The fight was held up until after the two main events meaning the Carshalton contingent had plenty of time to take advantage of the bar facilities. The large number of tickets sold by both fighters ensured a noisy and raucous atmosphere, even with the clock ticking past midnight.
The contest got under way with blistering action, neither man wanting to concede centre ring to the other. The first session was characterised by Boylan boring in aggressively while Owen lanced him with sturdy southpaw jabs and straight lefts. On several occasions Owen met fire with fire and the two fighters exchanged furious volleys of hooks and body shots.
At the start of the second the champion’s greater experience started to tell. He settled smoothly into his boxing, finding a fluent rhythm and dictating the pace. His spearing right jab found its target repeatedly and Boylan received a small cut at the top of his nose. The challenger continued trying to ambush his slimmer, longer limbed opponent but the timing wasn’t quite there and he found himself frequently beaten to the punch.
Boylan had the smarts to change things up in the third, sensing that he was in danger of being outboxed. He increased the distance slightly and fought from the back foot, trying to draw the champion’s lead to open him up for a counter. But Tony Owen is nobody’s fool and wouldn’t fall into the trap. He stayed at range and continued to get in first with his piston-like jab and slashing rights. Boylan quickly reverted to his tactics from the first two sessions and from the halfway point of the round was walking his man down again, winging in powerful looking shots but unable to land anything meaningful.
The fourth began in much the same way and it looked as if the fight was slipping away from Boylan. Owen was boxing with confidence and guile and Pretty Ricky didn’t seem to have an answer. Negativity showed in his body language. Before the fight, some had questioned the challenger’s record and wondered if he could handle the step up. The evidence of the first three rounds suggested that such questions were justified. I’d scored the first even and the other two comfortably to Owen – but Pretty Ricky was about to provide an emphatic answer.
At the mid-point of the fourth he finally connected, rocking Owen with a left and following up with hooks from both hands, including one possibly illegal shot, as the champion slid to the floor. Owen got up, but his legs had visibly stiffened. Referee Bob Williams administered an eight count and the next thirty seconds blurred into a collage of ferocious action as Boylan relentlessly went after the finish and the champion tried desperately to survive. The assault was simply too much for Owen, who backed against the ropes and after a succession of unanswered head shots the ref stepped in with eleven seconds remaining in the round. Cue scenes of jubilation from Ricky, his corner and his large army of inebriated fans.
It hadn’t necessarily been a great performance, but for a first proper title fight the new champion had done exceptionally well against a decent opponent. Boylan had been tenacious when he needed to be, and is now in a good position – a ticket seller, unbeaten in ten and with a Southern Area belt around his waist. BoxRec News took the opportunity to have a word with him once the dust had settled and he’d had time to recover.
“Look, to be honest, Tony was probably three rounds up when it ended. I started slow but I had a gameplan. I just wanted to walk him down, get inside and hurt him. And once I did, I’d follow up. Tony boxed very well, he perforated my left ear in the first round with a right hand, but I knew I’d catch up with him sooner or later. You can’t just box away like that all night, not in a ten round fight. I just knew that when my moment came I’d have to take advantage. My team all felt I’d be able to stop him, I know I’ve got strength, but Tony’s very tough so I didn’t want to make any silly predictions. I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.”
“Tony’s an absolute gentleman. I’ve spoken to him yesterday and he congratulated me and wished me all the best. We’re still mates. He knows its just business in there. That’s the game we’re in. We’ve both trained so hard, we both understand everything that’s involved, all the sacrifices of being a professional boxer so there’s no need for bad blood or any of that rubbish. Its just pure good sportsmanship all round and I think that’s what everything wants to see.”
So what now for a 25 year old Southern Area light-welterweight champ?
“Well obviously because of the injury I’m out for a little while. I can’t spar for eight weeks or so I’ll have to have a little lay-off. I’m going to stay disciplined over Christmas though and I want to get out as early as possible next year. I really want to kick on from here and make 2014 a big year for me.
“My mandatory defence is against John Wayne-Hibbert so that’ll probably be my first fight of the year. But we’ll see, I’ve been chatting with a couple of big promoters and I’m just happy to be in this position, delighted to have won and excited about what lies ahead.”
Boylan may still be a little rough around the edges, but they can be smoothed out through graft with trainer Alan Smith. If Saturday’s evidence is anything to go by, he could be going places. Once he had Owen hurt, he showed the sort of explosive finishing instinct that fight fans love. And if that’s what he does to his friends, Boylan in a grudge match would definitely be something worth watching.