When a big fight falls apart at the last minute, the undercard fighters are usually the fall guys.
When the eagerly awaited WBA light heavyweight title eliminator between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi was postponed earlier this week, it would have been no surprise had the entire show been shelved.
Thankfully, the undercard was saved and moved just a few miles north to the historic York Hall in Bethel Green.
At featherweight, Karriss Artingstall (5-0, 1 KO) got the show underway and remained unbeaten, taking apart Vanessa Bradford (7-5-2) in two one sided rounds.
Bradford found herself on the floor less than a minute into the fight. A sharp, straight southpaw left hand dumping her on the canvas in her own corner. Bradford never really got over it. Artingstall calmly stalked Bradford, landing virtually every shot she threw. Another hard left hand dropped Bradford in the second and after two torrid rounds, the Canadian was wisely retired in her corner. This was an impressive, ruthless performance from the
2020 Olympic bronze medallist.
The durable Canadian is a trier who generally comes unstuck when she steps up in level and she had no answer for Artingstall’s mixture of power and precision.
A fired up Joe Laws (14-2, 5 KO’s) stepped in on a few days notice to upset Michael Hennessy Jr (11-2-1, 2 KO’s) over eight entertaining rounds.
Hennessy Jr, 164lbs, was initially scheduled to take on Harley Benn but the Londoner’s late withdrawal gave Laws, 165lbs, the chance to reinvigorate his career.
Laws promised to bring it and make the most of his unexpected opportunity and he let his hands go in the opener, loading up on hooks and hoping to draw the taller, rangier Hennessy into a brawl. Hennessy calmed boxed his way through Laws’ flurries and by the end of the round he felt comfortable enough to drop his hands and pick away with straight shots as Laws allowed his back to hit the ropes.
Maybe worried about his fitness having taken the fight on short notice, Laws rationed his attacks more in the second. He did land a nice right hand but he wasn’t making Hennessy work hard enough for his own success. It was a controlled work from Hennessy began to put together short, sharp bursts of his own.
The pattern continued through the third, Hennessy seemed to have made a breakthrough as the round ended and he held his feet and let the punches go. Bravely, Laws dug his toes into the canvas and fired back.
Laws carried that momentum into the fourth. He neglected his jab but put everything into his sporadic bursts and – for the first time – Hennessy just began to look a little disorganized at times and seemed a little more focused on defense than his own attack.
Hennessy regained an element of control in the fifth but never looked totally comfortable and Laws snatched back the initiative in the sixth. Laws’ bursts may have been less frequent now but they were consistent and his shots were the more eye catching and Hennessy was giving up his physical advantages too easily.
Maybe realizing that the fight was in the balance, Hennessy upped his work rate in the seventh but every time he held his feet and put together more than a single shot, Laws fired back with his own shots. The man from Benwell did feel a body shot at the end of the round but retaliated with a hard right hand himself.
Just like the rest of the fight, the eight was a battle between Hennessy’s short, snappy punches and more correct boxing and Laws’ fully committed attacks and determination.
After eight rounds, Laws was given a 77-75 decision. Referee, Bob Williams, preferring Laws’ aggression and heavier, more eye catching work.