Burns Beats Katsidis, Groves
& New Star Billy Joe Saunders Shines
By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Guy Fawkes night, or bonfire night as some prefer, is an
explosive celebration with fireworks lighting the evening
skies. With this in mind promoter Frank Warren had declared
that his ‘Gladiators’ event, at the Wembley Arena, would be
an explosive affair. Being a man of his words he delivered
as promised. The three Championship bouts all featured all
action boxers with knockout reputations, as did the
We’ll start with the main event, which see former Super
featherweight World Champion Ricky Burns take on the dreaded
Aussie Brit Basher Michael Katsidis, who as we all know
already beaten both Graham Earl and Kevin Mitchell, for the
interim WBO Lightweight title.
The atmosphere was electric as the build up to the main
event starts, Katsidis team, including former foe Graham
Earl, enter the ring waving huge Australian and Greek flags.
Moments later the crowd erupt as the man himself, donning
Gladiator headgear, starts his ring walk.
Ricky Burns’ entrance was a lot less theatrical, far more
business like. Burns looks a hundred percent focused on the
fight, yet he still manages to acknowledge the huge
following that were cheering his entrance.
Anyway let’s get down to the action, of which there was
ROUND ONE: As expected Katsidis went straight on the attack,
Burns uses his excellent jab to try and keep the marauding
Aussie at bay. The ever forward moving Katsidis goes low as
he backs the Scot on the ropes before letting rip with heavy
flurries of big lefts and rights to the body.
Burns stays calm and times the occasional counter to
perfection before covering up and absorbing yet more big
shots to the body.
Even though Katsidis was clearly throwing the most shots,
Burns occasional counters were by far the most effective
shots thrown in the round. Saying that I still gave this
round to Katsidis.
ROUND TWO: As before it is Katsidis on the attack from the
start, firing double handed combinations as he walks the
Scot back. Burns sticks to his game plan, covering up and
letting rip with the occasional counter. About mid way
through the round the tide suddenly changed as Burns landed
a short uppercut. Katsidis is stunned for the barest
fraction of a second which allowed Burns to fire a vicious
right hook which initially slows the tough Australian enough
for Burns to get back to his jab. Absolutely stunning round
that I scored a draw.
ROUND THREE: Katsidis puts Burns under heavy pressure from
the start, each time the Aussie backs his foe to the ropes
signals the start of yet another massive double handed
onslaught. Burns seems content to absorb and counter. Around
the mid way point, as the pair really go toe to toe BUrns
again sends the head of the Australian back with a cracking
uppercut, the crowd roar and egg Burns on, he doesn’t
disappoint and again lands a vicious uppercut. Katsidis
responds with massive double handed exocets as he backs the
Scot to the ropes yet again.
With about forty seconds or so to go in the round Burns
counters with a massive right that clearly shakes the
Australian, so much so that Burns is able to take control
with his exceptional jab until the final bell. I see this
round clearly in favour of the Scot.
ROUND FOUR: The round starts with some great toe to toe
action, Burns seems to have decided to take the fight to
Katsidis and lands a phenomenal double left combination,
first to the body then the head that stops the Aussie in his
tracks for the merest fraction of a second, before going
back on the double handed attack to push the Scot back onto
the ropes. Another fantastic close round and again even
though Katsidis threw the most punches the quality ones all
came from Burns, so I scored the round in favour of the
ROUND FIVE: Clearly aware that Burns is ahead at this point
Katsidis kicks up the pace, letting rip with massive double
handed flurries. Burns keeps his cool and picks his moments
before countering. For the full three minutes Katsidis would
attack, attack and attack leaving Burns to cover up and
counter whenever the opportunity arose. Still not an easy
round to score but I gave it to Katsidis purely for his
ROUND SIX: Not surprisingly Katsidis initially slowed in the
sixth, whilst still well and truly in attack mode it wasn’t
at quite the high tempo previously seen and hence it was
quite scrappy for the first couple of minutes. Burns worked
his jab to great effect and late on landed a pair of solid
body shots to nick the round.
ROUND SEVEN: Normal service resumes, Katsidis back in full
attacking flow whilst Burns closes shop and countering
whenever the opportunity arose. As in every round previous
it was nonstop action, but the best action see Burns let rip
with another double left to the body and head only to
receive a big right to head in return late in the round. Yet
another close round, which I gave to the Scot just because
he landed the most quality shots.
ROUND EIGHT: Katsidis again steps up the pace and literally
chases Burns around the ring before pinning the Scot against
ropes and letting of massive double handed attacks. Burns
covers up, counters and moves, Katsidis just doesn’t stop
and chases him back into the ropes and the whole process
starts again. It is awesome, Frank Warren promised fireworks
and Katsidis and Burns were providing them...big time. A bit
of an easier round to score, as Katsidis was not just
throwing more shots but easily controlled the round.
ROUND NINE: At a slightly slower pace than the previous
round again sees Burns land a big left to the body to which
Katsidis responds by pushing Burns back onto the ropes and
start his double handed attacks, Burns again just closes
shop and waits for the perfect opening before jabbing or
make a big point scoring counter. Another great all action
round, I scored it in favour of Burns due to the quality of
his counters, and that early big left to the body.
ROUND TEN: Burns sticks to his game plan, covers up and lets
Katsidis attack, the Scot calmly absorbs the nonstop attacks
before, with precision timing, counters or moves out of the
Aussie’s firing range. As throughout Katsidis throws massive
volumes of shots but as the fight has gone on more and more
are getting through the Scots defense. The tenth was yet
another close round, I’m going to give it to Burns as whilst
he landed slightly less scoring punches than Katsidis they
definitely had more venom.
ROUND 11: As we enter the Championship rounds I can’t help
wondering how the judges are scoring this, if it is by
aggression it will be Katsidis ahead on their cards, if it
is quality scoring shots it could be Burns just ahead, then
again if it’s a mix of the two this could well end up a
Anyway back to the fight, Katsidis does what Katsidis does,
attack, attack and attack, and he does it so well. But Burns
is looking totally unflustered, sticking to his game plan of
covering up and waiting for the perfect opening before
countering and getting behind his excellent jab. Another
close all action round, again I scored this in favour of
Burns, but it could so easily have gone the other way.
ROUND 12: What a fabulous round, it was out and out war.
Katsidis goes for it big time, clearly looking for the
knockout finish. Burns though stays calm and uses his jab to
great effect. With around a minute to go the pair lock horns
in a toe to toe slug fest. The crowd are going wild as
Katsidis starts to throw wild shots while Burns stays calm
and counters with some scintillating lefts and rights. What
a cracking final round. Again not the easiest to score but I
favoured Katsidis because he just went for it.
After twelve fabulous rounds I have to admit I wasn’t one
hundred percent certain who the victor would be, judges may
see the scoring differently to those of us watching, anyway
after short wait the scoring was announced - Terry O'Connor
117-112, John Stewart 117-111 and Andre Van Grootenbruel
117-111 all in favour of Coatbridge’s Ricky Burns.
I was a little surprised that the judges had scored it by
such a wide margin - I had Ricky Burns winning by a single
point and many of those in the press corps seated around me
also see it by just the single point or a draw - but either
way it doesn’t matter it was a cracking fight and one that
will shut up the Scot’s doubters for once and all, as
tonight he proved one hundred percent that he is World
The co-feature fight, between British and Commonwealth
Champion George Groves and former British Champ Paul Smith,
followed the headliner.
An edgy start to the round with neither protagonists
seemingly willing to push forward, the first real action
came in the final seconds, when Smith landed a cracking left
hand hook-right hand combination that shook Groves to the
core. Unfortunately for Smith the bell rang before he could
follow up. Purely on the final action I scored the round to
Smith’s supporters remained on their feet to cheer on their
man as the second round started. However Groves got back
behind his jab to easily control the early running, then in
a flash a wickedly fast right sends Smith crashing to the
Smith gets to his feet but is very unsteady, after finishing
the count referee Victor Loughlin restarts the fight, Groves
instantly lets rip with another big right to the temple
sends Smith back down. It’s clear Smith is in no fit state
to continue and Loughlin waves the fight off at the one
minute eighteen mark.
This emphatic win by Hammersmith’s Groves sends a clear
message to both his doubters and arch rival James DeGale,
anything DeGale can do Groves can do better.
Prior to the featured bouts was another cracking fight, as
Southern Area Middleweight Champion Gary Boulden attempted
to defend his title against former Olympian Billy Joe
I say attempted as the Jimmy and Mark Tibbs trained Saunders
was the bookies favourite by a massive margin, and rightly
so as the 22 year old from Hatfield had won his last four
bouts by stoppage finishes, all in under six minutes.
ROUND ONE: Saunders made a confident start and controlled
the first round with ease.
ROUND TWO: Saunders really come into his own,picking off the
champ with fast jabs and double handed salvos. Boulden
occasionally responded with big shots of his own, however
each time he did Saunders just countered back with more
ROUND THREE: See more of the same, Saunders controlling most
of the round with his slick combinations. Boulden manages
some success with his jab and the occasional big right, but
each time southpaw Saunders would just return with
sensational double handed shots of his own.
ROUND FOUR: Saunders lifted the pace again, as well as
adding more power to his shots, to easily control the round
from start to finish.
ROUND FIVE: Boulden had barely landed a punch in the
previous rounds, not so in the fifth. The champ decided to
take the fight to his challenger. Saunders remained calm and
picked his punches before turning up the heat, big time, in
the final minute
ROUND SIX: Boulden was made to pay in the sixth, Saunders
plain dominated the round in every way, so much so that
Boulden started to run around the ring stamping his feet in
frustration. The crowd responded by jeering at his actions,
whilst Saunders just punished him with even more perfectly
ROUND SEVEN: Boulden decided he has to stand his ground,
which produced some great toe to toe action. Saunders seemed
to enjoy this more than Boulden, so much so the
Hertfordshire youngster began showcasing his fully loaded
arsenal of punches, to full effect.
ROUND EIGHT: Boulden had clearly realised it doesn’t pay to
go toe-to-toe with Saunders, so reverted to spoiling
tactics. Saunders was undeterred and just picked his shots
to easily take the round.
ROUND NINE: More of the same, Saunders easily controlling
ROUND TEN: A strong final round from Saunders, blitzing his
way to victory with yet more big left and right hooks
between firing salvos of exocets to the body.
When the final bell rang there was no doubt that there was a
new Champion, Billy Joe Saunders, so no one was surprised
when referee Ken Curtis raised Billy Joe’s hand high. For
reference the score was 99-92.
Saunders rounded out a good night for Team Tibbs and the
TRAD TKO Gym in Canning Town, having not only added yet
another Champion to the squad but also a clean sweep on the
Prior to the championship bouts George Michael Carman faced
Tom Bowen in a storming six rounder.
Carman was clearly the bookies favourite, just nobody told
Bowen. For six rounds the youngster from Sedgley took the
fight to Carman, his work rate was magnificent, round after
round he lead the charge and received little in return.
Even so the first couple of rounds were close, only due to
the cleaner shots from Carman, so much so that I scored them
The third and fourth rounds though were clearly Bowen’s, who
not only kept the pressure up but also landing by far the
more meaningful shots.
The only round I gave to Carman was the fifth, which was a
cracking round featuring some nice action, as the youngster
stood his ground and caught Bowen with a couple of wicked
The final round was a cracker Bowen could smell victory and
really went for it, Carman on the other hand decided to
stand his ground and battle it out. For the full three
minutes the pair when all out looking for a stoppage finish.
When the final bell rang referee Bob Williams went to both
men and raised their arms, declaring the bout a 57-57 draw.
Preceding Carman-Bowen Billy Joe Saunders’ Team Tibbs/TRAD
TKO gym mate Frankie Buglioni made his debut against
Woodford wild man Sabie Monteith.
It was a short lived affair as Enfield’s Buglioni gave his
massive, and very vocal, following reason to celebrate,
firstly by controlling the wildly lashing Monteith with ease
before sending him to the canvas, to secure the win, after
just two minutes and four seconds of the first round.
Prior to the short lived Buglioni-Monteith battle, Cardiff’s
Francis Luke Robinson made his third pro outing against Sid
It’s clear that Robinson, the son of former World Champion
Steve Robinson, is a chip off the old block. From start to
finish the twenty one year old showed a maturity, that
belied his age, to control the highly aggressive Razak from
start to finish. Razak had clearly come to make a fight of
it but the youngster used his head to control the highly
experienced Razak with superior movement and his magnificent
jab. Occasionally Robinson took the fight to Razak and
showcased his skill and arsenal of punches. I had him
winning every single round but the man that counts, referee
Bob Williams scored it 39-37 for Robinson.
The previous bout see the excellent Bradley Skeete against
the wild spoiler in the form of Jay Morris.
Morris came to win, he always does, and made life hard for
the Penge youngster in the early part of the round. Skeete
though is a classy operator and it didn’t take him long to
take control of the proceedings, so much so that for four
rounds he was able to pick off Morris at will to take each
round with ease.
The fight came to an abrupt halt, after just nineteen
seconds of the fifth. Early on Skeete backed Morris onto the
ropes and let rip with massive bombs, Morris was hurt and
covered up in an effort to survive. After Skeete had landed
around a dozen more unanswered big shots referee Ken Curtis
had no option but to step in and stop the fight.
Morris was fuming, he ripped off his gloves and threw them
to the canvas before storming out of the ring much to the
delight of the massive Wembley crowd.
Prior to the entertaining Skeete-Morris bout Darren Cordona
made his debut against Westbury’s Aaron Fox.
Even though he has yet to have a win on his record Aaron Fox
always comes for a fight and as sure as eggs is eggs Cordona
would be subjected to a baptism of fire.
Cordona was well prepared for the expected war, so much so
that he controlled a large part of the contest with relative
ease, often backing up his more experienced opponent onto
the ropes before letting rip with some tidy left-rights.
Personally I had Cordona win each round due to the quality
of his work, but have to admit that a couple of rounds could
have gone either way as Fox is a gutsy battler, so wasn’t
too surprised that referee declared the bout much closer at
39-38 in favour of Cordona.
I arrived just as the final round of first bout of the night
started and as such only got to see three minutes of Gary
Corcoran’s debut win against Billy Smith.
Corcoran, the brother of Light Welter prospect Eddie
Corcoran, was declared victorious by a shut out 40-36 points
margin, much to the delight of coach Mark Tibbs and fellow
gym mates Billy Joe Saunders and Frankie Buglioni.
What a great night of action, it had it all drama,
knockouts, hissy fits and even an against the odds upset.
Promoter Frank Warren promised an explosive all action show
fit for Guy Fawkes night and boy did he deliver.