14th September, O2 Indigo Arena, BKB 18. A night few will forget. The card, filled with the highest calibre of fights and fighters alike. For me, it was an absolute honour to be working backstage as an interviewer for BKB and no doubt an experience I will never forget. With this behind the scenes access, I hope to bring you not just the fight break downs but the feeling, emotion and rawness of BKB 18. Here we go!
Mark Rawes Def. Paul Stredder, First Round TKO
The opening bout of the evening was a Prize Fighter Quater-Final clash between Mark Rawes and Paul Stredder. This fight started with a bang as Stredder rushed to the centre, fists flying. But what became clear from the off-set was Rawes’ gameplan. Keeping Stredder on the end of his jab, Rawes found his space and began to punish his opponent with his lethal lead hook. Then insanity struck as both men winged shots simultaneously resulting in a double knockdown. Upon closer inspection, I question how much balance had to play in Rawes’ tumble but nevertheless an iconic scene. As the round came to an end, so did the fight. Rawes’ accuracy had opened up a number of cuts on Stredder’s face and the doctor had seen enough. After the fight I spoke with Rawes as emotions ran high. This victory for his children, Mia and James, who he fights for both in and outside of the ring in his battle for custody. Mark faces Hubert Geven next in Semis after Bachir Fakhouri missed weight.
Tony Lafferty Def. Ben Gumbrell, Unanimous Decision
Next up was a good old-fashioned Prize Fighter scrap between Tony Lafferty and Ben Gumbrell. Gumbrell came into this one as a relatively unknown quantity, with much of his fight footage hidden. Therefore it was hard to judge what to expect from the Horsham Boxer, but I must admit I did not expect such fluid Boxing. Lafferty pilled on the pressure and didn’t let the pace settle. While Gumbrell looked to break up Lafferty’s advancements by landing on entry, making good use of the clinch to reset the distance. At the end of rounds, one and two Lafferty was ahead on the scorecards with his volume perhaps edging it for the judges. Coming into the third, Lafferty looked tired and his shots became more and more untidy. Leaving himself open, Lafferty caught a right from Gumbrell which sent him to the canvas at the death. After three rounds of Boxing, the fight was ruled a draw and needed a fourth-round to decide it as per the Prize Fighter rules. After a momentary break between rounds, Lafferty found a second wind in the fourth. This time he came out tidy, landing meaningful shots behinds slick head movement, winning him the round and ultimately the fight.
Smudger Smith Def. Jeff Chiffens, Second Round KO
The final Prize Fighter bout of the evening saw two colourful characters collide, as Smudger Smith faced Jeff Chiffens. In the lead up to this one Chiffens had baffled fans with his nonchalant attitude and downright bizarre persona. Yet he proved himself to be a warrior on the night, constantly coming forwards and even opening up the fight with a good right hand. Regardless this fight was all about Smudger Smith. Now at his natural weight class, Smudger looked sharper than ever with noticeable improvements to hand speed and timing. It seemed every time Chiffens lunged forwards with his unorthodox style, Smudger countered him. After one round of Boxing Smudger was clearly ahead. Then, as the second round commenced, Smudger landed a clean right hand at the opening bell, finishing the resilient Chiffens. Yet despite my original impressions this wasn’t the best Smudger Smith. After the fight, he revealed to me a long-standing impediment. A perianal abscess which left him unable to walk by Wednesday night. It had got so bad he was forced to perform self-operation to even fight on Saturday. Clearly, we haven’t seen his best yet and after the fight, I noticed more. Smudger, although his usual joking self, had something different behind his eyes. A hunger I hadn’t seen before from the Leeds legend. Quite frankly it was terrifying. He faces Tony Lafferty next in the Prize Fighter Semi-Finals. What a fight!
Jack Arnfield Def. Paul Hilz, First Round TKO
Kicking off the main card was Jack Arnfield and Paul Hilz. Over quickly, this fight was an absolute war for as long as it lasted. The bell rang and Hilz charged at Arnfield pushing him up against the ropes while landing hard. Yet Jack came in with the perfect gameplan to target Hilz’s low stance. Upon entry, he repeatedly landed a string of beautiful uppercut, hook combinations, opening up a nasty cut above Hilz’s right eye. Despite this, Hilz fought on unphased and showed a sense of belonging amongst the chaos. Eventually, the fight was stopped due to cuts and Arnfield was declared the victor. So what did we learn from this clash? Well, Arnfield is certainly the real deal and looks like a tough matchup for anyone at Middleweight. Needless to say, his Boxing IQ is something to behold and he managed the distance well, despite the limitations of the sixteen-foot ring. Meanwhile, Hilz showed the type of grit, heart and determination accredited to few. A great fight and a real shame it was cut so short.
Kris Trezise Def. Robby Drought, Unanimous Decision
Next up, Kris Trezise versus Robby Drought. Before I begin this breakdown, I just want to commend Kris on his choice of walkout music. What a corker! Get Back by Ludacris for future reference. Anyway back to the fight. Before this one, Drought was admittedly nervous and shook with anticipation at the Friday press conference. Yet come fight night, we saw a composed and confident Drought take to the ring. This fight saw a tremendous pace from start to finish with both men going toe to toe. Drought showed his strong amateur credentials, picking his shots and keeping his guard tight. Meanwhile, Trezise looked to land hard and find gaps with looping hooks. After a first-round which saw Drought awarded three 10-9’s, Trezise began to set up his hooks behind the jab. This adjustment worked to perfection as Trezise dropped drought in the second with a glancing right. Trez’s gameplan continued to work in the third and fourth, as his experience began to show. Come the fifth and both men began opening up, putting it all on the line for victory. But in the end, there could be only one winner, Kris Trezise, a deserved victory for a man who has given so much to the sport. One of the best fights of the night, I have to say I was greatly impressed by both men’s performances, particularly Drought who I had underestimated coming in.
Barrie Jones Def. Marc Navarro, Third Round TKO- British Lightweight Title Fight
Then, a British Lightweight Title bout between Barrie Jones and Marc Navarro. In a fight which saw Navarro struggle to adjust to his counterparts southpaw stance, Jones made good use of his trademark straight left. The Welshman remained first to every exchange, ensuring he kept Navarro away from the pocket. However, as the fight progressed so did Navarro, slipping shots and demonstrating the unwavering loyalty of a good chin. Call me crazy but amongst the masterclass of Jones, I saw genuine advancements in Navarro’s head movement. That being said, it was clear Jones was levels above on the night. After two rounds of well-timed accurate Boxing, Jones had shown the BKB world just how keen an eye he has for reactive collision. By the third, Navarro was bleeding badly and yet again we saw another doctors stoppage due to cuts. An awesome display of talent from Jones, this fight has certainly put the Lightweight division on notice.
Tyler Goodjohn Def. Sean George, Split Decision- World Featherweight Title Fight
This fight defines BKB’s principles. The best fight the best, and they don’t come much better than Sean George and Tyler Goodjohn. A battle of will and skill, both men took to the centre, looking to land with bad intentions. First, it was George with a beautifully timed right hand which sent the crowd into a frenzy and Tyler to the canvas. Then it was Goodjohn who landed clean on the temple in response, flooring George. As the first round came to a close, the atmosphere was deafening. It was clear this would be a landmark fight for BKB. From here the pace never eased up. The technical ability of both men was clear to see. Again we were treated to the beautiful fluidity of the sport we all know and love. In a bitterly close scrap, the decider lay in Goodjohn’s excellent bodywork, edging the output. On the other side, George showed his class through short sharp punches, reducing the effectivity of Goodjohn’s rolling counters. A fight which brought the best out of either man, it’s safe to say this wins the ‘Toe The Line Fight Of The Night’. In the end, Goodjohn won a split decision and was crowned the new World Champion. But one thing is for sure, no one would complain about a rematch.
Jimmy Sweeney Def. Jean Carlos Prada Jr., Fourth Round TKO- World Lightweight Title Fight
Finally, it was our main event for the World Lightweight Title between Jimmy Sweeney and Jean Carlos Prada. Another technical masterclass from Sweeney, ‘The Celtic Warrior’ kept the Venezuelan at bay as he landed his looping right hand at will. With both men looking to counter, this fight became an intense chess match, boiling down to Sweeney’s ability to move effortlessly in and out of range. During the third round, there was a rather bizarre moment when Sweeney landed a clean body shot that sent Prada down curled over. Yet the knockdown was not counted to the dismay of many. From my angle, the referee Barrington Patterson was not refusing to count due to a perceived low blow, but rather a late strike after an attempted break. Although it was not made entirely clear by Barrington, he did make some attempt at stepping in after the two came together on the ropes. Of course, I cannot completely confirm this to be fact, yet it does seem reasonable considering the evidence. Nevertheless, the two broke away from the clinch on their own accord and at least in my eyes the knockdown should have stood. After the body shot, Prada never looked the same, no longer snapping but rather pushing out his shots. Sweeney had clearly broken his man and it was only a matter of time before he finished him. Ultimately it was a cut that ended the inevitable, not to take anything away from Prada of course who looked sharp early on.
‘Toe The Line’ Fight Of The Night: Tyler Goodjohn vs Sean George
‘Toe The Line’ Knockout Of The Night: Smudger Smith
‘Toe The Line Performance(s) Of The Night: Tyler Goodjohn, Barrie Jones and Jimmy Sweeney
Card Rating: 9.5/10
Fans Rating: 9/10