Williams Topples Norton, Walsh
Dominates Richards & Skeete Impresses
Report & Photos By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
On Friday night, at the
excellent Francis and George Warren’s Queensberry
Promotions event at York Hall in Bethnal Green, the pack
house were treated to a great night of pugilistic
action. The slickly produced show had it all, world
class boxing, a knockout, oodles of drama and the
dethroning of the Cruiserweight King, as Leon ‘Solid’
Williams achieved what many thought would be impossible,
when he snatched the Lonsdale belt from long time holder
Rob Norton’s iron grip.
Williams-Norton wasn’t a classic fight by a long way,
Norton’s awkward southpaw counter punching style ensured
that, but it was an intriguing, and at times highly
Right from the off it was clear that Williams plan was
to to play the long game, out of the window had gone the
‘devil may care’ I’m gonna knock him out or get knocked
out mindset, instead the 27 year old from Streatham took
a much calmer, slow approach.
The early rounds were edgy, to put it mildly, it was
like a poker game with neither man willing to show his
hand too early. There was some good action but each time
it looked like a proper battle was set to erupt Norton’s
ring savvy would come into play, at times he’d just paw
away at fresh air to keep Williams at bay, but should
the youngster get through the wily old fox from
Stourbridge would just grab hold until referee Terry
O’Connor pulled them apart.
Both Williams’ co-trainers, Johnny Eames and Barry
Smith, were clearly getting exasperated, as were the
crowd and the referee, as each time their young charge
instigated an exchange he was thwarted by Norton’s
Just prior to the start of the fourth Johnny Eames could
be heard instructing Williams to up the pace and keep
the pressure on Norton. With the instructions fresh in
his mind Williams shot from the corner the instant the
bell rang, closed down his target and let rip, landing a
cracking right hand. The crowd jumped to their feet
screaming ‘Solid, Solid, Solid, in unison.
Williams responded, in kind, but the action was short
lived as Norton just tied him up again to slow the fight
back to his pace.
Throughout the middle rounds each time Williams tried to
lift the pace the same would happen, Norton would either
use his superior reach advantage, pawing, to keep
Williams at bay or just grab hold and walk Williams back
onto the ropes.
Williams again kicked up the pace in the sixth and
seventh, receiving intermittent success letting off some
neat combinations before Norton would resort to spoiling
My thoughts at the time was that this was the real
turning point, it seemed Norton’s age was coming into
play and Williams, some twelve years younger, was
seemingly in the ascension.
More of the same in rounds eight and nine and Norton was
beginning to look uncomfortable as each ‘Solid’ attack
started to take it’s toll. I couldn’t help but think
that this was the beginning of the end of Norton’s title
Then again maybe not, as in round ten Norton changed
tactics, allowing Williams to back him on the ropes and
let rip with powerful flurries of shots, most of which
Norton would just dip and dive to avoid. Each time
Williams would step back Norton showboated by either
calling him back in or leaning back in the corner with
his arms spread across the ropes.
Now into the Championship rounds. Round eleven was quite
a lively affair at times, but yet again anytime Williams
tried to instigate any meaningful attacks Norton would
stifle him. This lead to Williams trying to pick his
shots before moving out of range, but each time he came
forward their was a big glove waving in front of him.
Williams’ corner, and promoter Francis Warren, told Leon
to throw caution to the wind for the final round, it was
close and a good final round was likely to clinch the
bout in his favour. Not needing to be told a second time
Williams went for it, but so did Norton. The final three
minutes were probably the best of the whole fight, it
definitely had the most action.
When the final bell rang
both protagonists threw their arms in the air before
turning to hug each other. The wait for the judges
scorecards to be read seemed endless but eventually MC
Mike Goodall spoke, declaring the match a split decision
in favour of Williams by 116-114 (Richie Davies),
114-115 (John Keane) and 116-113 (Ian John-Lewis).
Prior to Williams-Norton
the vacant English Super Bantamweight title was
contested by Cromer’s Ryan Walsh and Melksham’s Liam
In total contrast to the headliner Walsh-Richards was
nonstop scintillating back and forth action for the full
30 minutes. I’m not joking every single round was a
cracker as these two warriors came prepared for war.
At the end of the ten hard fought rounds Walsh was
declared the new English Champion, by a huge margin
100-90 (Richie Davies) 99-91 (Ian John-Lewis) and 100-90
(Terry O'Connor) but that doesn’t give a one hundred
percent accurate picture of the fight by a long shot,
I’m not arguing the judges score, as yes Walsh won every
round, as he boxed superbly, in my book too, but it was
far from one way traffic.
They say it takes two to Tango well it also takes two to
make a great fight and as such Richards deserves to be
praised for his part in this sensational battle. On
Friday night we see there’s the heart of a Lion beating
inside that tiny frame.
Preceding the excellent
Walsh-Richardson see Ireland’s Dean ‘Irish Lightning’
Byrne, in his first outing on British soil, against
Edmonton’s Michael Frontin.
Byrne has an excellent pedigree, unbeaten in fourteen
and became the New South Wales State Light Welterweight
Champion on only his fourth fight. So when I see this
match up I have to admit I thought the fight wouldn’t go
past three rounds - well I was wrong.
It was a bit of an edgy start but it didn’t take Byrne
long to show his class and easily took the early rounds,
although he didn’t have it all his way. Frontin showed
heart and often took the fight to Byrne.
Byrne boxed beautifully throughout but never really
seemed to get a handle on the tough London based
Mauritian. Frontin grew in stature as the bout
progressed and was holding his own whenever the battle
intensified, in fact not just holding his own, as at
times he rattled the Irishman with big looping rights at
least once each round.
No surprise that at the end of the eight hard fought
rounds referee Ian John-Lewis declared Byrne the winner,
or that it was by a 78-74 points margin.
On the off-TV section
Penge’s ‘Super’ Bradley Skeete got to strut his stuff
against Scunthorpe’s Steve Spence in a four rounder.
What a cracking fight, right from the off Spence went
for centre ground but novice Skeete, in only his fourth
pro bout, wasn’t willing to concede a single millimeter
to the more experienced man.
Skeete boxed beautifully throughout and just plain
outclassed Spence to earn a much deserved 40-36 points
A rematch, between Liam
Shinkwin and ‘Rockin’ Robin Deakin preceded the cracking
Last time out Shinkwin won by a shutout 40-36 margin, so
really no one was surprised that again Shinkwin
dominated proceedings a second time. Saying that Deakin
was seeking redemption, by whatever means possible, but
no matter how wily the Crawley man is he was still no
match for the youngster from Bushey Heath. After four
highly entertaining rounds referee Ian John-Lewis raised
Shinkwin’s hand and declared him victor by a 40-36
points margin yet again.
The opening bout of the
night featured Croydon novice Danny Davis against
Tottenham’s Mark McKray.
A rather edgy start, but it didn’t take that long to
liven up as McKray tried to rough up the youngster from
Surrey. Davis used his jab to good effect to keep the
ever forward coming McKray at bay.
More of the same in the second, but in the third McKray
was starting to get some real success and around midway
of the round clearly hurt Davis with a wicked body shot.
It was close going into the fourth so there was no
surprise that Davis stepped things up a bit and around
the one minute mark let rip with a massive right cross
to send McKray crashing to the canvas.
The celebrating Davis
support quickly fell silent as Initial concerns see the
paramedics enter the ring to administer oxygen to the
prone McKray. After a few tense minutes McKray sat up
and after a round of applause Davis and his fans
restarted their celebrations.
Following the main event were two floater bouts, which I
have to admit I didn’t get to see. - the first see
Cranham’s Lee Markham beat Westury’s Aaron Fox by a
40-36 margin. The second see Peckham’s Johnny Garton get
his maiden victory over Tooting’s Danny Dontchev also by
a 40-36 points margin.
Francis and George Warren did it again it was a truly
superb, slick event, OK their dad is the King of British
Boxing Frank Warren so they have had a great teacher,
but you can’t take it away from these two it was their
show and they did it their way and it was brilliant, and
I for one can’t wait for the next Queensberry Promotions