BOXXER London: Azim outboxes durable Reyes, after Chelli and Denny earn comfortable decision wins

Light-welterweight prospect Adam Azim improved to 8-0 and won his first professional title with a lopsided UD win over Santos Reyes. Beforehand, Viddal Riley passed his latest cruiserweight test and Zak Chelli outboxed a frustrating American over 10 rounds after Tyler Denny successfully defended his English middleweight title against a competitive Brad Pauls showing.

azim scores knockdown, remains unbeaten against santos reyes

Azim scored a second-round knockdown, but Reyes held firm to give the 20-year-old ten rounds

100-89, 100-89, 100-89 unanimous decision:
Adam Azim bt. Santos Reyes, wins vacant WBA Continental light-welterweight title

  • “I rate it [my performance] an eight out of 10, never seen someone [at my experience level] face a 12-0 guy, thought he was gone after the knockdown! I knew, guys from that part of the world, are durable,” Azim reflects on his display in ringside interview afterwards
  • Azim’s head trainer, Shane McGuigan was content with his charge: “It’s definitely what we wanted, got a knockdown, got the rounds, he [Reyes] had a tight guard, pushed him back. We’re doing rounds in the gym, but this gives us the chance to showcase it on the live stage,”

It wasn’t the electrifying knockout display many have come to expect, but Adam Azim answered questions about his durability over 30 minutes against a tough opponent who refused to relent – when it would’ve been easy to do so – earning a dominant decision win in the night’s main event.

Azim quickly asserted himself, landing a low body shot and two-punch combos, making the Nicaraguan feel his power and speed as soon as possible. Pawing out the jab to good effect, Reyes wasn’t using the lull periods where Adam wouldn’t throw well enough to worry him.

Jabbing and moving to good effect in R2, Azim kept his distance whenever he felt his back up against the ropes and soon enough would land the shot he was setting up: an overhand right, wobbling the visitor backwards as he staggered to the canvas – scoring a knockdown.

The fog cleared well enough for him to finish the round, though there was an overwhelming sense that Azim’s power meant he could end the night with a highlight KO whenever he wanted.

Picking his punches cleverly in the third, Reyes bit on all of his feints as he forayed forward and absorbed a series of body attacks by the 20-year-old. In the fourth, Azim’s piercing jab helped him set up more spiteful punches: a left hook, short uppercuts and more body work to boot.

He was caught upon occasion in R5, such is the inevitability when you’re constantly the aggressor against someone with a high guard trying to perfectly time their counterpunches.

Reyes had his best round in the sixth, connecting clean on two left hooks which Azim absorbed well and fired back swiftly – though he was shaking out his right hand at the round’s conclusion.

It had taken a while but Reyes’ confidence was growing, as he smiled and was able to land his own attacks with more regularity – that defensive stance remained, along with a durable chin.

Azim mixed up the tempo of his punches, whipping some quite quickly and deliberately taking time with others, as Reyes landed a oooh-eliciting left hand with Azim’s chin up high to finish R7.

The same happened in the final 20 seconds of R8, Azim again landing the cleaner work during what was a messier round but one that Reyes found success with his looping left hand.

Keep going was the cry from the Wembley Arena crowd, who were thirsty for a furious finish and Azim continued to fleetingly threaten one: connecting on lefts and rights, before slowing down.

He appeared to be shaking out his right hand between rounds, briefly wincing with discomfort, and that wouldn’t have helped as far as trying to find the finishing sequence. Afterwards, he confirmed a wrist injury that needs further investigation with MRI scans to come.

Into the tenth and final round they went, Azim accelerating his attacks as Reyes maintained his high guard while refusing to waver despite more damage raining down on him. More left-hand punches connected clean, whipping across his bruised face, and still he kept coming for more.

chelli outboxes sims jr, who lacked urgency when most needed

Chelli is held up in celebration by his head trainer and father Sr, after his UD win over Sims

99-92, 98-92, 98-92 UD:
Zak Chelli bt. Anthony Sims Jr, wins vacant WBA Continental super-middleweight title

In the night’s co-main event, super-middleweight contender Zak Chelli virtually pitched a shutout against Anthony Sims Jr, whose pedestrian pace for sustained periods was alarming in moments where he could’ve otherwise caused damage and followed up with more punches.

Chelli established himself as the aggressor in the first four rounds, landing clean work with consistency as Sims Jr idled by, connecting on counters but not much else. After being warned for rabbit punching in R2, the American’s attempts at rough-housing weren’t working.

Chelli landed a big shot in R4 and continued applying pressure with more accurate punch output as it seemed he’d ease to victory. Then, out of the blue, round eight happened.

They exchanged furiously to start it, Sims having the better of their short punch combos before manhandling him to the canvas and being sternly warned by the referee – not for the first time.

Was the home hopeful physically spent or hurt by a punch most didn’t see? Where was this aggression from Sims earlier, considering he was down considerably on the scorecards?

Chelli produced a big ninth in response, digging deep to the body and threatening a stoppage with the American pinned up against the ropes at one stage. He held firm in the face of adversity and landed slick counters, but the 27-year-old needed a KO as they headed to the final round.

There was no such worry for the Fulham resident, again landing the bigger punches, snapping the American’s head back with uppercuts and straight shots in the final half-minute.

Riley’s stinging right hand sees him stop gamely Taj

Riley’s right hand landed plenty on Taj, who had a bright round two but absorbed too much damage

R4, 0:04 – Viddal Riley bt. Anees Taj via doctor stoppage, improves to 8-0

  • “It’s not the way I pictured the finish! It was my first eight-rounder, I said it wouldn’t go the distance and it didn’t. I need to be challenged, so I can be ready for the level up,” Riley said in his ringside interview, revealing his desire for a quick turnaround and more activity

Anees Taj billed this as Viddal Riley’s toughest test at cruiserweight to date, but the signs in that regard were far from promising in the early going. Increasingly red after eating one too many sharp jabs in R1, Taj needed to adjust or capitalise on Riley’s tendency to overextend wildly.

He did so in the latter stages of the second, much to the crowd’s delight, as they wanted to see a back-and-forth clash between two heavy hitters. A series of Riley’s powerful right hooks early in the third rather quietened the noise, getting back to basics and repeatedly landing with success.

Taj was sporting a nasty cut on his left eye and unsurprisingly, referee Bob Williams called for the ringside doctor to assess the damage. He deemed it too much to continue, and it was stopped.

Denny dices another unbeaten record, outpoints Pauls

Denny (right) landed early and often against Pauls, who was competitive but found himself outworked

97-93, 97-93, 98-92 UD: Tyler Denny (c) bt. Brad Pauls, retains English middleweight title

Brad Pauls was competitive, but firmly second best against Tyler Denny as the 31-year-old southpaw boxed well throughout en route to a comfy decision win in his second title defence.

He should fight the Denzel Bentley vs. Kieran Smith winner for the British strap, scheduled for April 15 on the Joe Joyce vs. Zhilei Zhang card, after again outworking a highly-rated opponent.

Denny was typically busy behind the jab early on, while Pauls tried to counter on the back foot with success late in R1. Whether it was enough to swing the judges’ scorecards, that sequence ultimately wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things – being reactive rather than proactive.

In fairness, Pauls got going in the second and largely had the better exchanges, though Denny finished strong with a few big body shots. Denny’s corner audibly called for more activity and urgency from their charge, as Pauls landed a few sneaky shots but was smothering his work.

He was duly punished for it: a left-right combo staggered him briefly, so Denny ended another competitive round stronger. Denny started to connect with increased confidence in the fourth, body and head shots in flurries while Pauls’ conservative approach hurt him as time wore on.

caroline crunches negative mashaury display

Caroline had two opponents pull out in quick succession, so faced a negative Mashaury instead

R3, 0:47 – Caroline Dubois bt. Feriche Mashaury via TKO, improves to 6-0 (5 KOs) 

It’s perhaps telling that Feriche Mashaury’s best punch of the evening was landed after referee Howard Foster had already seen enough and stepped in to stop what was truthfully a one-sided beatdown by rising lightweight contender Caroline Dubois from the first bell to a R3 TKO win.

The Tanzanian, who has fought four UK fighters who’ve since become champions in the last four years, absorbed far too much damage for comfort and was almost immediately on the back foot.

In terms of resistance… Dubois had little to worry about, and knew as much beforehand – two prospective step-up opponents both withdrew on short-notice – so this matchup was the best she could get, given they did everything to ensure she’d still be on the card as planned.

She landed a combo of body attacks early in the second round, stalking her prey and eventually scoring a knockdown – it could’ve easily been stopped there, as Mashaury wasn’t giving convincing body language. Eventually it was, and it’s clear Caroline needs to be pushed further.

Undercard results, including stoppages for Azim and McKenna

Stephen McKenna improved to 13-0 after earning a fourth-round stoppage against Brendon Denes

Jordan Reynolds started what he hopes to be a busy 2023 campaign in style, improving to 5-0 as a pro after logging a R6 finish against Mohammed Cherif Benchadi at super-middleweight.

After peppering the jab early on while connecting with stiff and short shots, he looked to pick apart the Frenchman’s high guard and walked him into the corners without fuss.

He scored a knockdown early in R2 after landing a sweet right hand on Benchadi’s chin, though his corner immediately urged him to box clever – not get overeager in search of a finishing shot.

Uppercuts and straight shots left the 38-year-old on wobbly legs, as Reynolds targeted the body and head in equal measure.

By round four, it was clear he had a tendency to let him off the hook with periods of inactivity by admiring his work whenever landing a big shot while failing to counterpunch his way into range despite seeing the wild swings whiff past him whenever he landed a series of shots.

Concentrate was the call from his corner in the fifth, as you could see he felt content with things at the pace they were. Able to fight at his own intensity, the crowd urged him to find a finish – he did so in the sixth as referee Foster waved it off after unloading a barrage of punishment.

Irish rising welterweight Stephen McKenna needed four rounds to dispatch Brendon Denes, though a bold callout of Conor Benn callout is perhaps the biggest headline from his latest win.

After his last appearance in late July on the BOXXER Bournemouth card headlined by Billam-Smith vs. Isaac Chamberlain, it was another finish as the challenges continue to intensify.

Welterweight prospect Hassan Azim has logged rounds aplenty of late, but boxed like he had no time to waste against Abdallah Luanja in what was scheduled to be his third six-round clash.

This sequence moments after the first bell proved to be the beginning of the end for Luanja:

Meanwhile in the evening’s final prelim clash, Jeamie Tshikeva narrowly edged past Harry Armstrong via decision (77-75) in the battle of two unbeaten heavyweights.

It had the makings of a real slobberknocker early on, with both landing haymakers and unwilling to concede centre ring – but the 29-year-old’s volume and cleaner punches were pivotal.

Elsewhere, Maida Vale’s Razor Ali improved to 7-0 and was good value for the first stoppage victory of his career… a third-round finish against Mexico’s Hector Lozano at featherweight:

Picture source: Lawrence Lustig / BOXXER


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