Birmingham prospect Shakan Pitters (10-0) was crowned the winner of Ultimate Boxxer II after defeating Scunthorpe’s Dec Spelman (14-2) in the final by way of unanimous decision at the O2 Indigo in London on Friday night.
Standing at 6ft 6in tall, Pitters ensured distance control was his best friend as he added an impressive three wins in one night to his professional record.
Spelman, who had made clear he was fighting in tribute to Scott Westgarth, would offer Pitters his biggest test on paper, but this did not phase the 29-year-old who dropped ‘Kid Nytro’ in the opening round.
Before the knockdown, both fighters approached the opening round quite warily, with Spelman having never experienced someone as long and rangey as Pitters before, whilst the Birmingham boxer was getting to grips with someone as front-foot heavy and hard-hitting as Spelman.
The Scunthorpe man beat the count and spent the second-round trying to close the range and launch punches on the inside, but this was handled well by the Birmingham giant, who kept him at arm's length as well as replying with scoring shots to the body and head.
With the knockdown and a successful second-round, it was clear Pitters didn’t want to take unnecessary risks, as Spelman began to apply pressure in an attempt to force the action, but ultimately it wasn’t enough with the Midlander clinching the points win and being presented the Golden Robe by former two-weight world champion and boxing legend Ricky Hatton.
Inevitably, Pitters will be looking to fight for titles in the near distant future, with the winner of Joel McIntyre against Miles Shinkwin for the English title a possible avenue to take.
Dec Spelman v Joel McIntyre
Dec Spelman booked his place in the Ultimate Boxxer II final after securing a majority decision win over Portsmouth’s Joel McIntyre.
Both fighters started the contest cautiously, with McIntyre playing patient, appearing to be happy to wait for Spelman to fall in with shots, so that he could score counter blows.
The second round provided all-out action as Spelman reverted to his aggressive come-forward style, which found success early on as he wobbled the former English light heavyweight champion against the ropes, however, being so aggressive led to big openings which 'El Toro' exploited, as a counter right hand floored the Scunthorpe man.
Spelman appeared to be hurt again after a temporary switch to the southpaw stance saw McIntyre find success with the backhand left shot, but this was soon replied with by a counter right hand that sent the Portsmouth man crashing to the canvas, albeit the shift of stance causing him to be momentarily off-balance.
The third round produced an almost carbon copy of the opening three minutes, as both fighters fought behind their jabs with no man scoring anything successful. McIntyre did take the centre and looked the aggressor in the third and final segment, but his pawing of the left hand to measure the distance and set up a shot came to nothing as he never let his right hand go.
A fight that could have gone either way and looked almost impossible to score with three completely even rounds actually saw Spelman advance to the final stage of the competition as the judges seemingly took a preference to his performance.
Shakan Pitters v Georgii Bacon
Pitters secured a second-round stoppage victory over big outsider Georgii Bacon, as he progressed to the final with relative ease.
The Birmingham-born fighter made good use of the large reach advantage he enjoyed over all competitors in the tournament, keeping Bacon at range and launching powerful combinations to the body and head when the Cheshunt man was falling short.
It wasn’t only the shot selection, but it was also the lateral movement deployed by Pitters, coupled with the long distance that was proving to be a nightmare for the 23-year-old.
Bacon’s only chances of success were reduced to short flurries when Pitters appeared to be taking a rest on the ropes, but these shots appeared to be caught and parried before being answered to with long crafted punches.
The second round saw Pitters begin to fire his jab to Bacon’s body, as he identified this area as a potential weakness.
As Bacon’s guard started to become non-apparent, Pitters proceeded to whip in body shots with both hands, which led to a knockdown.
The 23-year-old from cheshunt beat the count but was then sent crashing back down with another hard left hook to the mid-section, a shot that this time, he could not recover from. It was a extremely dominant, one-sided victory for the Midlander.
The quarter-final matchups produced arguably the hottest action of the night – here is a summary of all the fights to take place in this round:
Joel McIntyre v Darrel Church
30-year-old McIntyre recorded a comfortable points decision over ‘Dazzling’ Darrel Church in the opening fight of the night.
The Essex man got off to a horrid start as he found himself on the canvas in the opening round, after walking onto a straight right hand by McIntyre, after Church was looking to land a one-two combination.
Having beat the count, Church was wary about being overly aggressive in the next round, as he didn’t want to be a repeated offender of over committing against such a good and experienced counter-puncher.
McIntyre continued to box to orders and wait for Church to make another mistake, but the 29-year-old was not doing enough work to win the rounds or force the Portsmouth-born light-heavyweight to issue any openings.
All three judges scored the bout 30-26, with McIntyre winning comprehensively.
Dec Spelman v Sam Horsfall
In arguably the fight of the night, Dec Spelman stopped 2-0 prospect Sam Horsfall with a brutal second round knockout.
With Spelman possessing much more experience in the paid ranks than his opponent, he mindfully used this disparity to start the contest aggressively and overpower Horsfall, as he pushed the 25-year-old continuously back onto the strands.
Horsfall was also prone to getting hit with the counter left hook when he responded to the ambush of punches Spelman was throwing at him.
Round two saw Spelman’s loyalty to the left hook rewarded with Horsfall being on the receiving end of a knockdown.
Although young and inexperienced, this did not demoralise the Surrey light-heavyweight who went on to fight fire with fire, noticeably rocking Spelman and forcing him to wilt back to the ropes.
An onslaught of punches by Horsfall was dealt with yet another counter left hook administered by Spelman, which scored another knockdown.
With Horsfall shakily getting back to his feet, the Scunthorpe man ran towards his opponent to finish the job and let go a thudding left hand to finish an explosive fight in devastating fashion. It was a knock out that immediately saw the towell thrown in by the corner and one that will be replayed for many years to come.
Jordan Joseph v Georgii Bacon
Late replacement opponent Georgii Bacon, who took injured John McCallum's place, recorded a controversial split decision victory over Hemel Hempstead’s Jordan Joseph.
The Don Charles protégé was dropped by his opponent inside the opening 10-seconds of the bout, with a straight right hand doing the damage for the tournament outsider Bacon.
The knockdown seemed to wake Joseph up, who went on to fire back shots of his own, which led to him scoring a knockdown of his own with a thudding right hand that landed just as Bacon was about to launch an uppercut of his own.
Joseph ended the first round strongly, at one stage looking as if he was going to inflict a stoppage on his opponent, but Bacon saw out the final seconds.
The Cheshunt man started the second round well, sending Joseph back to the ropes with powerful shots, but this was again answered with interest by Joseph, who has fellow contestant Darrel Church as a scalp on his record, as both fighters exchanged brutal blows.
The third and final round saw a less dramatic three-minute window compared to the first two, with Joseph looking to pick his shots more whilst Bacon appeared to only be looking for power punches.
In what was clearly the closest fight of the night, two of the judges saw it Bacon’s way as the John McCallum substitute proceeded into the next round of the tournament.
Shakan Pitters v Sam Smith
Shakan Pitters got off to a winning start against Swindon’s 'Sniper' Sam Smith, winning a unanimous decision.
Smith started the fight brightly, as he appeared to be boxing to the orders of trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick, unwilling to fall in with shots as well as slipping Pitters’ jabs effectively.
These tactics however could not be delivered with as much effectiveness in the second round, as Smith fell short with a jab and was subsequently countered with a left hook and right hand combination, flooring the ‘Sniper’.
Smith decided to respond with punches of his own as oppose to covering up and seeing out the round, which saw him dropped once again by a counter-punch – this time an uppercut superbly executed by Pitters.
With two knockdowns and one more round remaining, it seemed that Pitters didn’t want to risk injury or fatigue before going into his inevitable semi-final clash, so proceeded to fight on the backfoot for the last round and ensure that he was not going to get enticed into a war, sensibly.
Completing a night of bumper boxing action was Love Island contestant Idris Virgo who extended his unbeaten record to 3-0-0 after outpointing opponent Vaidas Balciauskas over four rounds.