The boxing exhibition which took place in Central Hall, proved to be an excellent venue as it provided a 270 degree view for the audience to see the ring, along with being very well lit and sounded thanks to the technical team.
The crowd was in store for six fights all lasting three rounds. Attendance was high, with a decently sized and vocal contingent from Lancaster but a passionate, hardy at times and almost unruly support base for the men in fighting for the White Yorkshire Rose. The stage was set and fighters ready to fight.
The first fight was fought between Labib Hoque (York) and Tengku Emery (Lancaster) at welterweight - and it was a quick one. Hoque was visibly stronger, as seen after the first exchange. Both men came out aggressive and swinging as soon as the bell sounded, but Hoque won the engagement, landing a hard and accurate left hook square to the face of Emery. This sent Emery barrelling to the ropes and prompted a standing count from the referee.
Emery was able to continue, but after the fighting resumed Hoque once again came forward, tasting blood in the air and smashed his opponent with left and right hooks, while Emery swung bravely back. However, this left Emery open for a counter right hand from Hoque which sent Emery straight to the canvas, nearly unconscious. A roar from the crowd erupted as Hoque got the KO win in flashy style, akin to Mike Tyson. Hoque couldn’t contain his excitement and jumped up onto the ring ropes to take in the crowd, immediately being detained by the referee for doing so. Both men gave respect to each other after the fight.
Fight two couldn’t have been set up better. The crowd was already alive and awake at 12pm, you could be mistaken for thinking it was the O2 arena on a Saturday night fight night. This fight saw Euan Clague (York) against Aimen Toguri (Lancs) at welterweight. Just like fight one, fight two began with both men coming out aggressively, with Clague seeming the braver of the two. But Toguri took his time to pick out shots and hit Clague with a clean straight right, bouncing Clague’s head back and prompting the referee to call a soft standing count, to which Clague was visibly frustrated.
Round 1 continued with Clague facing another standing count, as a result of the accurate shots which hit Clague clean in the head. Round 2 once again saw an aggressive Clague come out, but his shots couldn’t seem to hit the target and didn’t result in hits more often than not.
After powerful shots from Toguri were eaten by Clague, the referee started another standing count. Clague looked fine though and took clean shots to the face and temple like they were nothing. Although the fight was not going his way, Clague didn’t stop with his aggressive shots. Another exchange with Toguri and again Clague was hit multiple times in the head, right at the end of round 2. With this the referee decided he had enough and called the fight after another standing count, much to the disappointment of the crowd and Clague, who admittedly looked okay. But at this level and age you can never be too careful.
The fight ended at the end of round 2 with the referee stop contest. Credit to Toguri for coming to York and giving the Lancaster fans something to cheer for.
During the third fight, both Lancaster and York fans were jeering and cheering for their sides: Charlie Ridgeway (York) vs Tom Buckthorpe (Lancs) at light heavyweight. Ridgeway had real support in the crowd and worked it well.
Buckthorpe was the taller fighter with the longer reach. The bell rang and both men inched forward. Ridgeway ducked and weaved into range to land heavy shots on Buckthorpe. Buckthorpe shot jabbed to return fire and build range but Ridgeway was too quick and moved out of jabbing range, only to come in and dig a hard right hook into the face of Buckthorpe. The crowd erupted. In prior fights once fighters sensed a hurt opponent or heard the crowd cheer they would often continue to go forward and try and go for a finish, tiring them out and leading to scrappy boxing. Perhaps Clague was victim to this but Ridgeway showed experience and composure. He took a moment and then backed Buckthorpe into the corner, thudding shots onto Buckthorpe’s guard, who defended himself well.
The referee called a standing count on Buckthorpe who looked okay, but had bruised over the left side of his face. The action continued with a patient Ridgeway picking his shots. Another heavy flurry prompted another standing count on Buckthorpe. The crowd called out for blood.
Round 2 and Ridgeway found more accurate and heavy shots on Buckthorpe, who also landed some shots on Ridgeway. Buckthorpe couldn’t get his jab or lead hook going. It seemed as though Ridgeway ducked under his lead shots and came back with shots of his own. The referee gave another standing count to Buckthorpe and decided to call the fight. After the fight was called the crowd screamed out in support of their fighter, who put on a show and was visibly pleased, coming up into the crowd to embrace friends and his family. Credit once again to both fighters who put in work to be here for roses.
During the fourth fight, the atmosphere was on fire. York’s Mei Roberts took to fight Lancaster’s Mchamilton in a cruiserweight fight. Roberts was taller than his opponent and looked ready to fight. The fight opened aggressively once again, with Mchamilton getting into closer range with Roberts immediately to take away his reach advantage.
Roberts used his lead hand to try to create range and also find his range, but wild flurries from Mchamilton threw him off. This is where Roberts' long hair came out of its bun and made the referee stop the fight. Three York supporters hurried to Roberts’ aid in order to tie up his hair for him, but it kept coming undone and blocking Roberts’ vision across the fight. This caused the fight to be stopped many times in order to fix Roberts’ hair.
The Lancaster supporters had fun with this and started to jeer “shave it off!”, but they were soon drowned out by the York supporters. They were probably jealous of his luscious locks anyway.
Round 2 saw Mchamilton once again come out close to break Roberts' reach advantage and land wild shots on Roberts, to which Roberts responded with hard shots of his own. But he needed to let his right hand go. Roberts found range with his lead hand but couldn’t seem to fire the right at his opponent’s head. Mchamilton clearly had a game plan and it worked - he fought on the inside and it threw Roberts off.
Round three saw better results for Roberts and he went to the body and head, landing the better shots of the round, much to the pleasure of the crowd - who really got behind the man from York. Round 3 ended with the scores very close and the win went to the scorecards which saw Mchamilton win a unanimous decision, deservedly.
Fight 5 was set up to be a big one, but at this point there were no small fights, everyone was a treat. The fight was between Patrick Dosset of York and Rafel Thorne of Lancaster. Dosset had a large crowd support, with many friends in the crowd. Dosset had the eyes of a hunter and looked intimidating with his buzz cut. The light heavyweight bout started with clean jabs from Dosset who held his right hand close to his chin, loaded. Dosset had good success with his jab and danced around his opponent, Thorne, who took these shots well and looked tough. A lot of back and forth in this round but Dosset had found range with his jab and landed the better shots, much to the crowd's entertainment.
In Round 2 Thorne came out a little more aggressive. Thorne landed a few right hands that were taken by Dosset, who started releasing that right hand to the face of Thorne. Dosset was the one coming forward and had more for Thorne, who also ate shots well. It was at the end of round 2 that Dossets nose started bleeding, but it didn’t seem to bother the warrior.
Round three opened and both men were a little more tired. Thorne seemed to be more gassed, and Dosset continued to come forward to land shots. The crowd bolstered and lifted Dosset, giving power to each of his shots, but both the men’s (once clean) punching was reduced a little to more sloppy boxing. With the end of round three it was clear Dosset had come out on top, but not without being tested by a tough opponent. Another close and entertaining bout went to the scorecards which saw Dosset win by a unanimous decision.
To say every single previous fight up until this point was greatly entertaining would be an understatement, the crowd was given a real show by all boxers and bouts, but it came down to the main event of the afternoon: York's Tom Forsdick vs the president of Lancaster’s boxing society, Thomas Crawford. Both men were very intimidating cruiserweights. This one meant the most as it put Lancaster’s boxing society’s reputation on the line. It was bigger than these two men and the crowd knew it. This is what Roses was all about. Both sets of fans were loud in anticipation for this one. The bell sounded and both men came out.
As these two knew one another were experienced, both probably had respect for the power of each fighter. Forsdick made the first move coming forward with his jab. This led to an engagement where both men landed but not with too much power.
After a break from the action Crawford came forward to fight. Forsdick was quick and after blocking a punch by Crawford he saw his chance and landed a great left hook right on Crawford's jaw! Crawford came down to a knee and the crowd went wild. But Crawford was done. He ate the shot, moved to the corner and told the referee he was okay. But Forsdick wasn’t done. After a few seconds to let the crowd catch its breathe, Forsdick attacked and landed one or two clean shots to the head of Crawford. Crawford was wobbled and referee saw. After a standing count the referee waved it off, Forsdick had put together a great fight for the fans and won it via referee stoppage.
Once again he was berated with love from the crowd, with a rose even being thrown onto the ring, to which the showman Forsdick picked up and kissed. Credit has to be given to Crawford for his bravery and chin on taking such a solid shot to the chin clean.
In conclusion the afternoon was a complete treat and great entertainment. The crowd loved every minute and both sets of fans were great. Not a single technical issue, no one seriously hurt, and York coming out with 4 wins to 2. But winning isn’t everything and both teams of boxers have to be given great credit for putting in the work to get to Roses and having the confidence to go out there and put on the shows we fans got. Thank you to all those involved organising and a special shoutout to York's boxing society who did a great job organising a great event.