The boxing scene in the North of England is really booming, especially around the cities of Leeds and Bradford. One of the main reasons for the increase of professional boxing events in the area is due to Bradford’s very own reigning World Boxing Union (WBU), Global Boxing Union (GBU) and World Boxing Confederation (WBC) World Champion Tasif Khan, who for the past couple of years has been working closely with Leeds based promoter Bridie Murtagh to bring stylish Boxing Dinner Shows to the area.

The latest of these took place at the Royal Taj, formerly the Connaught Rooms, in Bradford, which not only featured the aforementioned Tasif Khan himself in action, against Tanzania’s Julias Kisarawe, but also heralded the return of unbeaten Lightweight prospect Justin Newell from Leeds, who faced Latvian Aleksandrs Birkenbergs

Besides the local lads on the card, exciting Super Welterweight prospect Chris Wood from Middlesbrough was in action against Belfast’s Marty Kayes, however two top class International bouts scheduled for the event, a ten round Middleweight contest between Ishmael Tetteh and Philip Kotey, as well as an eight round Welterweight contest between Frank Dodzi and Justice Addy, failed to materialise due to visas for three of the boxers failing to arrive in time.

Whilst disappointing that these two fights didn’t go ahead, there was more than enough action to keep the fans happy, as promoter Bridie Murtagh arranged for two exhibition bouts featuring local lads to replace the Internationals ahead of the pro element.

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First up was Chris Wood against Marty Kayes in a four rounder.

What a cracking start to the pro section, it was all action right from the opening bell, Wood was clearly fired up and went on the attack, closing down his far more experienced opponent before letting rip with a vast array of combinations at every conceivable opportunity. Kayes though is as savvy as they come, would cover up and seemed more than content to let the fired up youngster get his shots off before countering.

After four scintillating rounds the referee’s scorecard unsurprisingly read as a 40-36 points victory for the Teesider Chris Wood.

Next up was unbeaten Justin Newell in a six rounder against the very tough Latvian Aleksandrs Birkenbergs.

Newell was on fire, slick movement and very fast hands – Birkenbergs was no walk over and landed a cracking right hand about midway through the round, which lit the blue touch-paper for Newell, who went hard on the attack throwing some tasty big shots to body and head, which ultimately led to Birkenbergs taking a visit to the canvas. This kid’s tough, he was straight up and going toe to toe with Newell until the end of the round.

Round two was fantastic to watch, both lads giving no quarter – beautiful boxing from both, but Newell’s class proved just too much for the plucky Latvian as the Leeds lad piled some serious pressure in the second half of the fight before letting rip with big double handed salvos that sent Birkenbergs to the deck in the dying seconds of the round, no matter how hard he tried Birkenbergs just couldn’t make the count – great win on his return to the fray for Newell who won by TKO, the time would you believe 2 minutes and 59 seconds of round two.

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The headline fight see WBU, GBU and WBC World Champion take on Tanzania’s Julias Kisarawe in a ten round non-championship contest, instead of the scheduled twelve round World Boxing Confederation (WBC) Super Flyweight title defence for Khan, due to lateness of the visa arriving for Kisarawe to complete the necessary Championship paperwork for the contest to be sanctioned by the WBC.

First round started fast and see Kisarawe taking the fight to Khan, however the Bradford lad stood his ground and picked his shots for maximum effect
More of the same in round two, except this time it was Khan that took the fight to Kisarawe.

Round three see Khan really start to get in a flow, regularly backing his opponent up before letting rip with wickedly fast double handed salvos, the power and speed in Khan’s shots finally had the desired effect and the super tough Tanzanian took a very brief trip to the canvas.

On the restart Kisarawe went hard on the attack, throwing seriously solid lefts in an attempt to do unto Khan what the Bradford lad did to him moments before (with 14 KO wins on his record Kisarawe is very capable of doing just that)
Round four was an outright war and fascinating to watch, as was round five and six but for very different reasons. Khan stepped not just one gear but at least two or three and corralled the Tanzanian into a corner and just plain bombarded him with double handed Exocets throughout

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More of the same in round seven but this time Khan managed to penetrate Kisarawe’s world class defence and sent him to the canvas for the second time.
Kisarawe managed to make the count but it was clear for all to see that he was in some distress, so much so that referee James Ancliff had no option but to stop the contest on the one minute twelve second mark.

What followed then was a good thirty minute celebration in the ring by Tasif Khan, his team AND many of the fans!!!!

Have to say the Khan/Murtagh co-promoted shows I’ve attended have always been top class, however this event, even though a couple of fights short, was by far the best one yet, the fights were all beautifully matched all action affairs, what more could any fan of the pugilistic arts wish for. Can’t wait for the next, which I hear is going to be in December.

Report: Gianluca Di Caro