Hobson applied steady pressure and survived the odd wobble and a cut eye inspection in round nine to take a wide 118-110 verdict on the refereeís card.

The immensely likeable Hobson, quick to praise the loser for a gutsy performance, was well worth the win; he simply wanted it that bit more. Despite finishing with a cut and swollen left eye he completed his first 12 rounder with plenty to spare as he chased the fading Norton round in the last and at 27, he can feature in some very interesting matches in a bubbling division.

As for Norton, another very pleasant man, itís back to the drawing board.  The 12 rounds may have helped him shed that ring rust and while widely (perhaps too widely) outscored, he didnít take a serious beating; despite the two knockdowns the defeat was more of the out-worked variety. He can come again.

Currently, the cruiserweight division over here includes WBO champion Johnny Nelson, WBU champion Enzo Macinarelli, hotshot David Haye, and old warhorse Carl Thompson amongst others.  The aforementioned Nelson and Haye were both ringside and Thompson scored an easy first round knockout down the bill meaning that the majority of the UK top 10 were actually present on the night.  Match any two of them and itís a good fight, lets just hope it doesnít fizzle out like the once equally promising home Light-Middleweight scene did a few years back; more on that some other timeÖ

A very reasonable undercard saw three fighters scoring fourth round retirement victories. Amer Khan out-boxed the brawling Shepethim Hoti at Light-Heavyweight before nailing him with a left, some say with a thumb, to force a surrender.  Lee Swaby and the gifted Roman Greenburg forced Brody Permaine and Luke Simpkin respectively to stay on their stools in a pair of mainly one-sided workouts up at heavyweight.

Greenburg was the standout as he floored and out-boxed the tough Simpkin in a fine exhibition of southpaw sharp-shooting.  Much is expected of a former amateur sensation that improves to 12-0 (9).

Tony Dowling debatably outscored ex British title contender Denzil Brown at cruiser in a real slam-bang affair over six.  Most felt Browne was unlucky, his punches being of the eye-catching variety as the less experienced Dowling bustled away bravely.  Itís a fight that could and should go on again.

As mentioned above, Carl, Thompson, the ex WBO Crusierweight champion looked sharp before drilling the over-matched and rather fragile Hastings Rasani in the first round; one right hand did the damage.  Carl is 2-0 (2) on the comeback following his loss in a 6-knockdown war with Ezra Sellars back in 2001. 

The final bout of the night saw the colourful prospect Patrick Maxwell score a final round stoppage of a very brave Spanish debutant called Isidro Gonzalez at Light-Middle.

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Special thanks go to Richard Poxon at Hobson Promotions and Kevin the Sheffield taxi driver who pulled over to help me change a flat tyre while driving home after the show!