Boxing


"Prize Fighter" The Tournament - Outsider Martin Rogan Upsets Favourite David Dolan To Win In Final!

By James Slater: Tonight, at The York Hall, Bethnal Green in London, a most unusual boxing event took place. Named Prize Fighter, the tournament featured 8 heavyweights going up against each other in a series of bouts. The winner of each fight progressed to the next level, until there was only two men left - who then boxed each other in the final. In total, tonight's eventual winner fought three times.

This new idea, the brainchild of promoter Barry Hearn, may not have featured any big names, and some of the action was sloppy and crude at times, but the fights were certainly dramatic. Each bout was scheduled for 3X3 minute rounds, and as such the heavyweights involved went right at it at the opening bell, in anxious search as they were for tonight's prize of 25,000 for the winner (approx $ 50,000).

The first fight was certainly a wild affair. Dave Ferguson met Billy Bessey and both men hurled themselves at one another at the opening bell. Bessey may not have looked in exactly great shape, what with his hefty midriff, but he came to fight. Hard. Ferguson caught him with a nice right hand counter in this 1st round, however, sending him to the canvas. Bessey got up but lost the round.

Both men battled it out, mostly while swinging for the fences, throughout rounds 2 and 3. Bessey appeared to have the edge here, as Ferguson looked all spent. But the three judges, after 3 somewhat clumsy but exciting rounds, saw Ferguson a unanimous winner on points. Ferguson was now through to the next stage.

In fight number two, Martin Rogan met Alex Ibbs. This one was pretty much a one sided contest from the start. Ibbs was hurt a few times by the power of Rogan, and was also cut under his right eye. Ibbs was finally sent down courtesy of a right hand upstairs seconds before the bell to end the first round, and he was hurt bad. He beat the count, just as the bell rang, but the writing was on the wall. Sure enough, in the 2nd Rogan got the win. With Ibbs hurt and staggering, referee Phil Edwards dived in to stop it. Time was 47 seconds of the 2nd round. Rogan was now through to the next stage.

In fight three, there was a touch more quality to be seen, at least compared to what had taken place so far. Paul Butlin met Colin Kenna and both men were quite well balanced and more well paced and in better condition than the evening's previous entrants. Still, another good action bout ensued. Both men fought a good opener, before Butlin suddenly caught Kenna with a hard right hand that connected slightly behind his ear. Down Kenna went, badly hurt. He bravely beat the count, but was soon under more pressure and the ref, Marcus McDonnell, dived in. The time was 2 mins and 45 seconds of round number 2. Butlin was now through to the second stage also.

Fight four was the best so far. Betting favourite to win the tournament, the 7-0(3) David Dolan met the huge Darren Morgan. Out-weighed by over 50 pounds, Dolan, who is a former commonwealth gold medal winner, used his superior speed and movement to good effect for most of the fight. Morgan, with his massive bulk, was dangerous, though. This he sure enough proved in round number 2, when he landed a huge left hook to Dolan's head. Badly dazed, the favourite made it through to the end of the second round. Back on his toes and sticking and moving in the 3rd and final round, Dolan closed out an enjoyable contest, in which the differing styles of both men meshed to entertaining effect. Dolan went through to the next stage with a unanimous verdict from the three judges.

Now it was on to the semi-finals.

In fight five, Dave Ferguson and Martin Rogan met, as they both had their second bout of the tournament. Both guys gave their all over the full three rounds, but it was Rogan who was the fresher fighter overall. Both men were actually unbeaten as pros going into this bout, and the pride and desire was evident from each. Rogan's pressure got him his place in the final, as he collected a shut-out UD from the three judges.

In fight six, the second semi-final, favourite David Dolan met Paul Butlin. This bout was no contest, as Dolan's superior speed, technique and ability were simply too much for the game Butlin. Moving well and looking classy as he fired out fast combinations and jabs, Dolan looked a clear winner, as he was indeed on the three judges' cards. Going through to the final via a shut-out, Dolan would now meet the tough, and also undefeated, Martin Rogan.

Fight seven - The Final!

Dolan Vs. Rogan.

In round one, Rogan, aged 36 and hailing from Belfast, came at Dolan, age 28 and from Sunderland, like a man possessed! A right hand to the head sent Dolan down and the war was one. Up quite quickly, Dolan was under fierce pressure as Rogan went for the finish. Was a huge upset KO on the cards? A head clash caused a nasty cut over Rogan's left eye, but he continued to blaze away with both hands. This sheer aggression, along with the knockdown, clearly won Rogan the round.

In the 2nd, Dolan attempted to get his boxing skills going. He was partially successful, but the tough Rogan would not let him box his kind of fight for long. The action was bordering on sensational at times, and both men were hurt in this round. Dolan may have just shaded the 2nd. One thing was clear, the best fight of the whole evening had been saved for last!

The 3rd and final round now. Rogan struck quickly yet again, and decked a shocked Dolan for a second time! Again it was a right hand that did it. The younger man beat the count for the second time, but now had to know he was way behind on points. Dolan gritted his teeth and really battled hard in a bid to score a KO, or at least a knockdown, of his own. Both men finished the fight swinging hard punches, and the crowd finished the night on their feet. A great final fight had been thoroughly enjoyed.

When the judges tallied up the points it was revealed that the big upset had indeed occurred, as betting outsider Rogan had snatched the winner's trophy and prize money. The rock-hard 36 year old, who improved his record to 10-0(5) with the win, had well earned it, too. The final scores were 29-25, 29-27 and 28-27, all to Rogan. Dolan, a huge favourite coming in, was crushingly disappointed. He will surely be back, however.

All in all, a great night's boxing was witnessed tonight. Promoter Barry Hearn must be applauded for trying something new. As for the boxers involved, all eight of them should also be congratulated. The efforts of the fighters tonight, especially those of the upset winner in Martin Rogan, were truly something.

Article posted on 12.04.2008



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