By Mark Turley: For anyone who had followed the build-up to Saturday’s ExCeL show, the clash between Carshalton’s Danny Cassius Connor and Tyler ‘Tornado’ Goodjohn from Ely in Cambridgeshire, in an English light welterweight eliminator over ten threes, was an intriguing one. The two had fought twice before, with one win apiece and had built the contest up into something of a grudge match. Banter on Twitter and Facebook had escalated into a heated confrontation at the final press conference in which insults were thrown around and things appeared on the verge of getting out of hand.
Goodjohn (10-2) entered the ring first, in a big straw hat and with The Wurzels “I’ve got a Brand New Combine Harvester” blasting from the PA, bringing smiles from the audience. He looked a little nervous, stepping from foot to foot, as Connor (10-8-1) made his way from the dressing room. From first bell, the pattern of the fight was established quickly, with Goodjohn (9st 13lb 4oz) taking a more aggressive approach and controlling centre ring, showing more variety in his work and sharper movement than earlier in his career. The first five rounds were close, but with the Ely man edging things, landing harder and cleaner shots and occasionally backing his opponent into corners. When in there, Connor (9st 13lb 2oz) showed defensive nous and would work his way out, but the impression remained that Goodjohn’s shots pushed Connor back, while the Carshalton fighter’s work was not having the same effect.
Connor evened things up in the second half of the fight and dominated several rounds through sheer workrate, but Goodjohn still caught the eye with shots that snapped his opponent’s head back and threes and fours that drove him across the ring. At the final bell, the ‘Tornado’ instinctively raised his hands in victory, sensing he had done enough. By contrast, Connor walked wearily back to his corner and did not try to claim the win until told to by his trainer. It had been a tough, tight battle, but the differences in the fighters’ reactions told you everything you needed to know.
The referee scored the bout 98-93 for Goodjohn, who graciously acknowledged the effort put in by his opponent. There could be few arguments over the winner, although the margin was perhaps a little wide. BoxRec News had Goodjohn two rounds up at the end.
Fareham’s Floyd ‘Pacman’ Moore (10-3-1) picked up the Southern Area lightweight strap in the evening’s second contest against Upminster’s Ryan 'Crash Bang' Taylor (8-2). It was an all-action battle, starting with a war of jabs and Taylor being deducted a point for use of the head in the first. The infraction seemed to really rile Moore, who went after his man ferociously, putting him down with a right hook. Taylor was up at six but Moore continued piling on the pressure. The second round was more competitive with telling shots from both men. In the third, Taylor looked to have reversed the flow of the fight, landing three thudding left hooks, trapping Moore in a corner, bloodying his nose and pumping in plenty of short blows to head and body. Moore looked ragged at the end of the session.
It came as something of a surprise therefore that ‘Pacman’ came out so strongly in the fourth, catching and stunning Taylor with a sharp left, then pounding him into a corner. As Taylor tried to back away, Moore landed four more shots with both hands and with nothing coming back from the Upminster man, referee Richie Davies stepped in and waved the action off at 1.04 of the fourth.
Elsewhere on the card, Lowestoft’s Olympic bronze medallist, Anthony Ogogo (4-0) was pitted against stubborn journeyman Dan Blackwell (5-27) from Trowbridge, in a middleweight bout over six threes. In only his fourth professional fight, Ogogo (11st 6lb 11oz) dominated the action fairly comfortably, showing the all-round skills expected of an Olympian. His footwork, speed and timing were all leagues above his opponent. Even when Blackwell (11st 6lb) held a high guard, Ogogo simply punched through it. There were points, during the fourth and fifth rounds when Ogogo was bouncing his gloves off Blackwell’s skull with such machine-gun regularity that referee Bob Williams appeared on the verge of stepping in. But the Trowbridge tough guy never really looked hurt and deserved to see the final bell. He perhaps didn’t deserve to lose 60-53, meaning that Williams had scored one round 10-8 despite there being no knockdowns. Blackwell can fight on with a level of pride in his performance. From Ogogo’s point of view, there can be no doubting his ability, but some more bite in his punching would serve him well as he advances through the levels.
Two cruiserweight matches completed this half of the card, the first of which featured the Prizefighter champion, Wadi ‘Machoman’ Camacho (11-2), from Canning Town via Barcelona. Camacho was keen to make a statement after losing out to Tony Conquest in a British title eliminator last time out, and showed his stuff against late replacement John Anthony (9-35-1). In all fairness, the 39 year old Anthony’s record and the fact that he has fought his career thus far at light heavyweight did not provide indications that the fight would be too competitive. Camacho did what he had to do and dominated proceedings with his power, before forcing a third round stoppage. It was a worthwhile rebuilding bout and one for ‘Machoman’ to try out a new tactical approach developed with trainer Don George, but far stiffer tests will await as he tries to work his way back into domestic title contention.
Anthony Joshua’s cousin, Ben Illeyemi (2-0-1, 14st 5lb 15oz) of Edgware, fought his way to a fortunate draw against Darlington’s Danny Fleary (1-1-1, 14st 4lb 6oz). It was a competitive scrap from first bell to last but Fleary looked to have the heavier hands and produced the more effective work, particularly in the third when Illeyemi shipped a fair bit of punishment. Referee Richie Davies scored it 38-38.
It’s become an overused cliché among boxing promoters to describe a card as ‘stacked’. But no-one could deny that the card at the Excel last Saturday was just that – perhaps too stacked in an honest analysis. The first contest got underway just before 5pm and with 16 fights slated and frequent pauses to allow Sky to film their discussion segments, it wasn’t until one in the morning that things were finally wrapped up. Even at that point, there were two bouts that hadn’t taken place, meaning that Erick Ochieng and John Wayne Hibbert were scratched from the card, sending their fans home disappointed.
Within such an extended night of boxing, there were inevitably a few disappointments and a couple of the bigger names on the bill put in flat performances in uncompetitive fights. However, the long tail of the card held the night together and it was there that the most compelling action was seen.
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