What are the chances of a late summer evening in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, remaining entirely dry? Kynoch Boxing and Dennis Hobson’s FightZone movement put their faith in the weather and were repaid, as their July 31s show delivered some fiery, competitive clashes and some ice cold finishing.
Upon arrival at the Hamilton Academical’s football stadium, two things were apparent: This wasn’t your average Scottish small hall show and the fans were definitely back. It was the first open air professional boxing card since Mike Tyson decimated a ghostly, grossly overmatched Lou Savarese in Hampden Park over 20 years ago and, for Boxing Social’s money, it overdelivered.
In the evening’s maiden title fight, Macduff man Billy Stuart returned to the ring for the first time in 20 months, challenging little-known Mexican Alejandro Jair Gonzalez for the IBF 122lbs Youth title. Those words, “little-known Mexican” should sound alarm bells – and Stuart recognised early on that this wasn’t your typical ring return. Gonzalez, cornered and constantly hollered at by his female trainer, was relentless. He hurt the Scottish fighter on multiple occasions and continued marauding forward. Stuart gave as good as he got, often sinking shots into the travelling fighter’s body, but his face was swollen and the door just wouldn’t open. Gonzalez won the fight by majority decision (98-93 and 96-94), despite one judge scoring the contest even (95-95).
Last year, during the midst of the pandemic, one of Scotland’s beloved amateur trainers, Rab Bannon, sadly passed away. Bannon was renowned for introducing Ricky Burns to the sport, but his influence on the career of Ben McGivern was obvious as the debutant walked to the ring wearing a t-shirt paying homage to the Barn ABC coach. Light-heavyweight McGivern had waited a long time for this and, as he stepped through the ropes, he soaked up his applause and adulation. He squared off against the always-entertaining Lewis Van Poetsch – who was dressed and dancing to “It’s a hard knock life” on his way to the ring. McGivern looked intent on putting on a performance, pouring it on early and landing some punishing shots to Van Poetsch’s mid-section. As the third and fourth rounds played out, McGivern slightly tired and shipped a couple of slick, sneaky shots to the head which kept him honest – but he saw his hand raised, an unbeaten professional fighter at long last, winning 40-36 on all three judges’ cards.
One of the show’s most promising talents fought in its co-main event, clamouring for his first international title. Dean Sutherland has looked unphased at most junctures, racking up 10 victories in impressive style. Last night though, he faced Jose Antonio Delgado Velazquez – yes, you guessed it, a “little-known Mexican.” Sutherland’s bout played out as planned however, and he was tremendous in breaking down the Mexican, using a blend of intelligent combinations and superior footwork. Sutherland – originally from Aberdeen – continued punishing Velazquez until the visiting fighter surrendered under another barrage, seeking solace against the ring post. It was only Sutherland’s third stoppage, but often they begin to present themselves when faced with game opponents chasing the same dream. Sutherland captured the WBO Youth title at welterweight, with a TKO in round seven.
Kynoch Boxing recently signed featherweight contender Nathaniel Collins after he’d built up an impressive domestic record fighting on small hall shows in Glasgow. Collins, formerly a Team Scotland Commonwealth Games representative, told Boxing Social he is more than ready for British and European honours and last night he looked as good as his word. Fighting Ghanaian Felix Williams, Collins was in devastating form, roared on by a returning fanbase, sorely missed during the course of the pandemic. Collins looked in superb condition, chiselled, focused, but it was his immediate acceleration that impressed those in attendance as he rattled off machine-gun combinations, bemusing Williams. It was a fight expected to last a little longer than just three rounds, but Collins seemed in a rush to destroy his opponent before the lights came on and the Ghanaian couldn’t cope in his moments of darkness. Collins won the Commonwealth title at featherweight via TKO in round three.
A division that domestically contains the likes of Leigh Wood, Josh Warrington, Jazza Dickens and Kid Galahad will be hard to crack, but the Scot feels like it’s time for a fresh face. He was very impressive last night, as was FightZone and Kynoch’s production. Often these smaller scale shows are left untouched, fighting in their own shadow cheered on only by friends and family. Last night, while another outdoor fight card stole the headlines, Sam Kynoch, Dennis Hobson, and Co. could hold their heads very high. Now, it’s about how they continue that progression.
Main image: A victorious Collins with trainer Joe Ham Sr. Photo: Twitter @Joehamsnr