DUKING IT OUT AT THE GRAND OLD YORK HALL
By Frank Warren
YORK HALL WAS our theatre for a dramatic and thrilling night of boxing on Friday night.
The atmosphere within the historic old building was off the charts and the place was full from start to finish. York Hall may well be a small hall, but it is cherished by both fans and fighters and it remains the perfect setting for young talents to develop and ultimately graduate to the bigger venues, hopefully without the need for the extensive curtains covering up all the empty seats so evident at a show on Saturday.
Yes, it was steamy hot in there on Friday, but it all makes it a proper old bear pit where the fighters are inspired to deliver big performances. There is really no other place like it.
First off, I would like to make a special mention about Ryan Garner. I am personally so happy that he is now beginning to fulfil his enormous potential and is off the mark with a shiny new WBC International belt that will serve him up a decent world ranking.
It has been well documented that Ryan’s career progress has been of the stop-start variety for a number of reasons but, as far as I’m concerned, that is all in the past now and he is at the perfect age and mindset to really crack on and make good on his early promise.
Seeing him performing to such a high level and looking so happy is a particular satisfaction for me because Ryan has been with us from day one and we always had him earmarked as a potential world-beater. It would have been a crying shame had Ryan not got his act together, but we always retained confidence in him and stuck by him.
It is a two-way loyalty that is now paying dividends and I am really excited about what is to come from Ryan and keeping up his momentum with regular activity.
I must also acknowledge the work of Ryan’s mentor Wayne Batten, a top trainer who keeps a low profile but really is Mr Boxing of the Southampton scene and does an excellent job with all his fighters down there. He now has two champions in the camp with Ryan and Mark Chamberlain and it is a success story that I anticipate has many more chapters to come.
The Dennis McCann-Ionut Baluta headliner more than lived up to its billing and it was a real shootout right from the first bell.
It was a genuine humdinger for the fans and, even though he got clipped a few more times than we would prefer, I felt Dennis was edging a tough fight before the sight of blood gave Ionut a new impetus late on.
I said last week and was proved right, that Dennis would have to encounter some jeopardy and trauma in this fight and this is something that will do him no harm at all moving forward.
All fancied prospects have to really be put to the test at some point and we need to see how they react. Dennis could have made it easier for himself by treading a little bit more carefully, but he is a tough little sod and he didn’t want to give any ground.
Taking a draw at this stage is no real setback. He will gain so much experience from Friday and take it into his forthcoming fights, once the gash on his forehead that ended the fight is fully healed.
And I must also say, what a game, tough man Ionut is and he never seems to be in a bad fight. The victory secured over him by our European champion Liam Davies continues to age well too.
They say first impressions count and if this is the case then Nathaniel Collins more than passed muster.
Defending his British and Commonwealth belts against Raza Hamza was supposed to be a significant test, but Nathaniel took him out in a matter of seconds and put himself firmly on course for bigger fights in the very near future.
The featherweight scene has got a new player, make no mistake.
Sticking at featherweight, Raven Chapman continued to show why she is a real deal in the division with a convincing victory over the previously undefeated Lila Furtado.
I rate Raven so highly both as a fighter and as a person and guiding her career is a delight for us. She has now more than proved her readiness for a big step up and we will have news on this coming soon.
So, with York Hall being small but perfectly formed for boxing, our young fighters made the most of their showcase and enjoyed the benefit of the huge audience of TNT Sports, along with their extensive digital output that clocks up millions. It is something some other platforms can only dream of.