Having being given a fantastic opportunity to cover the boxing scene across the North East, my first show to cover was the annual Summer Rumble held at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.
This year’s event was co promoted by Phil Jeffries and Steve Wraith.
A beautifully sunny day on the banks of the River Wear was the perfect setting for such a well organised, well supported card of local talent from around the region and indeed further afield.
There had been a lot of interest in the lead up to this event given it’s reputation from previous years and the supporters were in fine voice from beginning to end – most notably the support of Joe Laws, which I will elaborate on later.
The first fight of the day pitted Joe Hill (Redcar) against Matt Johnson (Leicester).
Hill controlled from the jab early on and landed eye-catching combinations throughout the contest. Johnson offered enough of a warning at times as Hill often stepped in with his right hand quite low which was easy to counter.
Hill however, had enough about him technically to showcase all of his ability with great footwork to get in and out of range – often catching Johnson on the way out with flush left hooks.
The decisive moment came in the third round when a thunderbolt of an overhand right floored Johnson and he was deemed unable to continue. Another good learning fight for Hill as he takes his record to 2-0 with 1 KO.
Terry Tyers (Trimdon, Co. Durham) was next up against Zygimantas Butkevicius (Lithuania).
Tyers was quick to assert himself on “Zyggi” from the opening bell with a strong jab landing almost at will. He stepped this up with straight one two’s and stayed light on his feet as he moved out of range when pressed.
Zyggi was looking to work on the inside and had brief moments of success as he went to the body of Tyers, taking advantage of a lowered right guard as he came upstairs. But more often than not, he left himself way too open to shots on the counter.
The contest was looking closer though as Zyggi pressed again but as he did so, “Turbo” (Tyers) connected with a strong left hook which sent Zyggi a couple of steps backwards. Tyers stepped in looking for the finish and although his flurry of punches were not all successful, the referee had seen Zyggi absorb enough punishment and called a halt to the contest in round four. Tyers now moves to 3-0 with one stoppage.
Fight number three saw another young fighter from Forest Hall ABC make his pro debut in the shape of Terrence Wilkinson. His opponent from Bradford was Naheem Chaudhry, fighting for the 21st time with 20 previous defeats.
None of that mattered though as Terry was focused on doing the job he and coach Dave Ritson will have worked tirelessly on in the build up to the fight. Terry showed some glimpses of combination and power punching throughout, cutting the ring off in assertive fashion and using that industrial engine he has to force his opponent backwards constantly.
Chaudhry offered little in the form of a trade but he was very cute with his defensive work, catching a lot of Wilkinson’s work on his gloves and arms which will serve as a great lesson for Terry in future fights. The fight in general was a great showcase of what’s to come for young Tezza and he took all four rounds winning by 40 points to 36.
The fourth fight of the day was a good tear up between The second Hill brother on the card in Tom Hill against Michael Williams. Although Hill was by far the more technical boxer, Williams made life very difficult for him – often large parts of the fight being contested against the ropes. Hill though, was clever enough to be able to get out of danger and land some swift counters which Williams was more than happy to swallow and march forward from.
A strong performance from both men saw the contest end after the four round distance, Hill taking it by 40 points to 37. Williams received a good ovation and was escorted out of the ring in his sombrero by Carl Greaves.
The next battle, number 5, saw the fourth installment in the exciting pro career of Geordie lad Lawrence Osueke against Edgar Sniedze.
It was a controlled, classy performance from Osueke from the very first bell but despite having his opponent on the canvas in the first round, he was more than happy to see the four rounds out. This was more to do with Osueke having the calibre and intelligence to just fight his own fight and not risk getting drawn into unnecessary scraps as he could tell he was the far better boxer. He delivered a number of bone crunching right hands to his opponent from time to time, almost to signal that if he really wanted it – the stoppage would come.
Sniedze was tough enough and had decent ability but when you’re up against someone as imposing as Osueke and you’re being out boxed in every department – you know it’s a matter of survival more than anything else. The fight was given to Osueke by a comfortable margin of 40-35 and his record now moves to 4-0.
Then it was time for fight number 6. The Benwell Bomber, Joe Laws. Laws came out to an eruption of noise from his supporters, Phil Jeffries informed us that he had sold over 300 tickets for this fight which gives you a slight insight as to how noisy this lot were.
His opponent, Sylwester Walczak, had a very awkward, borderline clumsy looking style which clearly had Laws puzzled as he threw an overhand right which probably would have connected with a more conventional boxer. Laws was clearly feeding off the raw energy of the crowd and it showed in the opening exchanges as he didn’t apply his jab – electing instead to look for that “sweet dreams” shot. He settled into a better rhythm as the fight progressed however and despite the fight looking scrappy – it was hugely entertaining and Laws was in firm control.
He was docked a point for a low blow in the second round but Walczak didn’t make a meal of it and it was clearly accidental. This was to make no difference to the outcome however as he despatched his opponent by TKO in round three with a thunderous shot – bomber by name…
The support alone makes this lad worth keeping an eye on, clearly a character but an exciting boxer and a really friendly guy too.
The final bout of the night welcomed back Darren Surtees to the ring after a while off the scene. His opponent was William Warburton, who I had never heard of in my naivety but has a lot of respect on the boxing circuit as a journeyman.
Surtees controlled the fight throughout, in my opinion showing why he was the main event. His footwork, head movement, ring craft and composure was impeccable and although Warburton took him the 6 round distance, he was a spectator in his own fight most of the time. The punishing body blows of Surtees would have had any lesser man out of there and there were a few of us ringside wincing for Warburton but he reached the final bell to his credit. Unsurprisingly though, the scorecards at the end read 60-54 for Surtees and he now moves to 8-0 with 5 KO’s.
That marked the end of a great event in Sunderland and a clean sweep for all of the home fighters involved.