You have to hand it to promoter Eddie Hearn and to the British boxing crowd. If you were in the O2 Arena the atmosphere was electric, and no one was thinking “this is the second biggest fight show today.” The featured fights aired on SKY Box Office in the U.K and Showtime in the United States, and viewers were treated to a full night of fights. But heavyweight boxing was the main event, and the arena crowd let everyone know the O2 was the place to be. The British fans do show a bit of “L.A.” attitude as the arena was not properly full until the world title fights had started.
The main event saw IBF World heavyweight champion Charles Martin defend his belt against the hometown favorite Anthony Joshua. The preliminary fights set the table.
As expected, the middleweight bout between Mathew Macklin and Brian Rose turned into a hard fought affair that went the distance. Macklin came out looking sharp in the opening round, but Rose was able to start fighting back, using his length and movement. The early and middle rounds could have gone either way. The fight turned into a grueling affair, with Macklin eventually earning a warning for throwing several shots low and Rose losing a point for holding in the last round. Rose ended the fight with a bloodied face, while Macklin showed the wear and tear on his face as well, with his left eye swollen nearly shut. In the end, the judges gave it to Macklin by a majority decison with scores of 113-113, 115-111 and 115-111.
WBA World bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell (27-2-1) made the third defense of his title against Fernando Vargas (29-9-3), a late replacement who took the fight on less than 10 days notice. McDonnell was clearly the taller and longer fighter, but he took until the third round to get comfortable. McDonnell slowly picked up the pace over the next few rounds, with Vargas showing decent movement and good toughness, but little in the way of offense. Though McDonnell was dominating, he was happy working behind his fine jab and wasn’t looking to close the fight out. McDonnell has chafed when observers have stated he lacks power, but this fight did nothing to change that impression. He physically and technically outclassed Vargas, but Vargas was never visibly hurt during the first half of the fight. Once McDonnell had firmly established that Vargas could not hurt him, McDonnell picked up the work rate, and overwhelmed Vargas, who took a knee late in the 9th round to avoid further punishment.
IBF Featherweight titlist Lee Selby defended his belt against Philadelphia’s Eric Hunter in a battle that saw Hunter enter a huge underdog. The first round saw Selby playing his game, and he was taller and he enjoyed a solid reach advantage. In round two, Hunter sent Selby down with a counter left that put the champion on his back. Selby got up and went back to work. Hunter proved to be a game fighter throughout the fight, but Selby outclassed him over the long haul. The cards read 116-110, 116-110, 115-111, all for Selby.
Next up was the highly anticipated pro debut of Colin Benn, the son of legendary Nigel Benn, a former world champion in two weight classes. Benn wasted no time in dismantling Ivailo Boyanov with a succession of hard body shots. The end came at the 2:07 of round one.
Popular super middleweight George Groves faced David Brophy in the evening’s co-main event. Groves was the busier fighter. By round two Brophy was swelling under the eye and by round three he was bloodied. Limited head movement made Brophy an easy target. Groves floored Brophy in the fourth round and when he was slow to get up the referee waved it off. At stake was a minor WBA title.
For the main event, Anthony Joshua entered the ring first, giving Martin his champion’s privilege. Michael Buffer did the announcing, and the main event was on. The first round saw a cautious feeling out process, with Joshua perhaps throwing a bit more punches. The second round started out the same, and then it happened. Joshua landed a big right hand that knocked Martin on his butt. Martin beat the count, but he was scrambled. Seconds later, Joshua landed a similar crunching blow and Martin hit the floor again. The champion sat up to try and take the full ten count to recover. Still groggy, he appeared to mistime getting up at 10 and the referee waved it off. Anthony Joshua is the new IBF World heavyweight champion, and it is party time in London tonight.
Saturday, April 9th, 2016 – O2 Arena
Heavyweight 12 Rounds: Anthony Joshua over Charles martin via TKO in RD 2 @1:32.
Featherweight 12 Rounds: Lee Selby over Eric Hunter by UD (116-110, 116-110, 115-111).
Middleweight 12 Rounds: Mathew Macklin over Brian Rose by MD (115-11,115-111,113-113).
Bantamweight 12 Rounds: Jamie McDonnell over Fernando Vargas by TKO in RD 9 @2:39.
Super Middle 12 Rounds: George Groves over David Brophy via TKO in RD 4 @:47.
Lightweight 10 Rounds: Ohara Davies over Andy Keates via TKO in RD 4.
154 LBS 6 Rounds: Ted Cheeseman over Mario Petrov via TKO in RD 4.
Featherweight 6 Rounds: Kamil Laszczyk over Ignac Kassai via PTS.
Welterweight 4 Rounds: Conor Benn over Ivailo Boyanov by TKO in RD 1 @2:07.