Sunday, 17 January 2010

Friday Fight Night - Chesire Review - Rob Norton vs David Dolan

This week's Friday night entertainment was supplied by Ricky Hatton's "Hatton Promotions".

The main event of this evening saw British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight (200lb) champion Rob Norton (32(19)-4(1)-1) face off against David Dolan (13(5)-2(0)-0). In terms of age, Norton will be 38 years old in as little as five days time, whereas Dolan comes in to the fight at a comparatively sprightly 30 years of age.

This fight is a rematch from when the two paired off a year earlier, in a sloppy-yet-thrilling affair that saw a few knockdowns but nothing particularly strong or decisive. The same could be said of tonight's battle, although there were no official knockdowns awarded (a couple of pull-downs and shoves aside).

Norton seemed easily in control of the fight in the early round, using every tactic under the sun, from hugging to taunting, to keep the tempo in check and Dolan at bay. Although he was landing few punches himself, Norton simply waited on Dolan to charge recklessly forward, then picked him off with some good counterpunches before clinching yet again. This was the general pace of the first half of the fight, although there was one solitary entertaining departure in Round 3, when Norton simply backed himself into a neutral corner and allowed Dolan to throw punch after punch, proving he could take all his opponent could dish out.

Fast-forward to Round 8, and just when it seemed Norton would execute his own version of Ali's infamous rope-a-dope technique, Dolan suddenly came alive, throwing combinations and jabs, and proving that it was indeed the older Norton who had run out of steam. The champion did, however, manage to hold his own until the end, fighting back against the onslaught of punches. However, by the final bell the champ did seem to be on his last legs. Had it been a 15 round affair, I feel Dolan may have won comfortably.

As it stood, with a strong-but-messy first half display, the champion retained, the judges scoring the fight 116-113 Norton, 115-114 Dolan, and 114-114 DRAW, making the official judgement a draw and Norton retaining his titles. Both fighters were courteous in their post-fight interview, each sharing the view that the fight was close but that they each felt they had done enough to prove themselves the winner. Norton in particular retained his sense of confidence, flashing his brilliant smile and asking "is that it?" of the reporter.

In British rankings, Norton remains at 3rd for the division, Dolan a close 4th.

Norton, the champ.

On the undercard, another rematch took place between Middleweights (160lb) 24yr old Cello Renda (18(11)-8(5)-0) and 36yr old Paul Samuels (20(12)-7(4)-2). Last time these two faced off, it was an exciting bout featuring a very rare boxing occurrence - a double knockdown. This time around, things were less fantastic but certainly thrilling. Renda suffered early, Samuels causing him severe nose damage (possibly broken), leaving the younger man to deal with a lot of bleeding throughout the fight, as well as suffering an early knockdown. However, Renda recovered remarkably around Round 4 of this 8 rounder.

With Samuels visibly running out of steam and power, Renda managed to catch him with a fantastic hook that sent the elder man to the floor. Both boxers gave their all in the final 4 rounds, with the referee awarding the fight to Samuels without hesitation. I personally found it a lot harder to score, and feel I would have gave it to Renda on the night.

Hopefully we will see these two fight at least one more time, as their styles certainly seem perfectly matched to each other.

All in all, this was a decent night of entertainment showcased from Hatton Promotions, a great start to the domestic year. There weren't a lot of fights on offer, no "big" names, but what we there were some great quality fights with rich history behind them. There was also an opportunity for Ricky Hatton to present his reasoning behind his announcement to "come back" for at least one more fight and, although it may seem ludicrous on paper, his reasons for wanting to return to the ring were actually rather sound. Here's hoping he has a successful training session and, providing he is showing all the right moves and making the right weights, I wish him all the luck in the world for his next fight.

I'm putting out my prediction here - June 5th, Ricky Hatton vs Timothy Bradley for the WBO Jr Welterweight (140lb) title, in Manchester. Let's see if I'm right come summer.

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