Andy Whittle watches a late count deny Craig Derbyshire against Tommy Frank in Yorkshire
A COUNT given to Craig Derbyshire with barely 10 seconds of his British flyweight title bout against old adversary Tommy Frank remaining at the Magna Centre on Sunday saw the Bentley man’s gallant title aspirations thwarted at the very last. Derbyshire, second best early doors against the jabbing Glyn Rhodes charge, had been down early in the fifth too but that setback only served to increase his ambition. Throwing caution to the wind he simply redoubled his efforts, so much so that I had the underdog ahead before, with the end in sight, down he went once more. There were no celebrations from either camp prior to the decision being announced – it had been that close. Had Frank done enough early to complete a double over the man he outpointed over 10 in an Area title bout back in 2018. Or had the gritty determination and fight back of Derbyshire earned revenge?
Neither, it turned out. The split decision draw meaning that Frank retained his championship and, after a several contentious decisions in recent months we saw a verdict here, in a fight too close to call, that got it exactly right. Howard Foster scored 114-113 for Derbyshire at the finish, Mark Lyson went 114-112 for Frank with Terry O’Connor having it all square at 114-114. Man in the middle was Doncaster’s Mike Alexander.
Could there be a third helping? One would hope so.
A chief support bout over eight between Grimsby’s unbeaten Levi Giles and tough Nicaraguan Brayan Mairena as expected went the distance with referee Andy Brook scoring 79-75 for the man from Humberside at the finish.
Mairena, a regular visitor who very rarely fails to hear the final bell proved his mettle once more, taking everything that came his way, which was plenty, and replying intermittently with a fair few shots of his own despite a fair proportion of what he threw being evaded by the fleet of foot Giles.
There was a degree of annoyance in the home corner when the bout between Sheffield’s Keanen Wainwright and Margate’s late sub Matar Sambou was cut to four rounds prior to the commencing of hostilities. But the man dubbed “The Wolf” wasn’t distracted from the task in hand and duly required just shy of three rounds to see off the “Senegalese Tiger”. Howard Foster halting it with 10 seconds of the third remaining when the African, having just risen after being tagged coming in and sent over backwards found himself under fire once more.
London-based Frenchman Ismael Francois Milad, beaten just once in nine outings in his homeland, returned for a first bout in over two years looking to impress against Evgenii Vazem, one of a growing number of Russians seemingly now ensconced in Southampton.
Truth told, this one didn’t amount to a great deal entertainment-wise, with Ismael, cut by the right eye early in the last, taking it 39-37.
There was defeat too for another Russian when Alexey Tukhtarov, a narrow winner over Joe Laws a week earlier, lost out 58-56 to Billy Pickles of Leeds in a six. I did wonder if Tukhtarov might just have another gear or two should he choose to up the ante but if he did he wasn’t letting on and he ultimately lost out 58-56, with Pickles, busy behind the jab, deserving the nod from Howard Foster who also took charge of the Milad–Vazem bout.
Just a single point separated the two combatants in the afternoon’s six-twos, Wolverhampton’s Katie Healy edging home 58-57 against Romanian opposition in the shape of Gabriella Mezei, a fourth overseas opponent on the bounce for Katie but one who, as is usually the case, came to fight and kept it interesting. Andy Brook refereed.
With one win already in the bag, Barnsley’s Matty Heppenstall went in with York’s Harry Matthews, who conversely was having his 75th outing in the paid ranks, and it was the novice who doubled his win tally despite him being a little guilty of waiting too long at times. Mr Brook adjudged him a 39-37 winner.
Grimethorpe first timer Danny Hall who, like Heppenstall boxes out of the stable of Carl Greaves, wasn’t granted the easiest of debuts against Richard Helm of Rochdale who’d won one and drawn one of his first four on the road. The new start though, increasingly in the ascendancy, took it 39-37 at the finish of a bout watchable throughout but he always had to be wary of a dangerous opponent. Mr Brook of Leeds refereed.
The Verdict A tremendous scrap for the British title that will hopefully be played again.