The Dublin light welterweight was outpointed by the awkward and tricky Akeem Ennis Brown in the headline fight of the BoxNation ‘Conquering Europe’ card on a cold Friday evening at the York Hall.
A skill versus will affair at the famous Bethnal Greene venue, the quick and long Brown would claim a unanimous decision win in a fight which wasn’t easy on the eye.
Having built impressively Down Under with a multitude of rankings belt wins, Foley is now looking to make an impact on the Irish and British scene. Training out of Boston, Foley made his Northern Hemisphere debut last time out in Glasgow in August where an unfortunate cut to his opponent Chris Jenkins cut short their clash and forced a technical draw and he took this fight on five weeks notice following the withdrawal of Johnny Coyle.
The highly-rated Brown also had Jenkins across from him last time he fought, back in May, another fight which ended due to cuts suffered by Jenkins. However, as it was stopped in the fifth, Brown was a technical decision winner on the cards and picked up the WBC Youth title and #38 ranking to add to the English belt he won against Glen Foot last year.
Tonight it was the IBF European title on the line and Brown would grab the red belt with a win over his managerial stablemate in a messy clash of styles.
Walking in to Christmas classic ‘Fairytale of New York’, Foley seemed extremely confident – even lunging at outspoken rival and close friend of Brown, Ohara Davies.
As was expected, the fight between two rangy southpaws was cagey to start, with the skills of 23-year-old Brown landing the only handful of clean punches. Perhaps a conscious tactic, Foley sought to rile ‘Riiddy’ at the bell and the two would square up and need to be separated by their respective corners.
Brown, though, kept his cool and continued to keep it long in the second, tying Foley up whenever the Dubliner got anywhere near in close.
Foley landed the big backhand left cleanly for the first time in the opening exchanges of the third, jarring Brown who grabbed on – much to the Irishman’s frustration. Mid-way through the round referee Phil Edwards intervened to tell both to clean it up and the English youngster would then enjoy a strong finish.
Finally, the pair began to exchange at the start of the fourth and Foley would cause Brown’s gumshield to fly across the ring. The Gloucester fighter, however, would again respond well, controlling large swathes of the stanza and countering well as Foley’s face began to puff up but the Blanch boxer would have the final say of the round with a long right hook.
Foley was a favourite with the bookies when markets opened but, by the time the opening bell came around, he had slipped to underdog status and, by the end of the fifth, another Brown round, it was looking like a stoppage was the only way ‘Super Foley’ could claim a win.
The sixth was extremely scrappy as Foley desperately poured forward looking to land big shots. The Bondai-based man found himself on the canvas a number of times throughout the three minutes – however these trips came through pushes, shoves, and throws which Brown was lucky to not be penalised for.
Foley enjoyed some success at the start of the seventh, again knocking the gumshield of Brown out. Such was the pattern, unfortunately for Irish fans, the English prospect was able to draw the sting out as the round progressed and he landed a lot of eye-catching counters towards the close.
To his credit, the 30-year-old continued to march forward in the ninth and did land a big right hook early on but Brown was hitting home with more and more shots as Foley’s face continued to swell badly.
It was scrappy again in the ninth as Foley threw everything at – but landed little on – Brown who was putting on an outstanding boxing performance.
Needing a knockout going into the last, the big punch did not come for the brave Foley who was staggered himself in the closing seconds.
Going to the final cards in little doubt, Akeem Ennis Brown was confirmed a unanimous decision winner on scorelines of 98-92, 97-93, and 96-94
The defeat sees Foley slip to 15(8)-3(0)-1 while the impressive Brown improves to 12(1)-0.
The Irishman will be left disappointed and disheartened following the ugly fight but there are definitely fights there for him in 2019 against the likes of Crumlin’s Phil Sutcliffe Jr.