PRIOR to the weigh-in I’d been chatting with Eastbourne’s Scott Hillman about body shots. The next day, not only would he succumb to defeat because of body shots, but the main event on this Tommy Owens promotion in the Holte Suite at Villa Park, a local derby clash for the vacant Midlands Area lightweight title, would be decided that way too. That Area title clash pitched Birmingham’s bearded Jack O’Keeffe in against Willenhall’s similarly unbeaten Shaun Cooper. The former emerged victorious in some style when, having been bested by his more industrious opponent for the most part – especially in the dying embers of the third when he was tagged by a huge right – he then proceeded to turn the contest on its head in the blink of an eye. A right cross early in the fourth sent sweat flying before a right-left combination downstairs dropped Cooper to all fours in centre ring where, at 1-16 of the round, referee for the night, Kevin Parker of Newark, completed his count.
Birmingham’s “Ruthless” Ryan Kelly had his first outing since slipping to a 10-round points reverse to southpaw Michael McKinson last time out. In a six up at super-lightweight, he registered a shut-out win against Atherton’s William Warburton, who, durable as ever, is now just 10 contests short of joining the 200 club.
Kelly was beginning rounds at quite a pace, working to the body with both hands but “Warby”, with ex-pro Curtis Gargano in his corner, took them in his stride as was the case when Kelly delivered a nice four-shot salvo towards the end of the fifth.
Lydney’s busy Lewis van Poetsch has enjoyed some productive nights at this venue; a first round victory over local novice Jordan Lynch a couple of years ago and a points win earlier this year over Scott Hillman in what was his 100th bout being the pick. But he was forced to settle for second best in another four against popular Brummie Idris Virgo, going down 40-37 on the card. However, with Virgo quieter in the last and an ambitious van Poetsch looking to land a big shot it remained entertaining right through to the finish.
Back to Hillman. He went in with middleweight River Wilson-Bent, unbeaten in three and from nearby Coventry, in a scheduled four which ran exactly half its scheduled distance. Referee Mr Parker jumped in to call a halt as the bell to end the second round sounded.
A prolonged spell of pressure in the opener had seen the visitor having to defend. More of the same at the top of the second finally saw him drop to one knee before further incoming on the resumption left him grabbing.
The end was clearly nigh. Another body shot scored another knockdown and with further pressure showing no sign of abating the stoppage was as welcome as it was likely.
Two further contests, both four-threes, ended 40-36 in favour of the locals who each improved to 6-0 as a consequence. Tamworth’s light-heavyweight, Ryan Hatton, who was a stone heavier than usual, went in with experienced Lithuanian Remigijus Ziausys in the evening’s curtain raiser and duly saw the majority of what he threw bounce off the hard, shaven head of the grinning visitor.
The taller Hatton seemingly saved his best work for the latter stages when, after ending the third with a trio of consecutive rights upstairs, he found the target with a punishing left to the body in the fourth, and wound up proceedings with a precise right uppercut.
Tousle haired Selly Oak middle Shaka Thompson, a southpaw resplendent in colourful shorts and boots, proved too much for Paul Cummings. The Warminster man took everything that came his way without ever really looking in trouble but didn’t throw enough punches himself to ever threaten.
No surprise then that this one should finish a shut-out, with referee Parker not really needing to check his sums at the finish.
The Verdict O’Keeffe impressive in entertaining bill topper
Jack O’Keeffe (132lbs 6oz), 9-0 (1), w ko 4 Shaun Cooper (133lbs 2oz), 9-1; Ryan Kelly (154 1/2lbs), 14-2 (7), w pts 6 William Warburton (155lbs 6oz), 26-154-10 (5); Idris Virgo (175 1/4lbs), 4-0-1, w pts 4 Lewis van Poetsch (172lbs 6oz), 9-109-2 (2); River Wilson-Bent (163lbs 14oz), 4-0 (2), w rsf 2 Scott Hillman (170 1/4lbs), 0-44; Shaka Thompson (162lbs 14oz), 6-0, w pts 4 Paul Cummings (159lbs 14oz), 2-37; Ryan Hatton (190lbs 6oz), 6-0 (3), w pts 4 Remigijus Ziausys (192 1/2lbs), 20-106-5 (10).