It was second time lucky for Ebbw Vale’s Ashley Brace (7-0-1, 3 KOs) who became the first British woman to land the EBU title with a wide unanimous decision over Germany’s Xenia Jorneac (8-3, 2 KOs) at the Ice Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
Dropping down in weight class since her earlier draw with Spain’s Melania Sorroche for the bantamweight version of the title, Brace came into the fight with a renewed vigor, intentions on putting the months of frustration to good use.
Both women started quickly in order to gain dominance in the bout but it was the Valley’s girl who was landing the better of the exchanges in the early going.
Jorneac proved good opposition to excite the crowd as the style complimented Brace’s well as we settled in for a great contest.
Going into the middle rounds, Brace switched to a southpaw stance which worked well as the German flummoxed by the tactic tried to make the readjustment. Brace was starting to have more success as the fight wore on, going from strength to strength in her new weight class, looking like she could go another ten rounds.
In the end, unlike last time, there was no controversy as the right woman won, doing so by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 100-90.
Cruiserweight Craig Kennedy (17-1, 8 KOs) took a hard-fought eight-round decision over the formerly unbeaten Lithuanian, Nikolajs Grisunins (7-1-1, 4 KOs) via a score of 80-72.
Making his return after 11 months out of the ring, Fight fans were eager to see him get back in the win column following his knockout loss at the hands of Matty Askin.
Now under the guidance of Gary Lockett, Kennedy settled into the contest as both fighters sized the other out in a rather technical opener. Kennedy started to find his range in the second which brought claret running from the nose of Grisunins before further gaining confidence from a hard shot in the third which seemed to rock Grisunins.
Further blood was spilled in the fourth, Kennedy again letting his hands go, opening a cut over the eye of Grisunins, giving referee Reece Carter cause for concern towards the end of the fifth, bringing the ringside physician to take a closer look at the cut of Grisunins, The doctor wasn’t as concerned and give the all clear to continue.
Kennedy by this point looked to be well on top, although he too sported a cut from what appeared to be an unintentional headbutt, Grisunins landed a decent left hand late in the bout as the two went back and forth to see out a great fight to end a great night of action in the Welsh Capital.
Liam Williams (17-2-1, 12KOs) got back in the win column with a stoppage win over late replacement Darryl Sharp (5-33),
Williams was originally due to face Anatoli Hunanyan but the latter for whatever reason didn’t board his plane, so Sharp stepped into the breach, facing the mammoth task of handing Williams his third loss on the bounce following his controversial two fights with Liam Smith.
The first round started with Williams using pressure to position Sharp against the ropes where could unload, this continued into the second where added to the mix was an effective right hand which rocked Sharp.
The writing was on the wall, Williams in a rush to end the one-sided nature of the contest again landed a solid right hand that jolted the head back of Sharp, prompting referee Martin Williams to call a halt to the fight.
Cardiff’s Nathan ‘Thunder’ Thorley (9-0, 5 KOs) earned a decision win over Adam Jones (7-30-6, 2 KOs) via a score of 79-75 in a close fight which kept us all entertained throughout.
Due to the cancellation of the original opponent in Charles Adamu it would have become easy to overlook the challenge that Jones presented, but for the most part, Thorley showed a different side to his game, boxing at range, using his obvious advantage of height and reach to offset the attack of Jones.
Thorley was controlling the action early, impressively using his jab keep distance between the two men, before putting together some stinging shots in the mid to late rounds in an obvious effort to score another stoppage win. Jones to his credit was going nowhere, the stubborn away fighter dug deep in the last two rounds to make things a little more interesting for us as he was able to land shots of his own, we awaited the decision from the referee, who handed in a score of 79-75 for the Welsh champion.
Kieran Gething (5-1, 1 KO) was given a potential banana skin in the form of former Commonwealth champion Bradley Pryce (38-25, 20 KOs) for his sixth professional outing, but the younger man came through with a solid point victory.
Pryce stepped in at late notice for Tony Dixon who was unable to fight after an injury to his eye canceled the Welsh title bout, Nevertheless, Gething was in no mood for a slip up as he got straight down to business, taking control of the centre of the ring, blooding the nose of Pryce in the forth.
Pryce who had promised his retirement should he lose, gave those in attendance a great fight, not backing down and even bruising the eye of the Pontypool resident.
As the fight wore on, the miles on the clock of a great career were taking effect, Pryce was now feeling the effects of an engaging encounter, his legs dipping late on but ultimately going out on his feet to a worthy victor in Gething who scored a wide decision win via a score of 60-54 from the referee.
Welsh Lightweight champion Gavin Gwynne (9-0, 1 KO) impressed his traveling support with a wide unanimous decision win over the late replacement of Hereford’s Dean Evans (6-21-2, 4 KOs) to collect a score of 60-53.
Gwynne had way too much for Evans who for the most part was in retreat from the marauding Welsh champion. The result was never in doubt from start to finish, punctuated with a knockdown in the second.
Evans showed his experience in surviving the assault that followed but was on the receiving end of some heavy-handed, bad intentions from Gwynne who will be happy with his night’s work as he continues his ascent through the lightweight rankings
Swansea’s Kristian Touze (5-0-2) found himself on the canvas in his four-round draw with Alec Bazza (0-34-3).
Bazza who was looking for the first win of his career was in seek and destroy mode for much of the contest, landing with some hurtful shots, one that left the quick southpaw on the deck.
He regained his footing in the bout thereafter but was pushed all the way as Bazza had to settle for a draw after a 38-38 score was rendered by referee Chris Jones.
‘Baby’ Jacob Robinson (2-0, 1 KOs) shined in his second professional outing, putting forth a great display of his vast skill-set with a decision win over the always tough Jamie Quinn (3-57-2).
The son of former World champion Steve Robinson, countered every move from the away fighter, using his quick feet to get out of danger whenever Quinn thought he was within striking distance, made to hit fresh air by the impressive evasive nature of Robinson in another brilliant display.
Olympic Silver Medallist, Fred Evans (4-0) dominated the four rounder with William Warburton (25-132-10, 4KO), winning by a score of 40-36.
The scoring from the judges was reflective of the fight, Evans using a solid tactic of going to the body of Warburton to emphasize the divide in talent between the two men.
Warburton has become a prospects nightmare in the past, having beaten many a talented up and comer in his 25 win resume but Evans was not ready to join that list with an impressive display, possibly the best of his career to date.
Afghan Born Lottie Quryshi (0-1) had a debut he would want to forget on the night’s opener, handed defeat to Northern Ireland’s Casey Blair (5-38, 1KO) via third-round stoppage.
Quryshi started well enough, using the jab to gauge distance but the concern was there for all to see in the second after two solid right hands appeared to shook the debutant. Blair sensing his time for the upset, closed the distance in the third before engaging in a two-fisted assault that left referee Reece Carter with little choice but to intervene, calling a halt to a debut that Quryshi will want to quickly forget