By Jack Heather, photos by Michael Ault – Ijaz Ahmed and Marcel Braithwaite fought to a split draw in an incredible back-and-forth contest over 12 rounds on BCB’s March Mayhem at Dudley Town Hall on Friday evening (17th March)
The vacant British and Commonwealth super flyweight titles were on the line as both men looked to cement their place in the history books.
It was the first time a British title had been contested in Dudley for over three decades.
The iconic Lonsdale belt had been absent since Crawford Ashley defeated Roy Skelton for the light heavyweight title at the same venue in July 1991.
Birmingham’s Ahmed was denied a hometown victory in front of his family and friends, live on BCB’s YouTube channel.
‘Jazzy’ was originally scheduled to take on long-time rival, Quaise Khademi for a fourth time but when Khademi withdrew, it was Braithwaite who stepped in at three weeks’ notice.
The Liverpudlian’s previous attempt at the title ended in a unanimous decision loss to now-IBF world champion, Sunny Edwards.
But a victory over Ahmed in the unpaid ranks served as reassurance that ‘The Chosen One’ could go one better this time round and the 28-year-old made an assured start.
The opening rounds were won convincingly by Braithwaite as he landed the cleaner, more eye-catching shots, and hurt Ahmed with a left hook midway through the third round.
But Ahmed was not to be denied and his relentless pressure started to pay dividends in the later rounds as the scouser tired.
‘Jazzy’ was controversially denied a knockdown in the eight-round after referee John Latham ruled that Braithwaite had slipped.
Both men continued to trade hard shots into the championship rounds and much to the dismay of both sets of supporters; judges Mark Lyson (114-115 Braithwaite), Kevin Parker (114-114) and Terry O’Connor (117-11 Ahmed) ruled the contest a split-draw.
Ryan Griffiths-Paul Cummings
Dudley’s Ryan Griffiths beat veteran Paul Cummings over four rounds on his professional debut in his hometown on BCB’s March Mayhem.
The super welterweight contender won every round on Kevin Parker’s scorecard and ran out the 40-36 winner at Dudley Town Hall.
Griffiths was by no means overawed by the occasion and settled any remaining nerves with a confident showing in the opening round, rattling off a lightning-fast combination to start proceedings.
The 22-year-old did push for a stoppage in the final round, but the experienced Cummings held on to see the final bell.
Griffiths works as a shift manager at Tesco Express in Kidderminster and had a prosperous unlicensed run that ended with 22 wins and only two defeats.
The former WKU Commonwealth kickboxing champion made the switch to boxing in search of titles and made a successful start to life as a professional in his first bout.
Zach Evans-MJ Hall
Droitwich’s Zach Evans impressed on his professional debut as he outpointed veteran MJ Hall over four rounds at welterweight on BCB’s March Mayhem at Dudley Town Hall.
Evans dominated proceedings from the opening bell and won every round on his maiden voyage in the paid ranks, running out the 40-36 victor on Kevin Parker’s scorecard.
The 25-year-old had a successful kickboxing career and wants to emulate his title triumphs in the boxing ring.
He now trains out of Priory Amateur Boxing Club, a stone’s throw from the venue itself, under the guidance of Mitchell Pearce.
The BCB promotions managed fighter showcased an impressive arsenal of shots and tidy footwork as he cruised to a debut win in front of his family and friends.
But it was fellow Black Country native Hall that was celebrated after the final bell as he reached an impressive milestone, a century of professional bouts.
The Brierley Hill resident received a warm reception whilst accepting an award from the Midlands Area Board to commemorate his achievement.
Liam Gould-Petar Aleksandrov
Coseley’s Liam Gould moved to 3-0 as he defeated experienced Bulgarian Petar Aleksandrov over four rounds on BCB’s March Mayhem at Dudley Town Hall.
The super welterweight contender was disappointed with his performance last time out but made a much better showing against Aleksandrov in the second fight of the night.
Aleksandrov fought to a draw against fellow undefeated BCB prospect Shannon Willey last weekend, but Gould allowed for no such result as he dominated the contest and won every round on Kevin Parker’s scorecard.
Gould was seconds away from forcing the maiden stoppage of his fledgling career in the final round as he stunned Aleksandrov with a right hand that buckled the knees of the 31-fight veteran.
It was not to be as the 25-year-old Bulgarian used his wealth of experience to survive the remainder of the round and see the final bell for the fourth consecutive time.
Gould is yet to lose a round as a professional and continues to build on a successful amateur career that saw him win 19 from 27 boxing out of William Perry ABC.
The 24-year-old Gould continues his steady progress in the paid ranks under the tutelage of his uncle and trainer, Jimmy Gould.