By Eric Armit

May 25

Cheavon Clarke leaves his mark on Zorro – Leeds, UK

Clarke won the vacant British title with a KO of Ellis Zorro. In the early action, Zorro boxed cleverly on the back foot using his jab and plenty of nifty footwork to avoid the attacks of the slower Clarke. Zorro continued to hold Clarke off, and when Clarke did get inside, he held on to smother Clarke’s hooks and uppercuts. 

Zorro was given a warning for holding at the start of the eighth and Clarke was then able to force him to the ropes and landed a huge right that made Zorro buckle at the knees and retreat. Clarke closed in and three clubbing right sent Zorro down and he was counted out. Clarke, 33, grabbed his seventh win by KO/TKO. 

Jamaican-born Clarke, who beat current WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith in the amateurs, represented Jamaica at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. 

Clarke then switched to represent England/Great Britain winning a silver medal at the European Championships, a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and competed at the Tokyo Olympics. Zorro, 31, lost his unbeaten tag when he was knocked out in one round by Jai Opetaia in December.

Perfect Paddy rinses Ritson – Leeds, UK

Paddy Donovan wore down Lewis Ritson for a ninth-round stoppage. In the early rounds, southpaw Donovan boxed in a cool and controlled fashion, mainly on the retreat, with Ritson advancing behind a high guard, using his jab to set Donovan up for rights. 

Donovan switched tactics in the seventh, going on the front foot, taking the fight to Ritson. He continued those tactics successfully in the eighth, trapping Ritson in a corner and then along the ropes for the second half of the round, scoring with hooks and some neck-snapping uppercuts. Ritson fired occasional counters to convince the referee he was still in the fight, but only just. 

Donovan again drove Ritson to the ropes in the ninth and was bombarding him with punches when the referee stopped the fight. Donovan was making the second defence of the WBA Continental belt with his fifth consecutive inside-the-distance victory.

Cully pushes sole loss further behind him by beating Patera – Leeds, UK

Gary Cully outpointed Francesco Patera by unanimous decision. Patera knew he would have to take the fight inside against the 6’2” Cully, and he did that in the first, focusing on body punches with Cully using right jabs and straight lefts to score.

Tiring towards the end, Patera staged a storming finish to take the tenth and make it close. The scores came in at 96-94 (twice) and a too-wide 98-92 for Cully. 

The winner previously suffered a crushing defeat when Mexican Jose Felix floored him twice and stopped him in three rounds in May last year, but a win over Reece Mould in November went some way to restoring his reputation. 

Two-time European champion Patera again showed his excellent skills and tactical expertise but just came up short here. He was 10-1 in his last eleven fights with the defeat coming on points against the hugely talented Keyshawn Davis in July 2023.

Gary Cully (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

May 24

Buoyant Ballingall bosses Benjamin – London, UK

Lucas Ballingall survived a last-round knockdown to outpoint Kaisee Benjamin. These two were well matched, with Ballingall being more mobile and quicker but doing a bit too much flashy showmanship, whereas Benjamin worked solidly all the way. 

Neither is a heavy puncher, and Ballingall went for quantity, attacking with quick bursts of punches, while Benjamin threw less but with more accuracy. Ballingall’s clever boxing and speedier movement gave him the edge, and with swelling affecting Benjamin’s vision out of his right eye, Ballingall had a good lead going into the tenth. 

He was tired, and Benjamin landed a series of hooks to the body. An exhausted Ballingall was desperately holding when he lost his mouthguard, gaining a few seconds of respite. A right shook Ballingall, and then three punches dropped him with just 16 seconds remaining in the fight. 

He climbed to his feet and grabbed Benjamin to make it through the few remaining seconds. Ballingall won on scores of 96-93 twice and 95-94. He also claimed the vacant IBF European title. Benjamin suffered back-to-back losses against Dalton Smith and Sean McComb but had won his last two fights coming in.

Who beats Isaac Chilemba? Aleksei Papin for one – Balashikha, Russia

Papin brushed aside a faded Chilemba in the second. Chilemba showed all of his experience as he boxed his way cleverly in the first round, frustrating a dangerous Papin. 

Papin launched a fierce attack in the second, driving Chilemba to the ropes and then tried to beat Chilemba to the floor but the Malawian blocked many of the shots and wriggled off the ropes. 

A left hook sent Chilemba to the ropes again and this time there was no escape. Papin bombarded Chilemba with punches until Chilemba ended up lying on his back on the canvas and the referee immediately stopped the fight.

May 23

Jermaine Franklin beat a tired Devin Vargas – Detroit, USA

Franklin got in some target practice against a flabby but resilient Vargas. A right uppercut sent Vargas down in the fourth and although badly hurt and bleeding heavily from the nose, Vargas managed to beat the count and fought back bravely in the fifth. 

Late in the sixth, with Vargas against the ropes, Franklin connected with a left hook and a right and Vargas dropped to the canvas. He was up quickly with the bell going before the referee could start a count but wisely Vargas did not come out for the seventh.

Jermaine Franklin (James Chance/Getty Images)

May 22 

Jukembayev rips into Redkach – Florida, USA

Batyrzhan Jukembayev halted a worn-looking Ivan Redkach in five rounds on Pro Box TV. Quicker and more accurate with his southpaw jabs, Jukembayev was in charge all the way.

This was Jukembayev’s fifth consecutive win as he tries to work his way to a title shot. He was floored and lost on a retirement against Subriel Matias in May 2021, so he will be hoping to get a chance for revenge now that Matias is the IBF champion. However, his only current rating is No 12 with the WBA. 

At 38, Redkach looked like a candidate for retirement. After going 19-1-1, he has dropped to 5-6 in recent activity and this was only his second fight in three years.


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