By Mark Whalley
- Brits fare well in season opener
- Stoppage wins for contenders Bellew and Murray
- Warrington shuts out Brunker in main event
Leeds, UK – There were comprehensive wins for British world title hopefuls Tony Bellew, Martin Murray and Josh Warrington in a Yorkshire card that kicked off the new boxing season.
Tony “Bomber” Bellew began the evening with a routine stoppage victory over Latvian Arturs Kulikauskis.
Bellew – looking in somewhat less than peak condition – took the fight at short notice, taking on a fighter ranked outside the world 200, with a record of 26 defeats and only 16 victories.
The end came in round five, with Bellew overwhelming his totally overmatched opponent with heavy shots, causing referee Steve Gray to stop the content. The left hand, in particular, had been causing Kulikauskis problems from the outset.
Having tuned up with some competitive action in only his second fight since last year, Bellew will surely now chase more illustrious opposition in an attempt to bring himself into contention for a world cruiserweight title tilt against the winner of Victor Emilio Ramirez vs Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
Meanwhile, Martin Murray continued his recent flurry of activity with a stoppage win over Jose Miguel Torres.
St Helens’ Murray looked considerably bigger at the weight than Torres, who at 36 years old is on the decline. Indeed, the Colombian showed little sign of wanting to be in the fight, going down several times under what felt like minimal pressure.
Murray has his eyes on another world title challenge, having previously come up short against Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez and, most recently, Gennedy Golovkin.
His next target appears to be Arthur Abraham, who is probably not in the same class as the aforementioned, but who looked excellent against Liverpool’s Paul Smith recently, so would represent an extremely tough challenge for Murray.
In the main event, hometown favourite Josh Warrington looked extremely sharp in defeating Australian Joel Brunker by unanimous decision.
Warrington undoubtedly started favourite, and so it proved to be justified, landing the crisper shots throughout, peppering the body and frustrating Brunker with a tight defense.
The three scoring judges agreed, all awarding the bout to Warrington 120-108.
The speculation is that Warrington is chasing Welshman Lee Selby – the IBF World featherweight champion. Warrington is not at Selby’s level yet, but on this display he is capable of causing “The Barry Boy Assassin” some trouble.