ON Saturday night, Willy Hutchinson and Lennox Clarke meet in a fascinating clash for the vacant British and Commonwealth super-middleweight belts. BT Sport televise live from the Copper Box Arena.
Hutchinson is an untested 22-year-old Scot with an impressive amateur CV at youth level who fights out of the Ingles Gym and for tough Midlander Clarke, this is his second shot at major honours.
The 29-year-old from Halesowen lost a split to Lerrone Richards (12-0) in November 2019 and was fuming with the verdict, storming out of the ring.
Clarke definitely finished stronger, but for two of the judges, he didn’t do enough to overturn the points lead New Malden southpaw Richards had built by repeatedly walking him onto punches.
Clarke didn’t get frustrated, at least not before hearing the verdict, and kept going to put Richards in some distress in the final two rounds. Richards was going to defend his titles against Umar Sadiq, but after that was delayed, Sadiq took a fight with Fedor Chudinov in Russia and went down fighting in 12 rounds.
The Board replaced Sadiq with Hutchinson and Richards decided to switch camps from Queensberry to Matchroom and give up the belts.
Clarke steps in and given how close he went to beating Richards, he deserves another shot. Best win on his 19-1-1 record is a unanimous verdict over Jahmaine Smyle (14-6-2) in Leicester in December, 2017.
Until that night, Clarke was known as predominantly a front foot fighter, but against Smyle he made adjustments and boxed on the counter to win unanimously on the scorecards. Clarke has come through hard 10- and 12-round fights, while Hutchison hasn’t had many competitive rounds as a pro.
Clarke said: “He hasn’t boxed anyone to show he’s as good as they say he is. He’s got me coming at him trying to punch holes in him so we will see if he’s the real deal.”
Only Edgars Sniedze (6-29) has taken the Scot’s punches and hit him back. The hard Latvian made Hutchinson at one point and the Scot lost a point in the fifth for using his head before winning clearly over six. That fight looks like a possible turning point for Hutchinson.
Against the outclassed Ben Thomas (2-2-3) and Jose Miguel Fandino (15-7), Hutchinson didn’t dive in once he landed cleanly, as he had done in previous fights.
Both were dispatched inside a round by punches they didn’t see coming.
Hutchinson has six wins inside two rounds and he said of Clarke: “Once I hit him he won’t want to come forward.”
What happens if Clarke is still coming forward in the second half of a tough 12-rounder? The Ingles say Hutchinson has been hardened by sparring Joshua Buatsi and an amateur CV that includes gold at the 2016 World Youth Championship is proof of his quality. He is surely the most talented opponent Clarke has faced. Hutchinson has a fast right-hand counter and changes the angles of his punches, but the fact is, he has had things all his own way so far in the pros. There are several levels between the opponents Hutchinson has been facing and the level Clarke has fought at and there’s the possibility Hutchinson could have done with one or two more before stepping up.
We know how good Clarke is, while we only hear how good Hutchinson is.
The Ingles have belief in the Scot and we will agree with them and go for Hutchinson to win by late stoppage.
At heavyweight, Nathan Gorman faces 38-year-old Czech Pavel Sour (13-3) in what looks to be a confidence builder for the 24-year-old from Nantwich. Last time out, Gorman (17-1) outboxed proud Ghanaian Richard Lartey (14-2) over 10, his first fight after a five-round defeat to Daniel Dubois left him wondering if he had a future in boxing.
Gorman says the Lartey fight “was to see if I’m still in love with boxing” and this weekend he plans to be “more explosive.” Sour’s defences have let him down against Filip Hrgovic and Hughie Fury and Gorman fancies he will be able to walk him onto punches and stop him. We go along with that.
Also, Peacock punching machine Louie Lynn, who regularly churns out 100-plus shots a round, steps up to 10 rounds after eight straight wins (seven early) to face Sebastian Perez (12-1-1) for a featherweight belt. Perez has won EU and Spanish honours at 118lbs and it’s hard to envisage him keeping off the 25-year-old from Bermondsey for more than a few rounds.
The Verdict Top of the bill is a solid step up for the highly promising Hutchinson.