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Night of the Belfast bodypunchers: Frampton and Conlan score KOs

The Belfast bodypunchers were out in force at the York Hall on Saturday night. Carl Frampton and Michael Conlan both scored victories with hurtful bodywork as they plotted their respective courses towards world title shots in the imminent future.

Former two-weight champion Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs) overcame a significant size disparity to score a seventh-round stoppage over late sub Darren Traynor with some sickening body blows. 

In a lightweight encounter, Frampton looked much the smaller man, but kept Traynor (16-4, 7 KOs) at bay with his superior ring acumen and mastery of distance. After eight-and-a-half months out, ‘The Jackal’ could be forgiven for some ringrust and he was content to box conservatively to get some much-needed rounds under his belt.

Frampton edged closer to a long-awaited WBO 130lbs title shot against Jamel Herring.
Photo: Queensberry Promotions.

Traynor was growing in ambition by the end of the fifth, but he didn’t possess the quality to exploit his natural size advantages. Frampton upped the ante in the sixth and made inroads with his adroit bodywork. A whipping right hand and punishing left hook downstairs dropped Traynor heavily just as the fight seemed destined to inch to the cards.

The Scot survived, but the writing was on the wall. After another left hook to the body in the seventh, Traynor turned away and waved his right glove in surrender, prompting referee Michael Alexander to step in. Job done for Frampton. WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring should be next and a much tougher proposition.

Now aiming for super-bantamweight glory, Belfast’s Conlan also prevailed with his work downstairs, but his body blows were his pleasure and his poison. At times, razor sharp to the body, Conlan also strayed perilously low and sailed a bit too close to a disqualification before halting a gutsy Sofiane Takoucht in the 10thand final round.

Conlan’s bodywork was eye-catching and eye-watering in equal measure.
Photo: Queensberry Promotion.

From the opening round, referee Steve Gray warned a southpaw Conlan to keep his shots up as he pounded the Frenchman’s beltline with impunity. The Belfast man unleashed whipping right hooks and crunching lefts to the body, but the warnings kept coming and became a concern. In the third, Gray issued what appeared to be a final warning and, at the end of the session, Takoucht bored in his head in a bit of afters.

Legal body blows had southpaw Takoucht gasping in the fourth, but yet another low blow finally saw a point deducted from the Belfast man. Conlan appeared more wary of the consequences of his body blows in the fifth, but he was deducted a second point by a frustrated Gray after landing a low shot from a crouching position.

Conlan (14-0, 8 KOs) had won every round, barring the deductions, but his wounds were self-inflicted. A legal left hook to the body had Takoucht doubled up in the seventh in a dominant session, but Conlan couldn’t afford to stray low. Fortunately, he retained his composure and, in the 10th, he closed the show.

A left hook downstairs badly hurt Takoucht (35-5-1, 13 KOs) and Conlan tore into him. After a right to the body and left hook upstairs left the Frenchman reeling, referee Gray intervened. Conlan hopes to fight new WBO 122lbs champion Angelo Leo in the near future. 

Conlan is ready for the best at 122lbs.
Photo: Queensberry Promotions.

World-rated super-featherweight Archie Sharp narrowly avoided an embarrassing defeat with a wafer-thin decision over Tottenham’s surging Jeff Ofori. A lethargic Sharp (19-0, 9 KOs) faded in the second half of the fight as Ofori ramped up the pressure levels and pushed him mightily close. Sharp appeared to edge the last round and looked like he needed it. Referee Marcus McDonnell scored it 96-95, which seemed about right. 

The Welling stylist ghosted out of harm’s way early on as he controlled the tempo of the fight. Ofori couldn’t narrow the gap effectively as the pace meandered at pedestrian levels before the Tottenham man slowly cranked into life, banging an increasingly sluggish Sharp to the body as the contest gradually swung in his direction.

His right hand was landing with regularity in the sixth and concern was creeping into the Sharp camp as Ofori (10-3-1, 3 KOs) bullied him in close. Sharp would have his moments, but then tiredness would see him sucked into the trenches and pinged by right hands. He was tagged by a big left hook in the ninth and forced to hold as Ofori’s late rally threatened an upset. Sharp found enough spark in the final round to see the fight through despite being rattled by a left hook and right uppercut in the closing seconds and literally holding on for the win.

In something of an eyesore, Darlington 154-pounder Troy Williamson edged out the aptly nicknamed ‘Horrible’ Harry Scarff in another close call. Scores were 97-94, 96-94 and 96-95. It felt like it came down to the last round or two where Williamson’s crisper, cleaner work was more prominent after a number of scrappy, hard-to-watch sessions. The scuffling Scarff (8-2, 1 KO) will probably feel hard done by. He often had the better of what action there was with single shots, scuffing blows and mauling at the fore. Williamson (15-0-1, 11 KOs) dug deep late and that was deemed enough.

Limerick’s big welterweight hope Paddy Donovan (4-0, 3 KOs) showcased his rich potential with a first-round blowout of the usually resilient Des Newton (8-16, 2 KOs). Trained and managed by the insightful Andy Lee, Donovan dropped his man twice, finishing the fight with a vicious right hand to the body in the show opener. 

Another star-in-the-making, Dennis McCann also impressed with a second-round annihilation of noted survivor Brett Fidoe (13-64-5, 6 KOs). Yet again a body shot settled the argument. A left hand to the pit of the stomach sent Fidoe down in a delayed reaction and saw the Evesham stalwart stopped for only the second time in 82 contests. Maidstone bantam McCann (7-0, 5 KOs) illustrated why he is almost impossible to match at just 19. 

Main image: Carl Frampton’s bodywork drops Darren Traynor. Photo: Queensberry Promotions.