British junior middleweight prospect Jamie Cox stayed undefeated and nabbed his first title in the pro game, but he didn't do it without controversy.
Cox defeated defending Commonwealth junior middleweight champ Obodai Sai on scores of 114-113, 114-112 and 115-113 despite being pretty well handled by Sai through much of the fight, and despite losing two points on repeated low blows that would have led to a disqualification with a harsher referee in charge of the action. Without the two points taken, the judges would have had it 116-113, 116-112 and 117-113, and those are scores I just can't see. Bad Left Hook had it a comfortable if not dominant 117-109 for Sai, who did more damage, boxed better, and overall just looked too clever and crafty for Cox, at least in my view.
Sai (15-1, 10 KO) was fighting outside of Ghana for the first time, and this is the treat he was given. A dead crowd at a charity gala, facing a southpaw prospect on that guy's turf, and then he was given those scores for his efforts, after being hit below the belt repeatedly, which is where Cox did most of his damage, as it seemed the only thing that really gave Sai problems in the fight.
Cox (16-0, 9 KO) can call himself Commonwealth champion right now, but I think the feeling is going to be that he didn't really earn it, and that he's nowhere near the class his team is hyping him to be at this point. He has tools offensively, but really is quite poor defensively, and I mentioned during the fight that watching the "new" Jamie Cox was sort of like watching John Duddy under the guidance of Pat Burns. Duddy wasn't very good to begin with, but going against his instincts just made him worse. Cox is a better talent than Duddy, but he's clearly fighting against his instincts, which are to brawl when the going gets tough. He's not a pure boxer and it just doesn't suit him. At times he looked mentally lost, and at times his frustration seemed to lead to the low blows.
In short, Cox still has a great deal of work to do, rainbow belt or not. Sai was no star himself, as I felt he won the fight ugly but effectively, and is by no means a likely candidate for world class level. But he was better than Cox tonight, I thought, and clearly so.
Worth noting is that Ian John-Lewis was one of the three ringside judges, and of the three I was able to predict what his score would be. His reputation as both a judge and a referee was already pretty poor, and this is just another questionable performance.