Felix Cash did pretty much as expected in this week’s Matchroom Fight Camp, successfully defending his Commonwealth middleweight title against the game veteran Jason Welborn.
Cash (13-0, 9 KO) stopped Welborn (24-9, 7 KO) at 2:48 of the fifth round, when Welborn’s corner threw the towel after a knockdown.
Cash, 27, did eat some shots from the 34-year-old Welborn, but while Welborn’s best career work has been done at middleweight, Cash is a significantly taller fighter, a harder puncher, and his youth and freshness added on to that made him too much for the old warhorse at this stage of Welborn’s career.
Cash did lose a point for repeatedly straying low, but he was determined to stick to body work that he felt was effective.
“It was a decent performance. After a round or so, I got my range. After that, it was just a matter of time, breaking him down and getting the job done,” Cash said. “I knew the body shots were hurting him and slowing him down, so I stayed down there, but a couple were low. But I knew it was hurting him, so I stayed there.”
“I’ll fight any middleweight in the country,” Cash added. “I reckon I’m the best in the country.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn has designs on Cash fighting Italy’s Matteo Signani for the European middleweight title.
“So sharp, so young, so fresh. Jason Welborn is tough as old boots, but he couldn’t stand up to the firepower of Felix Cash,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “I love the European title. Signani is a fight we tried to make before, and also all the big domestic fights at middleweight. He’s ready for all those big domestic fights, but for me, I’d love to push on to a European title.”
Zelfa Barrett TKO-8 Eric Donovan
Donovan, 35, was a standout amateur for Ireland but didn’t turn pro until 2016, and really hadn’t fought anyone as a pro. But he was trouble here, a technically sound southpaw, gave Barrett big problems through six rounds. We had him up 59-55 through six rounds, in fact, and that wasn’t that Barrett was fighting terribly or not trying. Barrett was trying, but Donovan was better.
Then the power of Barrett got in, and the fight changed rapidly. Donovan (12-1, 7 KO) was dropped twice in the seventh round, and then a third and final time in the eighth, giving Barrett (24-1, 15 KO) an exciting, come-from-behind win to keep himself moving forward at 130 pounds.
Barrett seemed almost like he felt like he’d lost the fight in his post-fight interview.
“He was a good boxer, he was catching me, I couldn’t find my rhythm,” Barrett admitted. “I had to just dig deep and do what I’ve trained to do. But he’s a good fighter.”
“He came back from the depths. I had him 4-1 down after five rounds. Without crowds, you can be a little bit flat, and then all of a sudden your career is turned on its head,” promoter Eddie Hearn said, noting that we saw that happen this week with Jono Carroll losing to Maxi Hughes.
“You could have saved your career tonight with a devastating finish,” Hearn said directly to Barrett. “You won by knockout! You’re on fire! You’re an exciting talent!”
Hearn also noted that he’d love to have Donovan back, and perhaps back down at his more natural weight of 126, rather than 130.
Rachel Ball PTS-8 Shannon Courtenay
Courtenay, 27, has been pushed pretty well by Matchroom during her early fights, but she takes the L here to the former kickboxer Ball, a 29-year-old who had a big height advantage, used it well at times, and just did the tidier, cleaner work for the most part.
Referee Howard Foster scored it 77-75, and BLH had it 77-74, also for Ball, who scored a first round knockdown on a counter left hook, and may have sealed it in the last few rounds, when Courtenay (5-1, 2 KO) began to gas out pretty hard. That didn’t affect her effort, mind you, but did take a toll on her effectiveness.
Courtenay was the aggressor throughout, and showed some real determination after the late first round knockdown, coming back nicely from there to keep fighting like she always does. But it’s now clear she needs to tighten up her technique and defense a bit, because not everyone will be overwhelmed by her pure aggression, which is fun to watch but does leave her open, and Ball was able to take advantage enough.
There was also an issue with weight coming into this. They continued to call it a 122-pound fight, but Courtenay didn’t even make the featherweight limit. There was a late adjustment to the agreed weight to keep it going on, and it didn’t hurt Ball in the end, but it’s worth noting.
“It was closer than I wanted it to be, but I got the win,” an emotional Ball said after the fight. “Sign me up and put me with whoever. I want to be at the top and the world title level. That’s where I want to be more than anything. She does hit hard, there’s a reason she’s knocked girls out. I just had to get through it. I don’t think I used all my technical ability, to be honest, but it’s all progress, isn’t it?”
Kieron Conway UD-10 Navid Mansouri
Conway may be really putting it together. The 24-year-old got a draw he didn’t really deserve last year with Ted Cheeseman, but he was really sharp here against the veteran Mansouri (20-4-2, 6 KO), who was competitive early on but then just got worn out by the younger man.
And it has to be said that Conway looks a better fighter than he did against Cheeseman, learning from that and from continuing to work toward his goals. Conway (15-1-1, 3 KO) probably punches a bit harder than his KO rate suggests; Cheeseman said then that Conway hit him harder than anyone, and he buzzed the hell out of Mansouri in the seventh round here, and Mansouri never quite recovered. He did survive very capably, though. He was able to slip some shots, turn with some shits, and hold on and keep away well enough.
Scores were 98-92, 98-92, and 99-92 for Conway, and he’s looking like a good piece of a really fun 154-pound scene in the UK where you also have Cheeseman, Scott Fitzgerald, Anthony Fowler, Sam Eggington, and JJ Metcalf, among others.
John Docherty TKO-7 Anthony Fox
This was an interesting fight on paper coming in, as Docherty is a legitimate 168-pound prospect, and while Fox has a sub-.500 record, he’s been on a strong run of form, winning three straight fights he wasn’t supposed to win, with a couple of close losses to prospects before that.
But Docherty (9-0, 7 KO) did the job here. He clipped Fox (8-13-4, 0 KO) late in the third for an official if not heavy knockdown, then caught him clean with a hard left hand late in the sixth round that had Fox reeling going back to his corner, where Fox admitted to his team he was hurt, and came out for the seventh just not recovered.
Docherty smelled the blood and went for it, dropping Fox a second time, much heavier, and then finishing him off at 1:02 when referee Howard Foster stepped in to make the proper stoppage. Fox boxed well overall here, but he didn’t have the firepower to deter Docherty, who at the very least got a nice learning experience with a game, tough opponent.
“I’m over the moon. I started off a bit slow and had my chin in the air, but I got him in the end,” Docherty said. “He’s a lot stronger than I thought, but I got the job done. I thought he was going to come at me and have a go, but I think he felt the power early. But he’s better than I expected. I want titles now. A British title eliminator, or anything.”
“The reason Anthony Fox got stopped is he tried to win. If he’d got on his bike and held he might have gone the distance, but we want the guys trying to win,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “On to British title eliminators now. [Docherty] can punch, still a little bit keen when he jumps in with his chin up, but a great fighter, great amateur pedigree, ready to move on now. I think maybe one more this year, a British title eliminator, then titles in 2021.”