THE Commonwealth light-flyweight title will be contested for only the third time in the car park of Sheffield Arena this Friday (June 11). Dennis Hobson promotes the clash between Scotland’s Neil McCubbin and Englishman Matt Windle for a belt that has been vacant for more than three decades. The bout will be shown live on Fightzone.
The younger fighter by eight years at 22, McCubbin has won all five (one inside schedule), but is untested. Windle (5-3-1), meanwhile, appears fortunate to get the shot having suffered back-to-back defeats for the Midlands Area flyweight championship. The losses to David Seymour (7-1) and Ijaz Ahmed (5-1) were both close.
The Ahmed defeat in particular looked a lot closer than the 97-94 scoreline. Windle had Ahmed on the floor in the second in March 2019 and every round was competitive. Ahmed has gone on to beat Quaise Khademi (8-0) – a result that put him at No. 13 in the WBO ratings at 115lbs.
In contrast, Drongan’s McCubbin has only beaten one opponent with a winning record – Marius Vysniauskas (2-0). The Lithuanian waited until he was 31 years old to turn professional after a lengthy amateur career and though it is better for his bank balance that he loses rather than wins, he still takes some getting under control. He shared a round with McCubbin, probably the second when the Scot chose to stand and trade with him.
McCubbin says the fight with Windle “could be phone-box stuff” and that may not be in his best interests. Windle dropped Ahmed with a clean left hook and seems to do his best work at short and mid-range, while McCubbin is better when he gets his feet moving and has opponents at arm’s length.
“They say, ‘Don’t hook with a hooker,’” said Windle, “and if I was him, I wouldn’t trade hooks with me. But he can’t run away for 12 rounds and I think he likes a fight.”
McCubbin accepts that he gets dragged into punch-ups and though the temptation may be to try to push Windle back, he told Boxing News, “I need to move and ping him.”
Sam Mullan will be in McCubbin’s corner, as he has been since he started boxing aged 11. McCubbin had around 45 amateur contests, mostly at junior level, before making his pro debut a month after his 20th birthday, while Windle says most of his 60-plus amateur outings were senior bouts. The highlight was his silver medal at the 2015 Haringey Box Cup and he went on to turn pro with PJ Rowson later that year. That made headlines because Windle teaches poetry in schools and has twice been named Birmingham’s Poet Laureate.
There was a loss to Brett Fidoe (6-35-2) – a sparring partner ahead of Friday’s fight – and a draw with Pablo Narvaez (9-7-6). At championship level, Windle fell short by three and two points to Ahmed and Seymour respectively.
“I’m convinced I won both those fights,” said the Spencer McCracken-trained boxer. “I think this is fate, this is my time. I’m not thinking too much about how to win rounds on the scorecards, but I’m more confident of getting the right decision with three judges rather than just a referee.”
Because of the coronavirus, Windle has spent 19 months out of the ring. It is even longer since McCubbin last fought, repeating a points win against Steven Maguire (0-16) in his first fight over six rounds.
Windle wonders whether McCubbin has had the necessary seasoning ahead of this 12-rounder and there are so many other unknowns. Neither fighter has made 108lbs before, neither has been 12 rounds, McCubbin has yet to go past six.
We can predict with confidence that it will be a good fight and we go for McCubbin to win it on points.
Nottingham’s Derrick Osaze (10-0), who defeated Kieron Conway en route to winning the Ultimate Boxxer tournament in May 2019, and Tyler Denny (12-2-2), a polished southpaw from Rowley Regis, meet over 10 rounds in the middleweight chief support.
Denny, beaten by Reece Cartwright and Linus Udofia in English title fights, is possibly better suited to the 10-round distance and can claim a decision victory.
The Verdict It will be interesting to see how McCubbin handles the step up to championship level.