The King Is Dead, Long Live The King
By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Last night boxing fans from all over the country converged
on York Hall for the season finale of the highly successful,
Matchroom Sports promoted, Prizefighter series and boy were
they treated to a show full of intrigue, drama, controversy
and most importantly plenty of world class action.
The bookies had expected former World champions, and former
foes, Junior Witter and Colin Lynes to meet in the final,
well they were half right as Junior Witter made it all the
way and faced London based Moroccan the Showman himself -
Yassine El Maachi.
So the scene was set King of the ring Junior Witter against
the man many thought of as a pretender to the throne Yassine
El Maachi. Before we get to final here is a quick review of
how they got there.
Quarter Final 1 - Kevin McIntyre Vs. John Wayne Hibbert
The opening bout of the night see former British Champion
Kevin McIntyre against unbeaten prospect John Wayne Hibbert.
It started out as quite a scrappy affair, but settled down
once Hibbert slowed his pace instead of rushing in wildly.
McIntyre’s southpaw stance was causing the Essex youngster
all kinds of problems, which see him easily picked off by
the far more experienced Scot.
McIntyre championship stature really came to the fore,
whereas Hibbert would rush in lunging, McIntyre stayed calm
and collected and was taking the early rounds easily with
his clean, crisp and accurate punching.
A great final round for Hibbert, who plain worked his socks
off in an attempt to turn the tide in his favour. At one
point he forced McIntyre back on to the ropes with a flurry
of straight shots, he also landed a couple of excellent head
shots and a cracking short hook to the body. Don’t get me
wrong it wasn’t all one way traffic, anything but as
McIntyre landed a series of punishing big scoring uppercuts
and body shots.
The judges each scored the bout 29-28 in favour of Kevin
Quarter Final 2 - Junior Witter Vs. Nathan Graham
Round one of the second quarter final starts with a short
sharp exchange of jabs between the protagonists. As both
settle down former World Champion Junior Witter starts to
dictate the pace with razor sharp jabs and uppercuts, of
which almost all catching the Graham as he closes in. Graham
shows guts and determination but as most of the meaningful
punches came from Witter I scored this round to the former
Round two sees the patented Witter distraction strategy come
into play, waving his leading hand Witter switches to
southpaw briefly before lunging in with big shots to the
body or double handed attacks. Witter toys with the less
experienced Graham and picks him off regularly with vicious
body shots. Another clear round for Witter.
Graham steps up the pressure in the third round but gets
regularly caught by some powerful countering from Witter.
Keeping up the pressure Graham lands some excellent straight
rights, but Witter soon regains control and keeps Graham at
distance and just picks him off at will. No surprise that
Witter gets the nod from all three judges, by a 30-28
(twice) and 29-28 margin.
Quarter Final 3 - Colin Lynes Vs. Bobby Gladman
It was a real cagy start between the two TKO gym fighters in
their quarter final meeting, most of the first round
consisting of jabs with a couple of combinations thrown in
for good measure. As the round progressed former World Champ
Colin Lynes started to exert his authority, on his less
experienced gym mate Bobby Gladman, with flurries of shots
to the body and head. Gladman held his own and countered
with stiff jabs and the occasional right. I see this as
Lynes’ round but only by a very close margin.
A much brisker start to the second round which see Gladman
in a much more fighty mode, letting rip with some neat
combinations and stronger jabs. The only problem for Gladman
was Lynes countered with crisper, sharper combinations.
During one of the later exchanges Lynes visibly shakes the
youngster with a vicious body shot and then a little later
catches Gladman with a beautiful uppercut followed by a hook
to the head. Easy round to call in favour of the former
More of the same in the third round until Gladman catches
Lynes on the chin with an uppercut. After a short clinch it
was back to the boxing, with Lynes in full control. Gladman
tried to give as good as he took but Lynes’ greater
experience see him easily control the bout. The final bit of
real action see Gladman on the receiving end of a punishing
hook to the body followed by a hook, cross, hook to the
No one was surprised when the judges scorecards showed Colin
Lynes the winner by a unanimous 30-27 points margin.
Quarter Final 4 - Yassine El Maachi vs. Peter McDonagh
In the build up to their match up there had been many verbal
exchanges between Peter McDonagh and Yassine El Maachi, one
thing was clear from this McDonagh was determined to rattle
El Maachi as much as possible, so it came as no surprise
that McDonagh takes the fight to El Maachi. Big mistake, El
Maachi calmly picks McDonagh off each time he would charge
As the round progressed El Maachi starts to take the
‘Connemara Kid’ apart with crunching upper cuts and hooks to
the head. McDonagh lands a few shots but El Maachi just
shakes them off and begins punishing him again. No doubt the
first blood, sorry round, goes to the Moroccan.
More of the same in the second and third, about the only
difference is McDonagh goes on the back foot as El Maachi
chases him around the ring trying to finish the fight early.
Whilst this may sound like it was all one way traffic it
wasn’t McDonagh showed so much heart as he tried to wrestle
control from El Maachi, just El Maachi was far too strong
and savvy. Again no surprise El Maachi was declared the
winner by 29-28 (twice) and 30-27 points margin.
Semi Final 1 - Junior Witter Vs. Kevin McIntyre
Witter starts strongly, using swift fluid motion culminating
in some neat combinations and ‘Witter’ style jabbing until
McIntyre catches him with a wicked cross. Witter does what
Witter does, great movement and distraction tactics until
the opportunity arrives for him to attack, fast and with
punishing combustion lands a vicious hook to the body,
McIntyre sinks to his knees and takes the count. For the
rest of the round Witter targets the body, dishing as much
punishment as possible. Each punch landed clearly hurts the
tough Scot but doesn’t put him down for a second time. Easy
round to call - Witter.
Starting off the second where the first finished Witter goes
for the body without too much success so changes tack and
starts letting rip with uppercuts and hooks to the head and
body whenever the opportunity presents itself. It wasn’t all
one way traffic, McIntyre catches Witter with a cracking
left that drives the former champ back to the the ropes,
before McIntyre can take full advantage Witter amazingly
finds a little space, counters and moves out of harms way.
More of the same in the third, other than a change of stance
and plenty of showboating it was business as usual for the
former WBC champion. I personally see it as three clear
rounds for Witter, one of the judges felt the same and
scored it 30-27, whilst the other two see it 29-27 for
Semi Final 2 - Colin Lynes Vs. Yassine El Maachi
El Maachi starts the round aggressively and takes Lynes back
to the ropes, but fails to capitalise. Lynes keeps his head
and boxes in a neat and tidy way, picking off the rushing El
Maachi with ease at times. As the round progress El Maachi
starts to get a bit ragged and messy, between the clinching
lets rip with wild rangy shots, of which very few actually
make any contact. Lynes remains calm throughout . It was a
hard round to call so I called it even, the judges could
easily see it in favour of either of them.
Lynes changes tactics for the second instead of trying to
box the highly unorthodox switch hitting El Maachi he turns
the pressure up, forcing the Moroccan onto the back foot
with flurries of punches and then grabbing hold before El
Maachi can counter. Whilst this was the main feature of the
round there were some excellent exchanges. The best of these
was when Lynes landed a solid hook to the head of El Maachi
and then followed up with a cracking body shot.
Round three see more of the same flurry-clinch tactics from
Lynes dominate the round. Again there were some excellent
exchanges , the best of these see El Maachi and Lynes
simultaneously throw hooks. In another El Maachi powers to
the body and in another Lynes forces El Maachi back onto the
ropes with crunching combination to the body.
At the end of the bout my instant reaction was that Colin
Lynes had won two rounds clear, with the first round so
close it could go to either of them. I thought the tactics
employed by Lynes’ coach Jimmy Tibbs were sublime and had
surely earned Colin his second Prizefighter final place and
a date with old foe Junior Witter. One judge agreed and
scored the bout 30-28 to Lynes but the other two scored it
29-28 in favour of Yassine El Maachi.
Final - Junior Witter Vs. Yassine El Maachi
Due to Witter and El Maachi both having a similar style
those in the know had predicted that the final would be
horrible to watch, and to a degree they were right, but
there was plenty of action and drama to make up for some of
the messier and plain boring times.
First round was an untidy affair, plenty of posturing and
wrestling interspersed with a little boxing. Most of the
good work and meaningful punches came from El Maachi,
including a flurry of punches that culminated in a shot to
the head that sent Witter to the canvas, only to be waved
off by the referee as a slip. Not to be deterred El Maachi
just got back to business and again catches Witter with a
solid hook to the temple as the Bradford man rushes in.
The best way to describe the second round is an untidy
brawl, it was a mess. Both fighters spent the majority of
the round holding and shoving. It was a hard round to score
as neither had done anything worth scoring!
El Maachi get his shots under control again in the third and
catches Witter with a sharp cross hook. During one of the
increasingly frequent wrestling sessions Witter receives a
cut over the right eye and then shortly after during yet
another wrestling session Witter flips the Moroccan over his
hip and to the canvas. El Maachi’s responds with some wild
and erratic shots that fail to make any contact, but soon
calms down and attempts to take some control of the round by
gesturing to Witter to come in.
The next bit of real action causes huge concern to many
present, during a rushed attack El Maachi sidesteps and
Witter is sent of balance and through the ropes, where he
crashes into a Sky cameraman before hitting the floor.
Witter is straight up and back into the ring to everyone’s
Normal service resumes with minimal action between the
ubiquitous wrestling, during one exchange El Maachi catches
Witter flush on the chin and in another Witter is sent to
the canvas, again it was a punch that sent him down, albeit
on the back of the head this time so quite rightly waved
off. Both resumed where they left off until the final bell.
After a short delay MC John McDonald reads the scorecards
out, one judge sees the bout as a 29-29 draw and both the
other judges called it 29-28 in favour of Yassine El Maachi.
So there we have it, it may not have been a classic
encounter but either way former ring King Junior Witter is
deposed and a new King has been crowned - Long live King
Yassine El Maachi.