Bethlehem, Malta and Latvians

Another Sunday afternoon, another great show at the Pryzm Night club. We might as well get it out of the way and start off (again) with Sophie Varley.

In only her 6th EBF fight she found herself fighting for the EBF International Bantamweight title against Malta’s golden girl Mandy Cortis, who pipped Sophie on points in January in Malta. In the build up to the fight I saw a grit and determination in Sophie which made me very confident she would walk away with the belt even though neither of us were taking anything for granted, we both knew from recent experience what a dangerous opponent Mandy was.

Lee-sophie-leeBut Sophie was relentless in her training, to the point where I was having to tell her to take days off, she won the first three rounds convincingly, probably shaded the fourth and was just worn out in the fifth and sixth, it was almost a carbon copy of the Malta fight, she started well and dipped but she had done enough in the first three rounds to justify a deserved points win, which makes Sophie the first international belt holder at Bethlehem.

In the earlier fights, Liam Hayes was back in action after an eight months break and he showed some class winning on points. Manager of The Gate FC Jay Stevenson scored a convincing win in his second fight and next up was Seacroft heavyweight Graham Mattison, fighting for the EBF Northern Area Heavyweight title, Graham flattened his opponent with his first punch but as often is the case, a boxer who suffers an early knock down becomes a wounded animal with nothing to lose,

and so it proved. His giant Lancastrian opponent came back with a vengeance and put Graham on the canvas in the second before landing a punch which closed Graham’s eye. We had it checked by the doctor and I ironed his eye with an ‘en swell’ and he got off his stool and gave his opponent three counts in the third before the fight was stopped. An unbelievable show of grit, determination and heart, a fight worthy of a Rocky film.

Carly McKenzie beat Mel Halstead on points for the Central Area Featherweight title, which is a continuation of my series of women’s championship fights.   After the ‘Sophie show’ which was the main event we switched to the pro fights sanctioned by the Maltese Boxing Commission.

Lee-graham-mattison-1My old friend Ginger Woody scored a first round victory followed by former England amateur international Nathan De Castro who also handed out a first round knock-out to his opponent.

The MBC main event was Sam Smith’s professional début. I wasn’t worried about Sam stepping up in class, she had 23 EBF fights which has been a great grounding. She trained hard for the fight against an experienced Latvian opponent and it lasted all of one minute fifty seconds as Sam caught her with a superb right hook which almost took her head off. It just seemed a shame as we’d trained her to go the scheduled six rounds!

But all credit to Sam on a great if short professional début. I want to put Sam in the frame for a shot at the women’s lightweight title and hopefully a couple more performances like that will help fast track her to a title shot.

Thanks to all the boxers, back room staff and the sold out crowd for making this show such a great occasion.

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