We’ve been spoiled as boxing fans in recent years. There’s been an abundance of championship fights held in packed arenas broadcasted to our screens most weekends of the year. That is the pinnacle of the sport and every fighter’s ultimate dream. But before it can be contemplated, and move beyond a romantic dream, young fighters have to serve their apprenticeship in the country’s small halls. Ambitious prospects eager to impress, pitting themselves against strong, wily journeymen. That is boxing’s lifeblood, and we saw a good example of it at Kynoch Boxing’s show at the Paisley Lagoon Centre on 6th April.
In the main event, Scottish cruiserweight champion, Jay Carrigan McFarlane, extended his winning streak to six with a convincing points victory over Kent Kaupinnen. Jay may have wished the contest was set for eight, rather than six, as he shook his opponent with heavy shots in the final round, and may have earned a stoppage victory given more time. Kauppinen is from a mixed martial arts background and campaigned in the Bellator company for some time. This ensured he was strong, tricky and had decent striking – if not overall boxing – ability. Jay may also have wished for a more orthodox opponent, as the mixed martial art instinct of holding and grappling disrupted his fluidity. The awkward holding up close appeared to damage Jay’s left shoulder, reducing his jab to a measuring tool rather than probing, effective shot. But the Glaswegian unloaded the right and utilised his boxing skills well enough throughout to claim every round. It was difficult to assess Jay’s current level due to the unconventional opponent, but he will be satisfied with his overall performance and to continue his winning form. We hope to see the charismatic 21 year old continue his development, be out several times this year, and face some notable names in the coming months.
Killin’s super-featherweight Monty Ogilvie displayed perhaps the most well-rounded performance of the evening. Ogilivie faced Taka Bembere from Manchester via Zimbabwe, who was also a recent opponent of domestic rival Nathanial Collins. Bembere is a strong, muscular and aggressive fighter who challenges prospects physically and mentally. He can be as vocal as he is physical, attempting to disconcert opponents with smiles, shakes of the head and talk as he unleashes counter hooks. But Ogilivie remained professional throughout, slipping and using angles at times, to evade Bembere’s attempts to unsettle. The contest ended 40-37 with Bembere sharing one of the four rounds. In a post match interview with By Unanimous Decision, Ogilivie was self-critical of his performance, which is often a good sign, demonstrating a desire for improvement, but he clearly outclassed his challenger on the night. Collins recently called out Ogilvie, and the Kynoch fighter confirmed it is a bout he is interested in, which sets up an excellent domestic title fight, hopefully, in the near future.
It was a night of celebration for Glasgow’s Gary Ducie as he made a successful professional debut against experienced journeyman Antonio Horvatic. It was made sweeter as it was Ducie’s first time in a ring for several years as, he later explained, he had become disillusioned with the sport and spent some time inactive. But there was little sign of nerves or rust over the four rounds as Ducie looked impressively composed given the context. He controlled the centre of the ring and, as his confidence grew, moved well, showed variety and picked his shots. Horvatic was bundled to the ground more than once, but that was more due to his awkwardness rather than Ducie’s performance. The 23 year old trains in Duries BC, a thriving gym in Glasgow, and will be craving to get out again soon.
Sean McKiddie made it two wins in two contests against England’s Naheem Chaudry. The young Dundonian was hoping to impress his vocal travelling support who had made the journey down, but was involved in a tougher fight than expected. McKiddie controlled the first round, showing off his fast hands and movement. But a head clash in the second, which caused some bleeding, appeared to affect his stride, as Chaudry came rushing forward, unleashing flurries of wild shots with some landing. Whilst Chaudry’s record is poor (1-42), he is young at 23 and has squeezed his 40-odd fights into two short years, showing progression with each contest. He abandoned the script that some journeymen follow – those who come to simply see the rounds out – and showed determination to win the fight. But his class did not match his ambition, and McKiddie weathered some troubling moments to claim the last two rounds. McKiddie may be frustrated at the performance in some ways, but it will likely aid his development. Being tested with head-clashes, cuts and aggressive opponents early in a career can be rewarding. McKiddie showed enough ability and class to suggest he has a promising future in the sport.
In one of the evening’s most enjoyable contests, Poland’s Piotr Gora made his professional debut against England’s Lewis ‘Poochie’ Van Poetsch. Poochie strolled to the ring confidently, displaying personality and an uncanny resemblance to George Groves – if he grew a Spike O’Sullivan’s mustache. The crowd’s appreciation of Poochie’s entrance was suddenly disturbed as Gora’s name was announced and he made his way to the ring. Around twenty Polish fans in the stand took to their feet, sang and clapped in unison with a ferocity more commonly seen in a Polish football terrace than a Paisley fight hall. Gora rewarded his fans with a dominant performance, battering through Poochie’s tight guard with strong right hands, to claim a comfortable points victory. We look forward to seeing the Scottish-based Gora in future, both for his potential and his raucous support.
Glasgow’s Ahmed Ibrahim enhanced his record to 9-2-1 by beating England’s Jamie Quinn over six rounds. It was a routine win for Ibrahim as he stays busy waiting for a shot at a domestic title. Ibrahim was caught with some shots during some of Quinn’s flurries, and will need to stay better focused during more competitive fights, but he demonstrated that he’s clearly superior to journeyman level. You get the feeling when watching Ibrahim that he may reserve his best work against more challenging foes. And that may come to fruition soon as a Scottish title shot against Kynoch stablemate Martin Taylor may be on the cards for summer.
Kynoch Boxing has matured quickly since its launch only 12 or so months ago. There’s a large stable of fighters at different stages of their development, which offers variety for Scottish boxing fans. We’ve seen impressive shows with professionals battling for recognised titles, and we look forward to seeing Kynoch Boxing’s Hannah Rankin challenge for a world title in June. But, of course, we can’t forget the young prospects in these intriguing battles with cunning experienced circuit fighters. We saw some glimpses of real potential and skill, and also challenging questions which can only benefit the young hopefuls. How do you overcome unpredictable, aggressive opponents with wild flurries of shots, heavy counter punches, head-clashes, grappling and cynical tricks? It’s often better to work that out early in the career rather than, when untested, against higher level rivals.
Whilst the results were not competitive, with Kynoch boxers winning all bouts, it was combative and interesting enough for fans to leave feeling they had value for money. We were impressed by the atmosphere; vocal Scottish supporters mixed with Polish ultra-style fans set the backdrop to an exciting night. It was also heartening to see so many members of the Scottish boxing fraternity present, mixing with fans and answering questions. We encourage boxing fans to support these shows, and we look forward to the next one.