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Craig Derbyshire shocks Nathan Reeve

Craig Derbyshire
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The triumph of a journeyman - Craig Derbyshire lifts English championship. Matt Bozeat reports from ringside

MIDLANDS man-about-boxing Carl Greaves was shouting: “What a story!” after seeing his journeyman Craig Derbyshire capture the vacant English super-flyweight championship by unanimously outpointing Nathan Reeve at The Deco.  

Derbyshire has fought exclusively on the road since turning pro in 2014 without any amateur background and has won Central Area belts at both super-flyweight and bantamweight, plus English honours.

One of the 27 defeats on his record going into his bid for the St George’s belt was inflicted by Reeve at the Deco in September, 2017. The rematch was very different. A case could be made for Doncaster’s Derbyshire winning nine of the 10 rounds with Reeve, who bled from a wound on his scalp from the opening round, rallying to win the ninth clearly.

As it was, the judges were kinder to Reeve. Terry O’Connor and Kevin Parker both scored 98-92, while Marcus McDonnell had it 97-94. Referee was Bob Williams.

Reeve suffered a cut on his scalp inside the opening couple of minutes after heads clashed accidentally and said the blood that leaked down his face throughout prevented him seeing Derbyshire’s jab, a solid punch that landed frequently and with force.

Reeve was also nicked on his left eyebrow in the fifth from a punch. By then, Derbyshire was in control.

The rounds in the first half of the fight followed a similar pattern. Reeve would start positively without putting a dent in Derbyshire and when Derbyshire responded, Reeve had to give ground and rethink. The home fighter did well to keep his boxing together when Derbyshire caught him flush with rights.

From the sixth, the pace dropped and Derbyshire won the rounds with the jab before Reeve, inspired by chants of: “Nathan! Nathan!” from his supporters and the threat of his corner pulling him out, produced a big drive in the ninth.

Derbyshire was steadied briefly by a left hook and Reeve jumped quickly through the gears, unloading to body and head. Derbyshire soaked it all up and finished the fight on top.

There was an anti-climactic ending to the other title fight on Errol Johnson’s BCB’s value-for-money show, Tamworth’s Josh Baillie claiming the vacant Midlands Area super-featherweight championship when Leo D’Erlanger pulled out at the end of the third round saying an injury to his left eye was impairing his vision. That was a shame for a good-sized crowd. The scheduled 10-rounder was warming up nicely.

For me, D’Erlanger, who’s from Banbury and fought out of Northampton as an amateur, took charge with his long, pinpoint jab and knocked Baillie, who had ex-British title challenger Troy James doing his cuts, off balance in the second when they landed rights simultaneously.

There looked to be a possible shift in the third. Baillie had D’Erlanger on the ropes for a spell – and started to land his own jab.

Referee was Kevin Parker and he took charge of all the undercard fights. He was kept busy by the untidy six threes between West Bromwich’s Tom Stokes and Navan’s Chris Blaney, trained by Ricky Hatton. Stokes nicked it – deservedly for me – by a 58-57 scoreline in the final three minutes.

Two weeks after his semi-final exit from Ultimate Boxxer, Northampton’s Kieron Conway dominated Harry Matthews over four. Matthews has had easier nights in his now 62-fight career. Conway didn’t leave the York veteran alone from first bell to last – and there was spite in everything he threw.

Matthews looked in some discomfort when Conway switched his attacks downstairs and the Northamptonian sent a shiver through his legs in the fourth with a check left hook, possibly his best punch. Matthews righted himself quickly and smashed a right hand off Conway’s jaw that slowed him – if only briefly.

There was a four-round workout for Milton Keynes’ Curtis Felix ahead of his English welter title eliminator against Connor Vian at York Hall on July 6.

Felix did more or less as he pleased against MJ Hall, a southpaw from Brierley Hill who is surely as good as anyone on the circuit at getting through fights without getting hurt.

 The Verdict Derbyshire proves once again that records don’t tell the whole story.

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