Travis Dickinson emerges the winner in bizarre and drama filled Prizefighter Tournament
By Iain Dolan at ringside, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 31, 2011)
On Friday night, Durham's Travis Dickinson emerged as the deserving winner of a bizarre and drama filled Prizefighter tournament at Kensington Olympia on Saturday night. Moving from its usual London home of York Hall, a big and vociferous crowd was in attendance to see the action unfold. Dickinson (12st 8lbs 12oz), faced a substitute, Sam Couzens from Hampshire in the final as Tony Dodson's cut was deemed too bad for him to take his place in the opposite corner.

Couzens (12 st 7lbs 6 oz) came flying out at the opening bell intent on grabbing his opportunity and threw a big left hand. However, Travis fought fire with fire and it didn't take long for the Durham man's superior class to become apparent. The pair engaged in a war of attrition from the off with the cleaner shots from both hands always coming from Dickinson. Sam had his successes but was often taking a couple to land one of his own. Hooks from both hands from Travis, stopped Sam in his tracks whenever he tried to exert any pressure.

Dickinson stepped up the pace in the 2nd round showing no signs of having fought 6 more rounds than Couzens. More left hooks and straight rights had Couzens visibly shaken and then midway though the round another left hook sent Couzens stumbling across the ring and onto a knee. Although he beat the count Sam was on very shaky legs and referee Phil Edwards decided that he was unfit to continue, handing Dickinson the title. Travis was joined in the ring for the celebrations by brother John-Lewis who is also a Prizefighter winner.

The Semi finals were no less fraught and Liverpool's Tony Dodson (12st 9lbs 5oz) triumphed in a brawl with the flashy Menay Edwards from Crayford, only to be denied his place in the final, not to mention tilt at £32K, by his 2nd nasty cut of the evening. Tough and experienced, Dodson opened strongly and took the centre of the ring ans the rangy and awkward Edwards looked for openings from the outside. Both loaded up with power shots when they came together and a left hook from Dodson had Edwards on a knee midway through the first round. Dodson followed up with uppercuts as he trapped Edwards on the on the ropes. Menay came back and a wide left hook opened a second cut over Tony's right eye and it was a nasty one. Dodson was still the boss throughout the 2nd but the cut was clearly causing him problems as he again forced Edwards onto the ropes, looking for a finish. He didn't manage it in the 2nd, but two left hooks and a huge right in the first few seconds of the 3rd put Edwards on his back and ended proceedings. It was a finish of the highest class and real shame that Dodson was unable to take his rightful place in the final because of the cuts.

Travis Dickinson beat the first sub of the night in the other semi final in the shape of Rhyl's Justin Jones. A broken hand suffered by Jack Morris during the 1st quarter final eliminating him from the tournament. Jones (12st 8lbs 8oz) looked neat and tidy behind a high guard but failed to pose any real threat to Dickinson who landed the more solid shots throughout, forgoing the use of the jab and working almost exclusively with power shots. Not an unusual tactic in Prizefighter where there's only 3 rounds to catch the judges eyes. The left hooked scored well for Travis over all three rounds and with Jones unable to create any real trouble for Dickinson, a predictable 30-27 on all three cards was the result.

Most entertaining bout of the quarter finals was undoubtedly Menay Edwards against big hitting Joe Smyth (12st 8lbs 11oz) from St Albans. Smyth had the tighter guard and threw more accurate shots which landed with greater frequency than Edwards' wild swipes, although Menay was a constant threat with speed and awkward punching angles. They went to to toe in the opening round and Edwards was wobbled a couple of times by hooks from Smyth. Menay established a bit more of a jab at the start of the 2nd and rocked Smyth with a big right. Menay lookd to capitalise but walked onto a big right when Joe had his back to the ropes. Just as Edwards looked in dire trouble, he came roaring back and sent Joe stumbling across the ring with a barrage of blows and had the composure to find a big right down the middle that caused the referee to step in.

Sadly either the result of this fight or maybe just the exciting nature of it triggered a fairly major crowd disturbance that did make for a rather muted atmosphere for the remainder of the night. A pity because the arena had been buzzing, in a good way, beforehand.

The opening bout of the evening saw Romford's Billy Slate (12st 8lbs 12oz) tangle with Margate's Jack Morris (12st 9lbs 12oz). Morris shaded the opener but then fell away allowing Slate to take control of the last two rounds. Apparently it was in the first round that Morris damaged his hand, but I still think Slate is entitled to feel slightly aggrieved that he lost out on a split decision at the end of the three rounds.

Coventry's Llewellyn Davis(12st 8lbs 6oz) was the first test for Travis Dickinson and probably his toughest fight of the night. Travis had Davies on the floor in the first with a crisp right hook leaving Llewellyn with a mountain to climb. He was always in the contest but Dickinson was far busier and did the much cleaner work to earn a unanimous points decision.

The other quarter final was an ugly but compelling blood bath between Tony Dodson and Michael Banbula (12st 7lbs 3oz) from Staines. Both fighters were not shy with their heads resulting in nasty cuts for both before the end of the first round! Dodson was the superior technician and despite Banbula's awkwardness and rugged bravery, deserved the unanimous decision.

The Prizefigher series continues to be successful and entertain the audience. It was sad to see crowd trouble which really is a rarity at boxing in London but the action in the ring was compelling as ever. Perhaps a tweak to the format where the losing fighter (if fit to compete) is give then change to progress instead of a sub might be considered instead of having a substitute go straight into the final?

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