IT was a night Chantelle Cameron would not forget. Gaining super-lightweight supremacy with an impressive win over Mary McGee was one thing, topping the bill at the O2 Arena was something else. For someone who was struggling to get a fight two years ago, it was no surprise Cameron was smiling.
These are boom times for women’s boxing. The original plan to have Cameron-McGee as chief support to Dillian Whyte’s fight with Otto Wallin was bold enough, but even Cameron did not expect to see her name on top of the poster when Whyte pulled out injured.
Cameron did not waste her time in the spotlight. While McGee was fit, relentless and brave, Cameron was a class above and far too quick and accurate.
Early on it appeared that the American’s reach advantage might cause Cameron, 30, who came in as WBC belt-holder, some problems. But it did not take long for Cameron to seize the initiative. Everything she did seemed to work. When she came forward she drove McGee backwards, when she moved away, McGee was swinging at air, as she telegraphed her punches. The American’s best moments came when Cameron stood and traded, but even then it was the Englishwoman who outlanded her.
But, as hard as she tried, Cameron could not shift McGee, the IBF belt-holder. The closest Cameron came to a stoppage was in a furious end to the eighth round, but there was no quit in McGee, who probably had her best round in the 10th, as Cameron moved away to run out the clock.
Frank Lombardi scored it a shut-out, 100-90, Guido Cavalleri had it 99-91 and Victor Loughlin had it 99-92. The referee was Mark Lyson.
Cameron’s next fight, in spring next year, is likely to be against the winner of the fight between Kali Reis and Jessica Camara. Now Chantelle’s closest rivals, they box in Manchester, New Hampshire, on November 19.
The decision to press ahead with the show with Cameron-McGee was made by promoter Eddie Hearn and then rubber-stamped by DAZN, although it turned into a difficult night financially for Matchroom.
“It’s a bad look pulling out of a show and letting fighters down, particularly when it is a female fight,” Hearn said. “We had about 3,000 tickets sold by fighters and we had about 8,000 sold at the box office. About 6,500 of those 8,000 asked for refunds.
“Financially, not a great night for us, but if we couldn’t get those nine fighters out tonight, you would have to try to get them out somewhere else. So, you are better off swallowing [the financial loss].”
In the heavyweight chief support, Alen Babic knocked down Éric Molina four times in two rounds, although Molina drew plenty of ire after appearing to give up having initially been prepared to fight back under heavy fire.
Molina, a former fringe contender from the United States, was knocked down by a cracking right hook from Babic five seconds into the first round. He got up and gave it a go against the aggressive, but smaller, Croatian.
That resistance all went in round two, though, as he went down after claiming a shot landed at the back of his head. He was down soon after, when he seemed to slip after a left land. The final knockdown was comical, as Molina looked to try to clinch, miss and then fall over. Referee Kieran McCann counted waved it off as Molina stumbled back to his feet at 1-30.
Craig Richards won his first fight since losing to Dmitry Bivol as he stopped Poland’s Marek Matyja in the sixth round. A big right uppercut was the start of the finish in the sixth, stiffening Matyja’s legs. Richards then poured everything into attack as Matyja tried to cling on, but referee John Latham stepped in at 2-34 with Matyja tottering backwards.
Jorge David Castaneda came on strong in the second half of his super-featherweight 10-rounder with Youssef Khoumari to claim a deserved majority points decision that snapped Khoumari’s unbeaten record.
It was a high-paced fight of two halves. For the first half, as Khoumari seemed to gain the upper hand, Castaneda would come back strong. The difference seemed to be that while Khoumari’s shots seemed to bounce off Castaneda, the Texan’s punches slowly wore Khoumari down and he dominated the last three rounds after hurting Khoumari in the eighth.
One judge, Andreas Stenberg, had it level, 95-95, while Mark Lyson and Guido Cavalleri had it to the American by scores of 97-94 and 96-94 respectively.
Heavyweight hope Johnny Fisher, who was comfortably the best supported boxer on the bill, dropped Spain’s Alvaro Terrero, three times on the way to a second-round stoppage. Terrero stood and traded with Fisher, but a right to the top of the head put him down in the first of three knockdowns before referee Sean McAvoy waved it off at 2-06.
Jordan Thompson unleashed a huge right hand to knock out Piotr Podlucki in the first round of his Matchroom debut, to extend his unbeaten record to 11.
Thompson, 28, a huge, athletic cruiserweight towered over Podlucki, who tried to put it on Thompson from the opening bell. But Thompson soon gained control and finished matters in spectacular style, leaning back to make space for a big right that sent the Pole to the floor. Referee Kieran McCann, counted him out as he rose at 2-52.
Ellie Scotney impressed but was given a decent test by Spain’s Eva Cantos in their super-bantamweight eight-rounder before claiming a 79-73 decision from referee John Latham.
Irish heavyweight Thomas Carty found a series of heavy lefts to knock out Igors Vasiljevs, of Latvia, in the third round to go 2-0 as a pro.
John Hedges moved to 3-0, as he picked his punches well to claim a 60-54 decision from Latham against Ben Thomas at light-heavyweight.
The Verdict Cameron-McGee delivers, much to Hearn’s relief.