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James Metcalf hammer blow sees off Welborn

James Metcalf
Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes
James Metcalf lands tremendous body blow to defeat Jason Welborn. Andy Whittle reports from ringside

A PAIR of tasty-looking and all-British Commonwealth title contests formed the chief support double on the Josh Warrington vs Kid Galahad undercard with Liverpudlian James ‘JJ’ Metcalf getting the ball rolling against West Midlander Jason Welborn with the vacant super-welterweight belt up for grabs.

For Welborn, it was a fourth successive title contest and after coming up short against Jarrett Hurd when challenging for world honours late last year it was a chance to reassert himself by overcoming hard hitting ‘Kid Shamrock’ who, with dad Shea Neary looking on from the sidelines, was searching for his fourth straight inside the distance win.

With precious little daylight between the two combatants going into the eighth Welborn began the session with an eye-catching left and then benefited further, if under the circumstances that is indeed the correct choice of words, when JJ was docked a point having let one go south of the border. Both had been admonished earlier for the same offence by referee Steve Gray.

Jason was allowed time to recover, but the tempo redoubled on the resumption and in the resulting exchanges a spiteful left to the body sent him to his knees in centre ring, where shaking his head and spitting out his gumshield it was clear it was game over.

He regained his feet at a count of eight but showed no desire to continue and it was waved off with 35 seconds of the eighth still to run.

The fact that both Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett and Leicester’s Leon Woodstock had suffered the first defeats of their respective careers over the distance in title fights last year made their meeting for the vacant Commonwealth super-featherweight title no less appealing.

Right from the off it was clear that such a setback hadn’t had any lasting effect on Zelfa, who simply shone. His speed of hand was excellent, as was his movement and conditioning, and while Woodstock gave it his best shot, pressing and seldom moving off the front foot, fully playing his part in what proved an entertaining affair, he was tagged time and again by the fleet-footed Mancunian, whose work was still precise despite him suffering from a troublesome and slowly closing right eye.

A right uppercut and weighty combination sent the Leicester man’s gumshield flying late in the ninth and, confident that victory was all but assured, Zelfa punched the air at the end of the next.

At the finish all three judges had Barrett ahead, Phil Edwards and Howard Foster scoring 117-111 while Steve Gray had it a touch wider at 118-110.

It has been my feeling from the very outset that Manchester’s Lyndon Arthur might just be something special – and he did his growing reputation no harm by halting Pole Andrzej Soldra just 45 seconds into a scheduled eight when a right uppercut and a trio of clubbing rights left Mr Foster no option but to intervene.

Unbeaten local favourite Jack Bateson has developed a liking for beating Nicaraguans, with southpaw Bayardo Ramos being the sixth such native of the Central American republic to fall victim to the Yorkshireman.

Jack, dominant throughout, having floored the visitor midway through the opener, took this one 80-71 on the card of referee Foster, improving his win tally to 10.

Darlington’s always watchable Troy Williamson went in against Nicaraguan opposition too in a scheduled eight against Edwin Palacios.

It went six with Mr Foster deciding enough was enough 67 seconds into the session as the game yet outclassed visitor rose after being sent to all fours by a left, having already been down twice late in the previous round.

One thing that is guaranteed when a matchmaker books Devon-based Pole Kamil Sokolowski is that the heavyweight won’t just be turning up to go through the motions. It probably wasn’t the greatest surprise then that at the culmination of an eight which saw him coming on strongly in the second half, referee Alexander adjudged him a 77-76 winner over unbeaten Merseysider Alex Dickinson.

I wondered beforehand if Poland’s Daniel Urbanski might be in over his head when agreeing to exchange pleasantries with Oldham’s tough Mark Heffron over six but, despite coming under serious pressure, he managed to make it through to the finish. No surprise though that third man Alexander should return a 60-54 verdict for Heffron.

Big-punching Sheffield middleweight Shakiel Thompson faced a step up in class by going in against Huddersfield’s experienced Alistair Warren over six and had to go the distance for the first time, coming out on top by a margin of 59-55. He wasn’t afforded an easy ride by Warren, who picked up a cut to the right hand side of the head along the way. Howard Foster refereed.

Unbeaten Welshman Kody Davies, in the ring for the first time in nine months having taken time out following the passing of his sister, proved too much for busy York light-heavy Harry Matthews, dropping him with a combination in the last of a six to take the 60-53 verdict of referee Alexander.

Middleweight debutant John Joyce, a southpaw from Moate in Ireland with over 200 amateur bouts behind him and now trained in Scotland by Billy Nelson, went in with Southwark’s Victor Edagha over six and despite picking up a late cut below the left eye when heads bashed, Joyce emerged a 59-56 winner for Mr Alexander.

Liverpool’s Jack McGann secured victory number three by winning all four rounds against Halesowen veteran Kevin McCauley, who has lost count of the number of times that he’s appeared on the undercard on big fight nights.

The Verdict Plenty to savour on the undercard of this big Frank Warren promotion.

Josh Warrington (125 1/2lbs), 29-0 (6), w pts 12 Kid Galahad (125 3/4lbs), 26-1 (15); James Metcalf (153 1/4lbs), 20-0 (12), w rsf 8 Jason Welborn (152 1/2lbs), 24-8 (7); Zelfa Barrett (129lbs), 22-1 (13), w pts 12Leon Woodstock Jr (129lbs 11oz), 12-2 (5); Lyndon Arthur (178 3/4lbs), 15-0 (12), w rsf 1 Andrzej Soldra (176 1/4lbs), 15-7-1 (7); Jack Bateson(122lbs), 10-0 (3), w pts 8 Bayardo Ramos (129lbs), 8-11-1 (4); Troy Williamson (155lbs 10oz), 11-0-1 (8), w rsf 6 Edwin Palacios (157 1/2lbs), 12-9-1 (8); Kamil Sokolowski (228lbs), 7-15-2 (3), w pts 8 Alex Dickinson (221lbs), 10-1 (6); Mark Heffron (164lbs 1oz), 23-1 (17), w pts 6 Daniel Urbanski (165lbs 2oz), 21-31-3 (5); Kody Davies (171lbs), 9-0 (3), w pts 6 Harry Matthews (170 1/2lbs), 16-45-3 (2); Shakiel Thompson (161lbs 5oz), 4-0 (3), w pts 6 Alistair Warren (162lbs 6oz), 11-24-5 (4); Jack McGann (155 1/2lbs), 3-0-1 (1), w pts 4 Kevin McCauley (167 1/2lbs), 15-193-12: John Joyce (163 1/4lbs), 1-0, w pts 6 Victor Edagha (164lbs) 1-58-2 (1).

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