It wasn’t to be fourth time lucky for Ijaz Ahmed as he was stopped after a brave effort in the ninth round of his British title rematch with Marcel Braithwaite at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham on Friday night.
That bravery has been a hallmark of Ahmed’s career, and he entered the ring to a huge amount of home support. His previous attempts at the British title had ended in controversial draws, twice against Quaisie Khademi and then once against Braithwaite in March this year.
Their first fight was a measured, technical affair, both men carry contrasting styles, Ahmed the aggressor who likes to hold centre ring and throws in flurries whereas Braithwaite relies on his slick defense, counter punching and left right combinations.
This time was more of a shoot-out, both landed heavy shots in the early action with Braithwaite finding success with the left hand. At the mid-way stage Braithwaite was edging the rounds but was warned several times by referee Kevin Parker for punches landing behind the head, much to the crowd’s frustration it remained only a warning rather than a point deduction.
Ahmed continued to press the pace and was landing at a higher volume but was taking some sharp counter punches as the fight headed to the final quarter of the scheduled twelve rounds.
The ending came from nowhere and it was emphatic, Ahmed was dropped heavily early in the round, making it to his feet on unsteady legs, a flurry of shots followed and the referee decided to step in, much to the frustration of the Bordesley Green man who wanted to continue.
Several of the final blows did appear to land behind the head and Ahmed may feel aggrieved that they were potentially not legal punches.
Official time of the stoppage came one minute thirty seven seconds of the ninth round and an elated Braithwaite who also holds the Commonwealth title celebrated with his travelling Liverpool supporters.
Hamzah Ahmed showed why he is gaining a reputation in the early stages of his pro career, picking up 40-36 points win over Logan Paling as the shows chief support. The 23-year-old who is from Palfrey in Walsall made his debut back in June, a show that such is his popularity he headlined.
Paling is a very durable opponent having only being stopped once in eleven fights so a stoppage was always going to a big ask. Ahmed dominated the action landing several hurtful body shots and showing flashes of the hand speed and footwork that has got a lot of people in the Midlands excited about the super featherweight prospect.
Ben Vaughan and Jimmy Cooper put on a thrilling four round battle that had the crowd out of their seats throughout. Vaughan from Northampton has had to put the frustration of a couple of fight delays in his rear view mirror and it’s this resilience which will have helped hum through a bad cut he suffered in the opening round.
Spurred on by the blood flowing and a risk of referee intervention the 24-year-old went on the front foot throwing bundles of punches at Cooper who took heavy punishment in the second and third round.
Cooper who had travelled from Totton in Hampshire, clung on and had moments of success but he couldn’t slow the onslaught and was dropped with a left hand, his corner rightly called a halt to the bout by throwing in the towel shortly after.
Droitwich’s Sian O’Toole continued her unbeaten start to life in the paid ranks with a 60-54 points win over Karina Szmalenberg. The 24-year-old former amateur stand out had to work hard as her Polish opponent did everything she could to slow the action down holding at every opportunity.
She showed maturity and patience using her jab to great effect and despite walking on to a decent shot in the third it was a very easy fight to score as she took every round as she did on her debut in June.
Tori-Ellis Willets may have had to settle for a points win but her Bulgarian opponent Ivanka Ivanova looked she had been through the wars after their six round contest. The 28-year old bantamweight is a two time England Elite national titlist and the gulf in levels was clear from early on.
Ivanova was hurt several times and marked up badly on both eyes but to her credit kept fighting back and managed to see the final bell with Willets taking the 60-54 points decision.
Zain Ali had waited a long time to make his debut, several years after first planned he stepped through the ropes against George Rogers. It wasn’t the dream start for the Birmingham man who had to settle for a 38-38 draw after a scrappy four rounds.
Hamza Azeem made it four wins out of four, dropping Liam Griffiths in the final round on route to 40-35 points win. The 23 year old southpaw has only lost one round in those four contests and the Kings Heath based super middleweight will be looking to get out again soon.