by Eliot Stott
The Golden Contract Tournament came to town on Friday night as all 8 Featherweights entered at the quarter-final stage, looking to secure their financial future by winning the tournament along with as many £5K KO bonuses as possible.
Tyrone McCullagh (13-0) vs Razaq Najib (11-3) – Featherweight – Golden Contract Quarter Final
Having only been officially confirmed for the tournament on Thursday after Mexican Carlos Araujo pulled out, the odds were rightly stuck high up against Najib who fought only 2 weeks ago in a 4 rounder.
As well as the above, Najib was coming up against the undefeated McCullagh who had been putting months of preparation into the tournament.
Perhaps rather predictably, McCullagh dominated most of the proceedings as fitness and technical ability told, out-pointing the tough Najib with scorecards of 97-93, 98-92 & 96-94.
Jazza Dickens (27-3) vs Carlos Ramos (11-1) – Featherweight – Golden Contract Quarter Final
Backed by Tony Bellew to win the whole tournament, former world title challenger was in a tough fight from the off against Spaniard Ramos who was targeting the scouse’s body from the first bell.
Dickens who was fighting at York Hall for the first time in his professional career which has now lasted almost 9 years, perhaps like McCullagh was going into the unknown against Ramos.
Ramos who actually beat fellow tournament competitor Razaq Najib in his last fight, provided those in attendance with an entertaining start to the fight, beating Dickens to the punch at times.
However in the final stages of round 4 Dickens scored a vital knockdown, taking the sting out of Ramos’ work ethic for the rest of the contest.
Dickens went on to dominate the rest of the fight, being awarded scores of 97 – 92 x2 & 99-91.
Ryan Walsh (24-2-2) vs Hairon Socarras (22-0-3) – Featherweight – Golden Contract Quarter Final
Current British champ Ryan Walsh came up against unbeaten Cuban Hairon Socarras in a fight that many were tipping Walsh to become unstuck in.
Strongly rumored to fight US prospect, Shakur Stevenson, earlier this year, Walsh arguably had the toughest quarter final contest available.
After 4 competitive rounds, Walsh connected with a huge hook, stunning Socarras who only stayed on his feet due to the ropes. Similar to the Dickens fight, the contest changed after the knockdown with Walsh growing stronger as the fight continued.
Having fought 36 rounds in his last 3 fights compared to the 14 that Socarras has ventured through, Walsh showed his endurance in the 2nd half of the fight, roughing the Cuban up on a regular basis.
Aiming for the £5K KO bonus, Walsh got what he wanted in the 9th round, giving Referee Rob Williams no other option but to halt the contest after Socarras wasn’t responding to any of Walsh’s punches.
Leigh Wood (22-1) vs David Oliver Joyce (11-0)
The best was truly saved until last on Friday night as Leigh Wood and David Oliver Joyce went to war over the final place in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Joyce a hugely accomplished amateur and undefeated as a professional, looked 2nd best early on, was dropped in the second round after pressure from the Nottingham based fighter.
Afterward, Joyce sold a war to Wood who was happy to oblige. Both fighters traded on a regular basis with Joyce enjoying his fair share of punches in the middle rounds of the fight.
However, despite having the better of some of the exchanges and potentially some of the rounds along the way, Joyce has dropped again before being stopped in the 9th round, after taking enough punishment throughout the contest.
Jacob Robinson (6-0) vs Sean Davis (14-6) – Featherweight
Competing in only his 7th professional fight, ‘Baby Jake’ Robinson dominated a very much former British Title challenger in Sean Davis over 8 rounds.
Davis who is also a former English champion was outpointed over the course of the contest and now risks being given the ‘journeyman’ tag having lost his last 5 fights.
Robinson who has also defeated Jonny Phillips early in his career may be looking at titles in his career sooner than many would after a few fights.
Sam Gilley (9-0) vs Arnoldo Solano (14-20) – Super-Welterweight
York Hall regular Sam Gilley didn’t waste any time in dispatching the limited Nicaraguan Arnoldo Solano.
Originally venting his frustration on social media, Solano was lined up as a late replacement for Londoner Gilley who was obviously keen to score a knockout in his 10th professional contest.
Obviously a tricky customer having only been stopped 3 times in his career, Solano was originally hard to hit early on in the 1st round but practically walked into a crunching left hand from Gilley who had previously only scored 4 knockouts out of 9 victories.
Gilley who has discussed moving up and challenging for titles for the last few months is a member of the MTK stable well worth keeping an eye on over the next 12 months.
Randal Barlow (debut) vs Zygimantas Butkevicus (2-24) – Super-Welterweight
Irishman Randal Barlow enjoyed a healthy York Hall welcome for his first professional debut. The freakishly tall Super-Welterweight (6”3), didn’t show much in the weigh of nerves against journeyman Butkevicus.
However, the 26-year-old southpaw didn’t show any signs of nerves throughout the 4 round bout despite being cut above the right eye. Regardless of the cut, Barlow contained his exposure until the final bell using his reach advantage for the vast majority of the fight as one would expect.