PHOTO CREDIT: Philip Sharkey
Sunday night fight nights under bright lights have always piqued my interest, especially when the show happens to fall on my doorstep. The Battle of Bracknell brought boxing back to Berkshire in style. An action packed card with entertainment from top to bottom of the card left myself and the punters in attendance leaving the venue with a smile and satisfaction, rounding off arguably one of the biggest weekends in the sporting calendar.
Whilst Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix and a home nation victory in a little-known competition called the World Cup dominated the headlines of the national press, the Siesta Boxing Promotion show on Sunday evening gave a stark reminder that small hall shows can deliver the same levels of drama.
Headlining the show was Luther Clay, facing off against the resilient and familiar figure of Frenchman Renald Garrido. Often known for his pranks and tomfoolery in the lead up to fights, Garrido presented 22-year-old Clay with a milk bottle at the weigh-in, describing his opponent as a baby.
This would not deter Clay. In his maiden 10 fights as a professional, the Welterweight fighter had already graced the shores and hostile crowds of Lithuania, Russia and Latvia, as well as fighting across various venues in the UK… a refreshing change from the prospect who is religiously shielded within the walls of his hometown for the first dozen bouts of their careers.
The early experience would pay immediate dividends in the fight. Clay remained comfortable throughout the fight, moving in and out of range well, selecting a variety of shots that more often than not found the torso and chin of tough foe Garrido.
Despite the success and class gap, Garrido found success of his own at points throughout the 8 round fight. Naturally the smaller man, The Lion would goad the comparatively inexperienced Clay into fighting on the inside and thanking him with thumping overhand right hooks to the chin. Lessons to be considered and focused on for the future, perhaps.
Nevertheless, Clay would accept his punishment for not moving out of range quickly enough, demonstrating a chin that often evades young, protected fighters, before regaining his slick and smooth ring style, gliding seemingly around his opponent and picking off shots at his pleasure.
A shutout points victory moved The Black Panther’s record to 9-1, and within reaching distant of professional gongs. Louis Greene stands as the current Southern Area champion and fellow Reading local, Tamuka Mucha, has also been a previous recipient of the belt. Both bouts would draw the attention of domestic 147lbs fighters from across the country and begin the process of sifting through the talent pool on the way to higher levels in the paid ranks.
The co-main event drew arguably the largest crowd reaction of the action-packed evening. Local lad, Johnny Phillips faced off against the loveable and tenacious figure of Southern Area Featherweight titleholder Jamie Speight. With the bout to commence at Lightweight, there were no belts on the line, only the pride of a young prospect.
Phillips had the quicker start but it would be Speight who delivered the more punishing work. The pair stood toe to toe for the duration of the six round fight. As the final round commenced, the bell signalled the start of an all-out war. Each fighter received and delivered their own punishing blows, taunting one another in the process of doing so, whipping the 1200 strong crowd into a frenzy in an already sweltering inferno of heat. Phillips won by a single point, moving his record to 4-1; a contentious decision with many in the crowd showing great interest in a rematch between the two.
Other notable results on the card saw Kristine Shergold of Exeter shock the infamous Kallia Pink Tyson Kourouni in a 10 round fight for the WBF and GBU Super Featherweight titles. Famous for her love of Hello Kitty and often whacky fashion choices, Kourouni was brought crashing down to Earth as Shergold stuck to the game plan as instructed by her coaches to win her first title as a professional, an achievement that was heartwarmingly meant so much to the Cornish fighter.
Naylor Ball and George Lamport both improved their fledging professional records with straightforward wins, whilst Billy Allington impressed with his ferocious and aggressive walk forward style to also chalk another victory for Berkshire boxers. Rohan Date and Wes Smith preserved their undefeated status as professional by sharing a draw.
A fun evening, which streamed live on FightBoxHD. With many of the fighters on the cards showing bright futures, Al Siesta and team proved that boxing in the small halls can be competitive and does not have to confined to the bounds of London.
Written by Tom Humber