ROTHERHAM heavyweight Kash Ali headlines in Sheffield on Saturday night. Fightzone screens a show from Ponds Forge Arena that also features local favourite Tommy Frank facing Birmingham’s Matt Windle for the vacant British flyweight championship.
Frank-Windle is a tough one to pick, while Ali starts a warm favourite to beat former German champion Roman Gorst (7-1) over 10. In truth, it looks a good match for Ali, who’s coming off a confidence-boosting win in May. Tomas Salek came from the Czech Republic with a 15-2 (13) record, was a good size, and Ali thrashed him inside three rounds, bloodying his nose, cutting his eye and dropping him twice with uppercuts. That looks the best result on Ali’s 19-1 record.
The 29-year-old has won all four (three early) since he panicked against David Price in March, 2019, and got himself thrown out for biting. He possibly could have done with fights against Salek and Gorst – limited fighters with flattering records and leaky defences – to build belief before jumping in with Price.
Lee Carter (1-4), Phil Williams (1-4) and Colin Goldhawk (2-2) were no preparation for Price, but Ali was confident having sparred the Liverpudlian and there was possibly also the feeling that, after eight years as a pro, it was time to roll the dice.
Ali has since teamed up with trainer, and former heavyweight contender, Richard Towers, and their four fights together include a 58-57 win over domestic gatekeeper Kamil Sokolowski (8-16-2) that suggests there’s work to be done.
Sokolowski would be fancied to beat Gorst, a 32-year-old from Passau who has six early wins on his record, four inside two rounds. His limitations were exposed by Peter Kadiru (9-0) over 10 rounds last October.
The capable Kadiru has long arms and a tight guard and Gorst spent most of the fight either on the outside trying to avoid jabs or up close punching arms and gloves.
Gorst was shaken up a couple of times in the early rounds after being punished for throwing lazy jabs and after that, he didn’t throw many jabs and instead tried to rush Kadiru every now and then.
Nothing Gorst tried brought him much success and Kadiru may have forced the stoppage had he gone through the gears.
That loss cost Gorst, twice beaten by strong North Londoner Jeamie Tshikeva as an amateur, the German title he had won by outpointing Boris Estenfelder (11-1-1) on a split points vote.
Listed as 6ft 1ins on BoxRec, Gorst looks an inch or so taller than that, but still Ali has all the physical advantages. He has a fast, long jab that he will fancy he can use to keep Gorst on the outside and Ali will have noticed that Kadiru was able to run Gorst onto an uppercut in the last and shake him up. That’s a punch Ali used effectively against Salek and my guess is he can become the first to stop Gorst around the midway mark.
Frank (13-2) and Windle (6-3-1) know each other well having sparred numerous times, firstly when they were amateurs. Frank is coming off a narrow loss to Mexico’s Rosendo Hugo Guarneros (19-3-2) in their rematch in June that came seven days after Windle recorded the best win of his career. That 12-rounder with Neil McCubbin (5-0) at light-flyweight is a shoo-in for a top five spot in the domestic fight-of-the-year polls.
Both were shaken up and cut in the opening two rounds and the back-and-forth drama went on with Windle scoring a fifth-round knockdown and then having to hold in the ninth after being tagged. It was Windle who lasted the pace batter, keeping his boxing together in the last three rounds to win unanimously by scores of 114-113, 116-111 and 117-110.
Windle had lost his previous two, but the defeats to David Seymour and Ijaz Ahmed for the Midlands flyweight title were desperately close.
Ahmed last month drew with Quaise Khademi for the vacant British title up at 115lbs. Frank held the Commonwealth super-flyweight title, had a scare against Thailand’s Aran Dipaen (6-1) and dropped down to 112lbs.
He has a size advantage on Saturday night. At 5ft 7ins, Frank is three inches taller and while he has fought up at 115lbs, Windle scaled 107 ½lbs for his last fight.
Windle believes Frank will put it on him, the way he put it on Luke Wilton (20-5-1) when winning the vacant Commonwealth super-flyweight title in March, 2019, and expects the toughest fight of his career.
The Midlander will take confidence from the way Granados was able outwork Frank in their rematch. Windle showed against McCubbin that he can fight at a high tempo for 12 rounds, but we go for Frank’s size to be decisive.
At super-featherweight, Grimsby’s unbeaten Levi Giles is rightly the favourite to beat Willenhall’s Shaun Cooper in a 10-rounder for the vacant Midlands Area title. But this also represents a step up for Giles, 9-0 (3). Cooper, 10-2, has fought far better opposition and should not be written off.
The Verdict Solid domestic show with some top matchmaking from Jason McClory.