Ruthless Galahad halts Dickens to lift IBF crown

A brutally efficient Kid Galahad systematically broke down the gallant Jazza Dickens to win the vacant IBF featherweight title after 11 punishing rounds at Matchroom’s Fight Camp in Brentwood on Saturday night.

With the victory, switch-hitter Galahad became the fifth fighter to graduate with world championship honours from the late Brendan Ingle’s famed Wincobank Gym in Sheffield, following in the footsteps of Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson, Junior Witter and Kell Brook.

“I’ve been waiting 19 years for this and it’s finally here, I’ve finally got it – IBF champion of the world,” Galahad told DAZN. “Not a little bit, the whole world. This [belt] doesn’t say Regular champion, this says world champion. People can think what they want. I come to fight. I’m a full-time professional, I don’t take no days off. Jazza Dickens will become a world champion 100%. Without a doubt, he’ll become a world champion. I’m just over the moon.

“Thank you Eddie Hearn. If it weren’t for Eddie Hearn I wouldn’t be in this position right now. Thank you to DAZN. I’m just over the moon, man. Brendan Ingle told me that I’m going to win everything from super-bantamweight up to lightweight. Nobody believed me and everyone doubted me when I said I’d become world champion. Before I met Brendan, I would have probably been locked up in jail. He was the only person that gave me hope. If it wasn’t for boxing, Eddie Hearn, DAZN, Brendan Ingle, my mum, I’d probably be locked up or dead.

“Naseem Hamed, I met him at the local mosque. I said to him, ‘Naz, I want to be a world champion like you’. He told me if I wanted to become a world champion I needed to go and find Brendan Ingle at the St Thomas’ Boxing Club [in Wincobank]. The rest is history. I went and met Brendan and that’s it.”

Fittingly, the man from the ‘Steel City’ entered the ring with a steely gaze and never lost focus, grinding down Dickens with a ceaseless jab and a steady thump of body punches. Scouser Dickens (30-4, 11 KOs) arrived in a rich vein of form and high spirits, believing he would avenge a 2013 loss to Galahad down at super-bantamweight, but rarely threatened after a bright start in the opening round. An early cut became a number of facial injuries as the remorseless Galahad gradually turned the screw.

After losing a hotly-contested split decision to Josh Warrington for the same belt in 2019, Galahad (28-1, 17 KOs) would not be denied in his second world title tilt. He was on Dickens like a rash from the opening bell, breaking the Scouser’s rhythm with a seemingly endless jab from either stance.

The tricky Galahad effortlessly shifted between orthodox and southpaw throughout. He pressed incessantly but southpaw Dickens dabbed him to the body and drilled him with left hands early. Yet Dickens was cut over the left eye from a head clash in the dying embers of the opening round.

Galahad was brighter in the second, peppering the Scouser with a never-ending flow of jabs and riddling him to the body. A right-hand counter swivelled Dickens on his feet in the third as Galahad held court in centre ring.

The Sheffield man was boxing and bullying in equal measure. Dickens had lost the tempo of the first round and by the fourth was unable to diffuse the steady flow of Galahad jabs. By the fifth, Galahad raised his workrate higher still and was picking off Dickens at will. The Scouser’s features were swelling and his nose leaking blood. It was an uphill task already at halfway.

Dickens concentrated on Galahad’s body, hoping to take advantage of the Yorkshireman’s apparent tightness at the weight in the sixth. But Galahad was unruffled. When referee Michael Alexander warned him for stepping on Dickens’ foot whenever their stances were opposite, it was a rare moment of concern.

In the seventh, Dickens belatedly stung Galahad with a thudding right hook, left hand volley to bring a roar of appreciation from his supporters in the crowd. But it wasn’t nearly enough. Dickens was still buoyed by that success entering the eighth, but Galahad stuck to his jab, doughty body work and endless switching. Plan A was working.

Galahad was apparently winning in relative comfort and, by the end of the ninth, Dickens was being lambasted on the ropes. After Dickens landed a sharp left hand in the 10th, Galahad tore into him to wrest back the momentum. When referee Alexander deducted a point from Galahad for a low shot in the same round, it was too late to effect the outcome.

Dickens hung in there in pursuit of a miracle in the 11th. His face was bloodied and battered as Galahad harassed him without relent though the end was near. With his left eye damaged and chances of turning the tables almost non-existent, trainer Derry Mathews compassionately pulled Dickens out before the last round. He could leave the ring with his head held high because Galahad was simply too good on the night, repaying the late Brendan Ingle’s faith in the best manner possible.

In a 150-second heavyweight rumble, Ipswich’s Fabio Wardley was under the cosh in the opening session before swiftly turning the tables to score a first-round win over Chertsey’s Nick Webb in their grudge match.

There was plenty of pre-fight needle to this one, but a motivated Webb (17-3, 13 KOs) was out of the blocks quicker and catching the English heavyweight champion with regularity. Wardley, though, has a pattern of being dangerous when under fire. In a flash, the momentum changed; Wardley (12-0, 11 KOs) span off the ropes and drove his rival across the ring before pillorying him in a corner.

Wardley’s avalanche of right hands had the upright Webb suddenly wilting in a corner. Referee Kieran McCann should have called a knockdown as the ropes had kept Webb up. Instead, Wardley’s pressure had Webb sinking to the canvas where referee McCann quickly waved it off. Crucially, there were no complaints from Webb. 

In a wild and woolly heavyweight encounter, Croatian ‘Savage’ Alen Babic knocked lumps out of an extremely game Mark Bennett before the Doncaster man was withdrawn on his stool after the fifth round.

With the sweet science not remotely in evidence, the hell-for-leather Babic (8-0, 8 KOs) had Bennett teetering on the brink of defeat throughout the first round. Bennett twice jettisoned his mouthpiece to buy more time, but also tagged the offence-minded Babic with some flush right hands. But Babic, as we know, doesn’t let up. Yet Bennett, 62 1/2lbs heavier, wouldn’t go down and shipped all kinds of punishment, lolling around the ring before keeping Babic honest with hopeful pot shots. It was boxing, but not as we know it.

Somehow, the gutsy Bennett (7-2, 1 KO) survived through the fifth round when he was withdrawn by his corner. To add to the pure surreality of the occasion, Babic proposed to his girlfriend in the post-fight interview. She said yes. It was that kind of night.

‘Romford Bull’ Johnny Fisher rolled over Yorkshire’s ‘Big Dawg’ Danny Whitaker inside two rounds as the Essex hope continues his heavyweight apprenticeship.

Fisher (3-0, 3 KOs) wasn’t hanging around, hurting Whitaker with a stiff right hand in the opener before the stark difference in power and vitality was underlined in the next round. In the second, Whitaker (4-4, 0 KOs) was dropped by a right hand and Fisher lamped him again when he was down before cradling his foe in apology. On resumption, a further right decked Whitaker though he hauled himself up for more. But when another right sent Whitaker sagging into the ropes, referee Lee Every intervened.

Former WBA bantamweight title challenger Ebanie Bridges hit too hard for Swindon’s Bec Connolly, forcing a stoppage in the third round.

After working the body early, the purposeful Bridges (6-1, 3 KOs) badly hurt Connolly with an overhand right in the third before dropping her with a clipping right uppercut. Connolly (3-10, 0 KOs) hadn’t recovered from the initial shot and, when Australian Bridges tagged her with another overhand right-hander, referee Kieran McCann made a timely intervention. The popular and improving Bridges is angling for a rematch with WBA champion Shannon Courtenay after their entertaining encounter in April.

In the show-opener, Oldham super-feather Aqib Fiaz (7-0, 0 KOs) was given a stiff argument by Spanish-based Ecuadorian Kevin Baldospino (9-6-2, 1 KO) over eight rounds. Baldospino came with ambition and pushed the prospect all the way, but Fiaz’s crisper combinations and a last round flourish saw him home 77-76 on referee Kieran McCann’s scorecard.

Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.