WITH an exhibition of class boxing, Commonwealth Gold medallist Charlie Flynn made a highly successful debut as a professional fighter at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow last night.
Having just turned 21, Flynn completely outclassed Ibrar Riyaz from Reading, winning all four rounds. The mailman from Wishaw delivered just as he said he would.
“I would only give myself seven out of ten for that performance,” said Flynn, the Lanarkshire Lip with the cheeky grin. “But I loved every minute of it.”
Riyaz is a journeyman who is strong and durable and helps educate young boxers. Everyone knew he was in Glasgow to give Flynn a start while perhaps teaching the youngster some professional tricks, but in the end it was a masterclass from the Scot.
Once Flynn realised the Englishman’s chin was not going to be hung out for hitting, he contented himself with unleashing a ceaseless barrage of punches, in effect turning the contest into a spar with menace, and indeed he cut Riyaz with a left hook in the fourth round.
It was not the stoppage win that the Glasgow crowd had been wanting, but they are a knowledgeable lot and came away knowing they had seen a future professional champion.
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Trainer Peter Harrison, father of former world champion Scott, said it all afterwards: “He’s shown that he can go all the way, and by that I mean world titles.”
Equally if not more impressive was the debut of Joe Ham, the five times Scottish amateur bantamweight champion who reached the quarter-finals of the Commonwealth Games only to lose to the highly-rated Qais Ashfaq of England.
The son of Hayfield ABC founder and coach Joe Ham took just 64 seconds to establish his credentials as a professional, knocking out David Kvaratskhelia of Georgia with a stunning body punch.
The Georgian was still wincing even as Ham did his first interviews as a professional.
“Everybody I get in the ring with, I am going to try and take them out,” said Ham. “If I catch you with that punch there is nothing you can do.”
Stewart Burt, the man who didn’t make it to the Commonwealth Games boxing team, also made a successful professional debut on the undercard.
Burt won his first paid welterweight contest by three rounds to one over the brave Fonz Alexander from Newark in Nottinghamshire.
Looking composed for most of the four rounds, though Alexander did catch him with the odd hook, the man from Newton Mearns will have learned a lot from this first outing. His punching was accurate but the upright stance of an amateur allowed him to be hit too often.
Earlier a disgraceful hometown decision robbed Bristol boxer Omran Akbari of victory over local fighter Scott Allan.
Allan attacked Akbari at first, but the heavier Englishman – a full lightweight - kept the super-feathwerweight from Shotts at range, and late in the third round unleashed a pinpoint uppercut that had Allan in serious trouble, so much so that he rolled painfully back to his corner at the bell.
He survived to the fourth round when Akbari unleashed a peach of a body shot that had Allan gasping and briefly on the floor. Trainee referee Gerry O’Neill failed to call a mandatory eight standing count and ruled that it had been a slip, to the amazement of those at ringside who clearly heard Allan’s exclamation of pain.
By the end of the final round, Akbari, who is at the beginning of his career and had won his first two fights, was clearly well on top despite a cut beside his right eye.
When the ring announcer called it 39-38 for Allan, there was disbelief in most parts of the hall, with judge Kenny Pringle making the call in Allan’s favour. He will never get a luckier decision, and this sort of verdict does boxing in Glasgow no favours. Certainly Akbari’s cornerman was furious at the verdict and on the way out, several members of the audience told the Englishman he had been robbed.
The boxing was scheduled to start after the dinner at 9pm, but one crass idiot, or perhaps more, spoiled the evening for many people by switching table lists and names before the meal, presumably as some sort of joke, causing confusion in the Grand Ballroom.
The organisers worked hard to sort out the problems, but there was a long delay in proceedings.
The first bout of the evening featured young super-featherweight southpaw Jamie McGuire against the durable journeyman Youssef Al-Hamidi from Dewsbury in Yorkshire.
McGuire hails from Drumchapel and had good support in the audience as he advanced his record to two victories from two fights, winning all four rounds.
At 25, McGuire is perhaps a late starter in the pro ranks, but he has made a good start to his career and was never in trouble against Al-Hamidi.
Jon Slowey from Glasgow made a successful comeback from his defeat by Kris Hughes, though he made hard work of beating Simas Volosinas of Lithuania. The 39-38 verdict in the featherweight bout was just about right.
No such trouble for Glasgow lightweight Ryan Smith, however, as he won all four rounds against Lee Connelly of Killamarsh to take his record to four wins our of four.
The night belonged to Flynn, Ham and Burt, however. Scotland has three worthy recruits to the professional ranks and the question is who will be the first to a title – the money must be on the mailman delivering that.
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