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Ring Magazine

Concannon's Corner

Personal Biography

Honney; I Forgot to Duck…
By Paul Concannon

We 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 Watt lightweights.   

During 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.

Despite 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.

When 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.

Honney, 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 imitation.

Afterwards, 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 enough, Mike.

On 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.

Bami 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.

The 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.

So 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.

Also 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.

Further 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.      

Elsewhere, 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.

          *                           *                               *                            * 

How 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.

Where 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 retaliating. 

It 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. 

After 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.