JE Promotions served up a seven-fight card at Mote Park on February 24, starting and ending with two cracking British Challenge belt contests.
The headliner featured two-time Southern Area contender and International Challenge belt winner Martin Hillman (10-5) and Chelmsford’s Tom McGinley (5-1) clashing for the British Challenge featherweight belt.
Both fighters operate under the JE Promotions banner, making it a refreshing fight for two prospects willing to risk it all in their respective careers.
Sidcup’s Hillman, 27, entered the bout as the favourite in his fifth fight at Mote Park, having had triple the experience in the paid ranks, and previously bagging the International Challenge belt at featherweight when he beat David Hoppal at the Prince Regent Hotel in Essex in February 2016.
He was twice unsuccessful when challenging for the Southern Area title at super-featherweight in 2016 against Matchroom prospect Boy Jones Jr and at featherweight in 2017 against two-weight Area titlist Jamie Speight.
In the away corner, Chelmsford’s McGinley lost on his debut in June 2016 after receiving cuts to both eyes, but has since reeled off four straight wins, culminating in a first-round knockout of debutant Kieran Holman last October, also at Mote Park.
The fight was stopped as soon as it started when McGinley’s gumshield was knocked out just seconds into the bout, seemingly caused by Hillman’s head. It was to be knocked out again in the last 30 seconds of the opener.
The action was explosive from the start, McGinley was straight on the front foot, but Hillman was getting the better of exchanges. The Sidcup man, in the home corner, momentarily had his opponent pinned to the ropes, while he unloaded a volley of unanswered shots. The favourite was a clear winner in the opening round.
In the second, McGinley came back into the fight and was scoring the more eye-catching punches, but it was a very even contest with shots fired both ways. Referee Kieran McCann had to stop the fight to take a look at a cut opened up above McGinley’s left eye.
In round three, the Essex puncher had found his rhythm and was overwhelming Hillman, who found it difficult to keep up with the pace set. In the following round, he was finally warned for leading in with his head and was forced to hold for most of the round.
The travelling fighter had got his tactics spot on and was the busier boxer throughout. Hillman was missing and the fitter McGinley was landing.
In round six, Hillman was busier and was successful in pushing back his aggressive opponent for the first time in the fight.
The penultimate round saw McGinley get back on top again to outwork his foe, who was looking haggard.
In the final round, it was only fitting for the pair to go out on their shields and finish the fight as it begun. The crowd were on their feet and showed their appreciation throughout the final three minutes of an all-out war between the 126-pounders.
The scorecards were read aloud as 77-75 to Tom McGinley.
The 30-year-old from Champions Gym had only taken part in four-rounders before this fight and looked like he could have carried on for many more rounds if he wanted to. This win now puts him in the mix for the Southern Area title, which Hillman’s previous conqueror, Jamie Speight, still holds.
The opening bout of the evening saw unbeaten lightweight prospect Luke Gibb (3-1) dropped in the first round of his British Challenge lightweight belt contest against Northern Area title contender Jordan Ellison (9-12), who went to claim a 78-74 victory from the away corner.
Chatham's Jordan Dennis (4-0) chalked up another points win against Callum Ide (0-9-2); light-heavyweight debutant Paul Brown (1-0) kicked off his pro career with a shutout points win over Scott Hillman (0-25); southpaw Charlie Shane moved up to 6-0; Chris Matthews (8-1) slipped to a defeat for the first time in his tqo-and-a-half-year career to Jules Phillips (2-12), who doubled his win tally.
Promoter Joe Elfidh purposely labelled the show Make or Break, he explained why, "I've built the fighters up now and some of them are 8-0 and they are getting to a stage now where they need 50-50 fights. I matched them all with tough fights and it was make or break for a lot of them to be able to get on to the next level. These are the type of tests these fighters need to be having in this stage of their careers."