By Noah Abraham
A packed Hangar Events Centre played host to a variety of young, hungry and highly talented rising stars in boxing on last Friday night. Concluding the evening in Wolverhampton was a WBO European Title fight that resulted in a split decision winner.
Consisting of nine bouts, an audience made up of both boxing fanatics and those generally wanting an exciting night out, most definitely got their monies worth.
After a stacked undercard, it was main event time.
An absorbing contest went all ten rounds in what was a toe to toe slug fest. Both competing for the WBO European Bantamweight title on their 13th fights were Kyle Williams and Romanian Ionut Baluta.
Although a favourite to win, Williams, a former kick boxing champion, was knocked to the canvas in what was a surprising but strong first round for Il Capo (Baluta). Half a foot taller than the Brit, the Romanian caught Williams with a flash left handed hook. From the off, this was a Rocky-esque battle.
The intensity of round one was an element of this fight that carried on the whole way through. A common theme that complimented the fights drama, was the loss of a gumshield from Baluta. A now determined Williams made sure to amend what was by any boxers standards, a disappointing opening round.
The pressure uploaded on the underdog ‘forced’ the gumshield to fly out of the sportsman’s mouth and into the hands of the referee. Such behaviour, after several warnings, allowed those officiating to subtract two points from the eventual champions score card.
With all guns blazing in both the second and third rounds, Williams switched stances from south paw to orthodox, whilst Baluta was succeeding in landing clean head shots. Whilst Williams has every capability to move his head, he does so slowly and centrally.
Staying in the middle of the ring, the Brit in round four had a fantastic chance of finishing off his opponent. With strong combinations landing, the bell was warmly welcomed by Baluta.
An extremely competitive and aggressive battle carried on into round five where again, with terrific head movement, the Wolverhampton born competitor forced his opponent into a mistake. A slip caused Baluta to fall to his knees – an error that the judges would have noted.
At the half way mark of this fight, several media outlets had the two men drawing. Into the second half of the fight and an opening exchange saw Baluta cut Williams above his right eye.
With referee approval, the bout continued. Williams now protecting his eye was on the brutal end of a Romanian attack and whilst one may have thought the gumshield stoppage was enough for some composure to be regained, both fighters took a tumble.
Rounds seven, eight and nine saw more of the same from both athletes. All glove at points from Baluta, Williams found a perfect range and stayed in the pocket for what played out to be an extraordinary final few rounds.
Vicious attacks from both boxers resulted in the a vital last three minutes.
Leaving their corners neck and neck, it was the turn of Williams to try and knock out his rival. Coming close, the Hangar’s hero very nearly achieved a knock out, the bell saving Baluta and the final decision going to points.
A tense few minutes had both boxers wondering who had been victorious. A points decision in favour of Baluta resulted in victory but the WBO European Bantamweight title didn’t travel back to Spain with him as he failed to make weight. A gutted Kyle Williams will look to come back stronger with fights scheduled in the coming months.