Manchester: Raw and Uncut

By Ted Spoon on April 20, 2014
Manchester: Raw and Uncut
Much will be made of the fact Tshifhiwa had to strip down in order to make the weight.

To the delight of a roaring audience, Scott Quigg (28-0-2, 21 KOs) wiped out Tshifhiwa Munyai (24-3-1, 12 KOs) at the 1:56 mark of round two…

I lived in and around Manchester for many years. It’s a little overfamiliar these days, a sign of the past. There is however one (very big) reason to keep returning. If indie music isn’t your thing, and you’re not much of a football fan, you can always rely on the M.E.N., now the awfully tagged Phones 4u arena, to provide entertainment beyond trawling pubs. It’s one of the busiest arenas in the world, it’s one of the biggest, and it’s an electric venue for boxing.

Quigg Crushes the Spider

To the delight of a roaring audience, Scott Quigg (28-0-2, 21 KOs) wiped out Tshifhiwa Munyai (24-3-1, 12 KOs) at the 1:56 mark of round two. Stepping away from his corner in the black and gold, the WBA super-bantamweight champion looked a little too inquisitive for my liking. Where was that jab? Neither man had shown much form when a Quigg hook slipped through the defenses and scrambled The Atomic Spider. The crowd digested the unlikely and burst into cheers. Munyai already looking comfy on the canvas and did well to rise.

Boxing News had said that anything more than a good decision victory would be a bonus. Quigg was about to knock their (arguably low) expectations out of the park. In round two it was another single punch, a right cross that didn’t shake the lanky Munyai so much as it did rupture. The effects were in plain view, even for the far-seated Mancs who continued with their drunken choir. It was over shortly after and every journalist was left with a rather empty notepad.

A replacement for Nahomer Cermeno, much will be made of the fact Tshifhiwa had to strip down in order to make the weight. You can’t help but factor it in, though you can only beat what’s put in front of you, and the man from Bury pulverized what was put in front of him. Both Scott and trainer Joe Gallagher were quick to defend the opponent who had never been stopped before. Weakened or not, most will agree this hurdle was cleared impressively. Who’s next? It’s a tricky question.

Key rival Carl Frampton may get to Leo Santa Cruz before Quigg. It’s a much taller hurdle for both men, though the desire to have these two iron out their promotional differences to see who rules Britannia will only grow. And seen as Eddie Hearn is plainly aware that it will “treble” the figure made by a Cruz fight, we have reason to believe two very attractive purses will be cooked up, and a brilliant green light will follow, somewhere down the road.

Crolla Outhustles a Gallant Murray

Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla (28-4-1, 11 KOs) stopped a very tender looking John Murray (30-3, 20 KOs) at the 2:20 mark of the tenth to defend his WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title. It was a domestic dust-up to remember with multiple changes of current and a passionate (sometimes volatile) crowd. Crolla, a Manchester United supporter and Murray, a fan of Manchester City, had the football mad spectators divided as soon as the fight was announced, and went that first bell went the men in the ring weren’t the only two who got lively.

As usual, the fighting in the ring was far more pleasing to the eye.

Murray marched into his one-time sparring partner and friend with that full-English breakfast type march, plus all the trimmings. A one-two and hook to the body was stuck on repeat, but Murray was hell-bent on doing what so many fighter’s promise – fighting three minutes a round. Crolla actually took the first on clean punching, boxing well, but Murray soon got his range and hounded the younger man. A quick start turned into an effective one as Anthony began to find his back against the ropes and often.

Anthony’s head was easier to catch than it should have been, and in round four Murray went for it, pouring it on with both hands as Crolla’s hair got messed up and his face became noticeably reddened. It was always going to be a fight of two halves, though Murray looked like he may have dug his claws in too deep.

“Johnny’s gonna get ya! Johnny’s gonna get ya!” went off.

The rounds that passed were hard to score but highly watchable. Anthony was drawing courage from somewhere and the clean shots he got through began to swell Murray’s right eye while his face stabilized at rosy. For the first time Murray looked like he had shot his bolt and missed a few of his destructively intended swings by clear margins. Crolla was no longer surviving but boxing. More importantly, he was fresher.

There were more Murray charges to come, and a few more enjoyably obnoxious chants, but Crolla got his first foothold as the bout neared double figures. Murray’s swelling inflated and seeped blood. In the tenth, Crolla stopped boxing smartly and stepped forward, and once Murray got buzzed, there was only one place to go. Down. Inevitably he got up, and just like the balls-to-the –wall fighter he is he put himself back in a hopeless situation where referee Terry O’ Conner did his duty.

Crolla later said that he had used the negative tweets he had received as fuel. I am familiar with the fighter, but it was really something to see him hold it together against a basic, though a brutally basic style, powered by a make or break mentality. Always a little too easy to hit, Murray would have done well to snatch a world title, but he has provided entertainment that few world beaters do.

And as for the winner, he is sure he can improve (another mighty mite from the Joe Gallagher stable). It might not be wise to doubt him. At the least I know that tuning-in from now on is a priority. 

Warrington Dominates Munroe

When he’s not doing his part as a dental technician, Josh Warrington is trying his rapidly improving best to drive your teeth from their roots. The Commonwealth featherweight champion (17-0, 2 KOs) was almost masterful against a jaded but outclassed Rendall Munroe (28-5-1, 11 KOs). Also part of the ongoing altercation between various parts of the audience was a Yorkshire contingent who cheered Warrington as he peppered his target and ice-skated around the ring.

With high hands, quick jabs and a fine grasp of range, the twenty-three-year-old prospect got himself into positions where his punches did not have to travel far before impact. A right-left-right combo was understandably repeated as it bounced off Munroe’s noggin nearly every time. A few rounds later and there was some inflammation under his eye. 

Most impressive of all was Warrington’s variety. Boxing at a fast pace is a classic way to lose your opponent, exaggerate their mistakes. When Josh wasn’t attacking he was countering; he was particularly fast on the draw, and in the rare moments when Rendall mustered a hazardous blow Josh caused him lose his balance, so well read was the punch.

The Leeds Warrior got his first professional stoppage in his last fight, but before the eighth he would get his second. Munroe was mercifully pulled out as he sat in his corner; not mauled, but at a complete loss. The pace was probably more punishing than the punches. It was as complete a performance as can be expected from this stage in a fighter’s life. If the muscular featherweight gets a bit more behind those fists, which he should, then Britain could really have something. Until then it will mainly be Leeds who roars him to victory, though everybody should sing his praises.

A few moments later came the lasting moment of the evening, for this writer at least. Perched on the apron, beaten and teary-eyed, thirty-three-year-old Rendall Munroe spoke retirement. As his voice cracked up, all that cussing and chanting was cleansed with sincere applause.

“Thank you to all the fans” emphasized the sobbing fighter.

Having entertained he struck a chord, and I left the arena feeling closer to the sport I love.

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Scott Quigg vs Tshifhiwa Munyai

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  1. Darrell 06:24pm, 04/21/2014

    Great report mate.

  2. raxman 03:05pm, 04/21/2014

    well done to million dollar. always nice to see a fighter who suffers some losses early in his career go back to the gym, train hard, improve what needs to be improved, and come back a much better fighter.
    as for murray - I think the great shame is we never saw the obvious fight of Murray v Katsidis. it would have given Murray a chance to avenge countrymen Earl and Mitchell, given Katsidis a chance for an Englishman hatrick, and we fans one hell of a fight

  3. The Tache 07:46am, 04/21/2014

    “His face stabilized at rosy.” Love that line. Not sure where Murray can go from here and I hope for his sake that he doesn’t keep going for too long, his recent fights seem to end with his face breaking up and him running out of steam.
    As for Quigg, if he could get the belt from Martinez while Frampton goes up against Santa Cruz then the potential unification bout would be massive for both men, certainly up there with the Hatton days that Joe Gallagher talked about.
    Funny how boxing works, Frampton has beaten Martinez and still waits for a title shot while Martinez has picked a belt up since.

  4. Danger-dong 04:36am, 04/21/2014

    Great write up!

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