Mixed results for Irish underdogs on Sky Sports midweek show


There was a distinctly Irish flavour to the Sky Sports JDNXTGEN show in London tonight.

The three headline fights at the York Hall in Bethnal Green all featured fighters of Irish descent looking to cause big underdog upsets.

In the end there was one such surprise, with Manchester-Dublin featherweight Ryan Doyle dethroning Commonwealth champ Reece Bellotti while Pauly Upton and Luke Watkins lost out to Ted Cheeseman and Lawrence Okolie respectively.

In the chief support, Doyle fought fire with fire against noted puncher Bellotti, a training partner of Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin, and came out on top in the fifth round.

The nine-stone slugfest exploded into life in the second, with Doyle catching the champ as he came in and unleashing a volley of shots that troubled Bellotti who responded in kind. Invigorated, Doyle tore into Bellotti in the third, hurting him numerous times before a strong finish from the Londoner.

The good Doyle work continued into the fourth and, firmly on top, he hurt Bellotti once again toward the close.

The end then finally came in the fifth round in slightly controversial circumstances. A shot to the temple discombobulated Bellotti who staggered across the ring as Doyle came in to finish the job, eventually sending his man down and referee Howard Foster stopped the fight immediately.

Some questioned the speediness of the call – although Foster was already en-route to intervening before Bellotti went down and the champion looked to be in seriously bad shape.

The win sees Doyle improve to 17(9)-2(2)-1 and he picks up the Commonwealth as well as the WBC International Silver belts. Bellotti falls to 12(11)-1(1).

In the bout preceding this, Belfast light middleweight Pauly Upton was overpowered by WBA International belt holder Ted Cheeseman.

The former Irish champion and the eldest of the fighting brothers started quite well but was working extremely hard to keep Cheeseman off him. The far larger Cheeseman began to really hit home in the third and then dropped Upton thrice in the fourth and finishing the bout.

The immensely brave Upton, who took the fight on relatively short notice, falls to 15(3)-1(1), while the imperious Cheeseman improves to 14(9)-0.

Finally, in the headline attraction, Irish and Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Luke Watkins was stopped in the third round by Olympian Lawrence Okolie.

Again, the size difference was apparent, with the Swindon-Wexford fighter being dwarfed by Okolie who troubled him in the first two rounds with straight shots before flooring him twice in the third and finishing the fight.

‘The Duke’ Watkins drops to 13(9)-1(1) with the loss while Okolie improves to 9(7)-0.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]