Undefeated top-ten rated Light-Heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi scored a hard- fought eleventh round knockout over Ricards Bolotniks on Saturday night at Matchroom Headquarters in Brentwood, England. In what was billed an an elimination bout for the WBA Light-Heavyweight world championship, the two fighters engaged each other in close quarters from the outset. This scenario saw several exchanges between the two fighters with Buatsi generally getting the better of the action due largely to his edge in hand speed. Bolotniks however, was able to provide Buatsi with a level of resistance that he had not experienced before in being able to extend the fight.
Buatsi dropped Bolotniks with a perfectly timed left hook to the jaw in a short exchange of hooks in round six. Despite going down hard and being hurt, Bolotniks was able to get up from the knockdown, survive the round, and continue to put up a fight in the rounds that followed. In round eight, Buatsi was penalized a point for low blows by Referee Howard Foster as some attempted hooks to Bolotniks’ body landed below the belt line. What became a war of attrition saw Bolotniks land some solid hooks of his own and managed to keep the fight competitive in the process. In round eleven however, Buatsi as he has become known for ended the fight in brutal and dramatic fashion as he dropped an exhausted Bolotniks with a flush overhand right to the head that sent the very “Game” Bolotniks down face first in his corner. The bout was immediately stopped without a count. Official time of the stoppage was 2:08 of round eleven. Joshua Buatsi advances to 15-0, with 13 Knockouts. Ricards Bolotniks falls to 18-6-1, with 8 Knockouts.
Also on this card:
Unbeaten Lightweight Joe Cordina scored a first round knockout of Joshuah Hernandez. Cordina dropped Hernandez with an overhand right that came from behind a jab that sent Hernandez down on his back. Hernandez tried, but he was unable to beat the count. Official time of the stoppage was :53 of round one. Joe Cordina advances to 13-0, with 8 Knockouts. Joshuah Hernandez falls to 10:4, with 8 Knockouts.
Undefeated WBO number four rated Welterweight contender Michael McKinson scored a one-sided ten round unanimous decision over Przemyslaw Runowski. McKinson put on a display of Boxing skill from the opening bell, picking his shots and frankly not facing much resistance. If there was anything to criticize, it is perhaps that McKinson may have been able to get a stoppage if he had chose to press the issue. Official scores were 99-91 (On two scorecards), and 98-92 all in favor of McKinson. Michael McKinson advances to 21-0, with 2 Knockouts. Przemyslaw Runowski falls to 19-2, with 5 Knockouts.
In a clash of unbeaten Jr. Featherweights Hopey Price scored a six round decision over previously undefeated Claudio Grande. A competitive fight in spots, Price’s angles and timed counter punches proved to be the difference in the bout. In the closing seconds of the fight, Price dropped Grande with a perfectly timed counter left hook to the jaw as Grande was rushing forward. Grande went down hard and one might argue that had it not been at the end of the fight, the possibility of the fight being stopped was there. Grande was able to beat the count at the final bell. As all non-title bouts in the United Kingdom and Ireland that do not have an impact on the regional or world rankings are solely scored by the referee officiating a bout, Referee Mark Bates scored the bout 58-55 in favor of Price. Hopey Price advances to 5-0, with 1 Knockout. Claudio Grande falls to 5-1, with 3 Knockouts.
Former British Bantamweight champion Kash Farooq scored a ten round unanimous decision over Luis Castillo. Farooq used superb lateral movement, hand speed, and timing to out box the heavy-handed Castillo over ten rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory. Although Castillo was able to land some hard shots particularly with his left hook sporadically, he was not able to nullify Farooq’s ability to get his punches off first and limit his openings. Official scores were: 100-90 (On two scorecards), and 100-91 in favor of Farooq. Kash Farooq advances to 16-1, with 6 Knockouts. Luis Castillo falls to 28-3, with 18 Knockouts.
Undefeated Featherweight prospect Raymond Ford scored a third round stoppage of former Commonwealth Featherweight champion Reece Bellotti. The first two rounds saw the fighters trade punches in an effort to establish control. In round three however, Ford connected with a short right hook that set off a barrage of unanswered punches that forced referee Michael Alexander to stop the fight. Official time of stoppage was :39 of round three. Raymond Ford advances 9-0-1, with 5 Knockouts. Reece Bellotti falls to 14-5, with 12 Knockouts.
Jr. Featherweight Zelfa Barrett began the evening by scoring a fifth round stoppage over veteran Viorel Simion. Barrett gradually broke Simion down with a steady flow of offense to the body and head. After five rounds of mostly one way punishment, Simion’s corner stopped the fight at the conclusion of round five, Zelfa Barrett advances to 26-1, with 16 Knockouts. Viorel Simion falls to 22-7, with 9 Knockouts.
The finale of the 2021 season of Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camp series was very much in the spirit of what the series, which was born in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic, to provide “No Easy Fights” for the fighters involved, which depending on one’s perspective obviously depends on an individual fighter’s performance. More importantly however, the series achieved its ultimate goal, to continue providing competitive fights and entertaining action for Boxing fans in the midst of ongoing difficult and uncertain times. While this series was born out of necessity as a means for promoter Eddie Hearn to remain active when much of the world including sporting arenas were shut down due to the circumstances of COVID-19, as this observer said in previewing the first week of the season, though born out of necessity, the groundwork has been laid for what should be an annual tradition on the Matchroom Boxing calendar. I for one look for to seeing how the series evolves in season 3.
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