I Forgot to Duck…
By Paul Concannon
have all seen it all too often. Favorite fighters who wowed and excited us in
their primes not knowing how to go away such as the case of Michael ‘Shaka’
Ayers. The long-serving former
British champion may not be too well known to even the real box-maniacs outside
his native Britain, but to this fight-fan and many others in the UK, Ayers is
talked about and thought of with relish. The
big-punching South Londoner was amongst Britain’s top post-Ken Buchannan/Jim
the nineties and early part of this decade, Michael’s battles with the likes
of, Peter Till, Colin Dunne, Tony Miller and Wayne Rigby were some of the most
thrilling domestic-level wars one could hope for.
winning the nondescript IBO trinket late in his career, Ayers was really a touch
short of genuine top class, as proved by his wide points defeat to the Italian
Giovanni Parisi in the early part of the decade.
At a domestic level, however, he could be devastating.
A compact come-forward slugger with a high guard and a big punch in each
hand, the South Londoner was rarely required to go the distance, indeed all five
of his British title bouts ended via the short route.
It wasn’t just his ring-exploits that made him so loveable though;
outside the ropes he was a real gentleman.
Always quick to acknowledge his mistakes and praise a victor or victim,
Mike was a real throwback-no bullshit, honest professional.
I heard the 38 year old was planning a comeback after an 18- month sabbatical I
was concerned though relieved his opponent was a 5-9 (0) circuit pro called John
Honney. At least the old champ
hadn’t been matched too tough, or so I thought.
I was wrong. On Saturday
night, the feather-fisted Honney hammered the final nail in the coffin of the
career of a once proud warrior with an upset points win over six heats.
Watching ‘Shaka’ floundering around with that telltale soft in the
body appearance of an old fighter was a sad sight indeed.
for his part, did well, even rocking tiring Ayers late in the sixth.
This wasn’t the real Michael Ayers he was fighting though, just a pale
the bruised and battered loser, who falls to 31-5-1, 26 KO’s was undecided
about his future, but those of us who have enjoyed the honest and worthy career
of this warrior will know the truth. Enough’s
the top of the bill from Plymouth exciting Brixton puncher Ted Bami defended his
zero-worth WBF light-welter trinket. The UK scene is littered with IBO, WBF and
WBU belts right now, each about as meaningful in genuine world terms as a PVC
freebee you might get with some polyester stay-press.
Bami’s bout, however, promised plenty.
The 13-0, 7 KO’s prospect was already being mentioned alongside Ricky
Hatton, Eamon Magee and Junior Witter as being amongst the best domestically at
140. His opponent, Samuel Malinga
of South Africa, was another in a long line of the quality imports that
regularly show up on Barry Hearn promotions.
While just 13-2-1, 8 KO’s, the 23-year-old Malinga had been voted the
2002 Prospect of the Year back home and his previous visit to the UK had seen
him impressively stop the undefeated Colin Lynes. While this was not a genuine world title bout by a long
chalk, it was a decent pairing of dangerous and evenly matched prospects.
stalked behind a low guard in the first and his left appeared a little to low
for comfort as he tried to work inside, but a right hand did have Malinga
holding towards the end of a quiet opener.
The second was much the same, with Bami stalking and Malinga flitting
around and each man doing very little.
third started better for Malinga who began putting some weight on his jab before
suddenly nailing the London-based Congo man with a cracking right-cross to
shockingly send him down and flat on his back!
Only just unable to beat the count, Ted was in terrible shape and it’s
highly unlikely that referee John Coyle would have let him continue in any case.
back to the drawing board for the desperately disappointed Bami and Malinga, a
humble and softly spoke warrior, continues to impress here in the UK.
on the Plymouth Bill, recent British Middleweight title challenger and hometown
hero Scott Dann survived a first round knockdown to take out Albanian Kreshnick
Qato with a single left hand in the second round.
Dann has one of the most impressive physiques I have seen at 160, his
chin however, seems to lack muscle.
down the bill, Michael Hunter stopped Rocky Dean in the first down at
super-bantam. Also Adrian Stone, a
former challenger to Shane Mosley at welter, scored an impressive one-punch KO
over Farsi Musiyiwa and finally, one-time prospect Kelly Oliver returned with a
six round points win over Tony Booth.
in Norwich, top rated Middleweight contender Howard Eastman forced former WBC
champion Hacine Cherifi to retire after eight rounds in defence of his European
title. While Eastman continues to
impress, Cherifi has seen much better days.
Howard is as a strong and dangerous contender as exists at 160 and he has
already ran William Joppy close in a WBA title bout on the Raham-Lewis 2
undercard. The problem is I still
get the feeling he just doesn’t throw quite enough punches to get by the likes
of Hopkins. Anyone who screamed at
his just to be a tiny bit busier in that bout with Joppy will know what I mean.
Literally, another half dozen punches or so a round and he would probably
already be the WBA champion.
bad do I feel for Vernon Forrest? Watching
the brave Atlanta stylist go through those intimidating early rounds with
Ricardo Mayorga to fight out of his skin in the middle rounds and land nearly
all the juicy stuff from that point on only to lose a decision earlier this
month was a tough one. Mayorga, a
true pantomime villain of boxing, swung a lot and missed a lot.
In close and controversial scoring some people talk about aggression,
others talk about neat boxing; I just look for one thing; clean, scoring
punches. Mayorga fought well, but
he swung a lot and missed a lot while Forrest from about round five onwards
landed nearly everything he threw. Clean
uppercuts, body-shots and combos all hit the target. Mayorga did land a huge right in the tenth, but his
aggression, however showy and backed up by his immense physical strength,
equated to very little in terms of quality scoring.
Forrest is at fault is that he didn’t make Mayorga pay enough for his misses,
instead, preferring to wait until the Nicaraguan had finished flailing until
was a good, hard fight, but this writer had Forrest three rounds up at the end
by virtue of that simple formula of getting shots on the target area.
Unfortunately for Vernon, two of the three judges didn’t agree.
Nice guy Forrest can come again, and while he deserves a third fight with
Mayorga he may be wise just to forget him.
two tough losses on the spin to the same man, Forrest must have a mighty fine
idea how Shane Mosley felt after going 0-2 with him.