The Wood vs Lara undercard is in the books, with Dalton Smith retaining his British title against Billy Allington, plus wins for Gary Cully and Cheavon Clarke, and an upset in the main card opener, where Diego Ruiz pretty handily defeated Gamal Yafai.
Highlights and full results:
Dalton Smith UD-12 Billy Allington
Smith (14-0, 10 KO) retains his British 140 lb title without losing a round in this fight, but this was not the most inspiring performance. There will be a lot of reaction and quite probably a good bit of overreaction, but while Allington (10-2-4, 0 KO) certainly has some craftiness, and no one is really asking Smith to be reckless, it just always felt through the entire 12 rounds like he could have been doing more, could have been trying to lead the dance a bit more, get his own offense going more, put punches together, etc.
But that’s not what we got. We got an awkward, cautious fight — and being fair to Smith, Allington fought like a guy who knew he was out of his depth and just wanted to last the 36 minutes — that never really sparked, save for the occasional moment, including an eighth round knockdown. Even then, however, it felt like he could have followed up better and probably gotten the stoppage, but didn’t.
To his credit, Smith in the post-fight interview also wasn’t really impressed with his own performance. As for what’s next, Sam Maxwell (17-1, 11 KO), who won a six-round tune-up on the prelims, was and is intended to be Smith’s next opponent. It’s done for April 29, but Smith did suffer a cut here that could put the kibosh on that idea.
Smith said he’d be “ready to go” on April 29 with “a bit of glue,” but Eddie Hearn termed it “hopeful,” so we’ll see. Even if it waits a bit — and their April 29 show is in Sheffield, Smith’s hometown — it’ll happen.
Another note: Early in the 10th round, Smith had an absolute tantrum, picking Allington up and slamming him on the canvas. It was an egregious foul that could have been an instant disqualification. If nothing else, the referee could have immediately taken two points, not just one, but two. At that point, Smith was 10 points up without question, it would have had no impact on the outcome and would have given the referee a shred of credibility while also not really affecting the outcome.
Instead, the official took the firm stance of giving Smith a warning that the next time he picked Allington up and slammed him on the canvas in the boxing match, he would take a point, basically about the most gutless handling of the foul possible short of finding a way to blame Allington for it and take a point from him.
HUGE onslaught from the champion in the fourth #WoodLara pic.twitter.com/ZJ0xJ2CzKd— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 18, 2023
The power shows as this time @daltonsmith08 knocks down the challenger #WoodLara, live on https://t.co/FoiaUucI53 pic.twitter.com/eiT93oTd96— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 18, 2023
OH MY @daltonsmith08 picks up Allington above his head and throws him down #WoodLara pic.twitter.com/X4ePehhMQ2— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 18, 2023
Gary Cully TKO-2 Wilfredo Flores
Well, once again, Cully (16-0, 10 KO) did not waste time fiddling around with an over-matched opponent. He read quickly that Flores (10-1-1, 5 KO) wasn’t a threat, then lowered the boom in round two, scoring a pair of knockdowns for the finish.
Flores, 33, was not really near as credible an opponent as his “undefeated record” would lead one to possibly think, and truthfully, Matchroom need to step Cully up. He’s 27 years old and this is two straight opponents who really should not have been in a ring with Cully at all.
To his credit, Cully agrees. “I think it’s time for a proper step-up now, one of these big names, fringe world level guys. Let’s see where I’m at, and really make a name for myself in this division,” he said.
Cully will return on the Taylor vs Serrano 2 card on May 20. Maxi Hughes and Jorge Linares were mentioned as possible opponents, and both would be the proper next step. Eddie Hearn also suggested changing his nickname from “The Diva,” which is memorable and unique, to “The Nightmare,” which has been used 5,000 times and doesn’t stand out in this world at all.
@BoxerCully is a problem! #CullyFlores #WoodLara live on DAZN pic.twitter.com/iNtMLTelEB— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) February 18, 2023
Cheavon Clarke UD-10 Israel Duffus
Clarke (5-0, 4 KO) didn’t lose his stoppage streak through any lack of trying, as he put Duffus down four times — twice in the sixth, once in the eighth, and once in the 10th on what wound up the last punch of the fight. This also could have been stopped by the referee or corner at any point after the sixth, probably.
Scores were 98-88, 98-88, and 98-90. Bad Left Hook unofficially had it 98-88 for Clarke, too.
But give some credit to Duffus (20-9, 17 KO), who is really a light heavyweight and took this cruiserweight fight on very short notice, came to fight, did his best, took a lot of shots, and went the distance with Clarke, who not only went 10 rounds for the first time, but past round four for the first time.
That also meant Clarke, 32, was definitely huffing and puffing a bit in the back half, in part because of the distance, surely, but also just because he spent a lot of energy and pace trying to get Duffus out, and Duffus just wouldn’t stay down.
Listen, I’m just a lowly boxing blogsman and this cause does not have “goes viral” written on it or anything, but I feel like Matchroom should find Duffus another fight. Surely they have someone at 175 who could use a sturdy, savvy veteran gatekeeper opponent. He came in late, jumped up 25 lbs (saying “a division” doesn’t give it enough credit), and was there to fight. That deserves a second payday on a future card.
That @C4CHEV power ☠️#WoodLara pic.twitter.com/Y84nuAWevx— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 18, 2023
Clarke DOES now get the knockdown ✅#WoodLara pic.twitter.com/mV4nsfA9bE— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 18, 2023
The last punch of the fight @C4CHEV #ClarkeDuffus #WoodLara pic.twitter.com/fs3o6q94YZ— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) February 18, 2023
Diego Ruiz UD-10 Gamal Yafai
A dominant win for Ruiz, honestly, and a loss that should see the 31-year-old Yafai reconsider his career. To be entirely clear, because I know this confuses people sometimes: This is not the Yafai who lost to Chocolatito Gonzalez, that’s Khalid, and it’s not the Yafai who won gold in Tokyo, that’s Galal.
Gamal (19-3, 11 KO) has dreamed of a world title fight, but being fully honest and not trying to be “a hater,” it’s just not there. This is the third time he’s come up well short, and all of them well shy of true world level, against Gavin McDonnell, Jason Cunningham, and now Ruiz, who just added like four more fights to the bank of calls he’s going to get to fight in the UK, where he’s made a nice little career for himself.
Ruiz (24-6-1, 12 KO) was a +450 underdog here, which if you know boxing odds well, tells you that a fair amount of people liked the chance of an upset. The Argentine dropped Ruiz in the second, third, and 10th rounds, and while Yafai’s heart absolutely cannot be questioned, the home fighter was just beaten thoroughly over this fight, as hard as he tried to get into it.
This is Ruiz’s first win on UK soil in five attempts, as he’s now 1-3-1, including losses to Michael Conlan, Shabaz Masoud, and Jack Bateson, and a draw with Lee McGregor.
Yafai TOUCHES DOWN in round 3⃣ #WoodLara pic.twitter.com/H1hFuIUwUR— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 18, 2023
That Ruiz right hand #WoodLara pic.twitter.com/cvuVuojx3Q— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 18, 2023