It wasn’t the result he wanted, but Scott Quigg could at least leave the O2 Arena with his world title still around his waist.
His eventual draw with Yoandris Salinas was the sort of contest that is made for the “bout of two halves” cliché. Early on the slick Salinas dominated in a slow paced bout behind his jab with Quigg content to throw single shots and try to counter the quick Cuban. As Salinas reddened Quigg’s face the British hopeful couldn’t find his range or timing and frankly was made to look a little foolish, his usual effective counter-punching style falling apart against the quicker, smoother man. At about the midpoint however Quigg changed tactics, starting to press forward and throw in combination, raising the tempo and targeting the body. He clearly discomforted Salinas when he did so, at one point appearing to have the former amateur star in real trouble. Quigg swept the latter rounds and on my scorecard did enough to sneak the win (115-113). That said I cannot complain about the draw; Quigg simply left it too late. After the bout he said that if he’d tried his later tactics earlier he’d have risked walking onto punches but I suspect that was merely regret talking; he cost himself that bout by being too passive early on even when it was clear he was losing the battle on the outside.
Despite the disappointing result Quigg still holds onto his world title. As mentioned in my preview there are domestic superfights to be made with Carl Frampton (assuming Frampton gets passed Frenchman Jeremy Parodi, which he should) or Kid Galahad but promotional issues might make those bouts somewhat difficult. Outside of those two most of the top contenders and champions in the division are US or Mexican based; the most likely major bout is probably a unification with the winner of the Kiko Martinez and Jeffrey Mathebula for the IBF strap.
As for Salinas, he shouldn’t be too disappointed. The draw means he doesn’t lose his ranking with the various alphabet soup organisations and he may be in line for a rematch in the short to medium term. Beyond that in his first real step-up bout he showed he belonged at this level as well as his strengths and weaknesses. Counter-intuitively it may be the weaknesses that help him most; while he proved himself slick and awkward he also showed flaws when the pace increased and when Quigg got inside. Those flaws mean a promoter or manager looking at opponents for their star boxer are more likely to select Salinas then if he remained an unknown boxer without any noted weaknesses.
In the nominal main event of the evening Anthony Joshua did what we expected him to do in flattening Emanuele Leo inside a round. Leo was a better opponent than most face in their debut but he was still a fairly poor boxer and there is only so much we can learn from such performances. Joshua had a good jab that he landed repeatedly, showed good power and accuracy while throwing in combination. Perhaps the only real concern was in his body shape; Joshua had a heavily muscled torso and a rather skinny pair of legs. I’m no expert on bio-mechanics but I suspect it’s something his strength and conditioning coach will want to work on for bouts where his stamina and punch resistance are tested.
Kevin Mitchell kept his career on track with a one-sided sixth round stoppage over Marco Lopez. Early on Lopez was defensively sound with Mitchell struggling to land cleanly but unfortunately for the Mexican any time he threw punches himself Mitchell took him apart. Always in control, Mitchell simply kept plugging away, breaking his opponent down and eventually finishing him. Mitchell looked good here but despite his pretty record Lopez was a limited boxer; we’ll learn more about where Mitchell stands in both the domestic and world scenes in his likely next bout against Mersey hardman Derry Mathews.
Another boxer looking to move beyond domestic competition was Lee Selby who defended his British title (and thus won the Lonsdale belt outright) with a victory over Ryan Walsh. This bout was a perfect example of wide scorecard not necessarily meaning a one-sided bout; the judges cards were in the same region as mine (117-111) but many of the rounds were close and competitive. Ryan Walsh made the talented Selby look ordinary and workman like at times, defending well and catching the champion with counter shots but in the end Selby’s greater workrate and higher degree of class came through. It’s not the sort of performance Selby would have wanted from his last bout at this level before looking towards world title contention but I don’t think he should be too disheartened; I suspect Walsh (who himself should take heart from his performance) will make a lot of boxers at domestic level look very ordinary.
Foreshadowing what was to come from Joshua, fellow Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell annihilated his opponent in the first round. Despite Neil Hepper‘s claims before the bout that he would give the prospect a real test the harsh truth was that he was picked as an opponent for a reason… the reason being that he wasn’t very good. Campbell dropped him once (although there was a hint that the knockdown came after Campbell stood on his foot) and then finished him shortly after. This was simply Campbell going through the motions; there will be much tougher tests to come.
Perhaps the most entertaining bout on the card came during the streamed portion as domestic cruiserweight contenders Wadi Camacho and Tony Conquest met. Early on the Camacho appeared to be in total control; he dropped Conquest twice in the opening two rounds and looked to be set for either a finish or at least a wide decision. Instead he got wilder and wilder, the boxing equivalent of a child swinging at flies with a stick which allowed Conquest to come back strongly with his own more technical game. I had Conquest sweeping the latter part of the bout and while Camacho objected to the final decision in Conquest’s favour he has no-one to blame but himself; he threw the bout away with his lack of discipline. Camacho has some potential but he needs to be more disciplined in and out of the ring. Conquest in contrast showed real guts, determination and skill to get a good win that puts his career back on track after his upset loss to Neil Dawson.
If Campbell’s bout was an indication of what was to come from Joshua then the bout between Danny Connor and Tony Owen was a bout of two halves just as much as Quigg and Salinas. Early on Owen’s speed and rangy style have him the edge but as the rounds wore on Connor came forward with his relentless grinding approach and tended to get the better of it. The end result was a narrow win for Owen by a single point (96-95) with a controversial knockdown in the ninth being all that stopped it being a draw.
Prospect Glenn Foot looked fairly good in easily outpointing John Brennan. This was basically a keep busy bout for Foot who in his last contest defeated experienced domestic contender Jason Cook and will be looking for more meaningful bouts in the future.