Joe Joyce KO 10 Kash Ali; Heaney and Pauls Fight to a Stalemate in a Thriller


By Arne K. Lang

Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions was at Resorts World in Birmingham tonight with a card chock-full of former and current British domestic title-holders. From an international perspective, the most relevant bout was on the undercard where Joe Joyce returned to the ring against former sparring partner Kash Ali.

The six-foot-six, 38-year-old Joyce weighed a career-high 287 pounds and looked even slower than normal in his first fight without trainer Ismael Salas with whom he had a relationship dating back to his amateur days. Kash Ali, who brought a 21-2 record, landed a few overhand rights, but no combinations and was seemingly intent on lasting the distance which he almost accomplished. There were less than 20 seconds remaining in the round when the ever-stalking Joyce landed the finisher, a straight right hand that put Ali down for the count. The official time was 2:53.

It was the ending that Joyce needed coming off back-to-back losses to Zhilei Zhang. Writing in the London Mirror, Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan put this match-up in perspective: “This is about building [Joe Joyce] up for the last dance…The goal is to get him a couple of easy wins and then throw him a bone against one of the big boys.” That big boy, intimates McGuigan, may be Deontay Wilder.

Main Event

Nathan Heaney is a promoter’s dream; he sells tickets. Tonight the 34-year-old over-achiever entered the ring to a rousing chorus of Tom Jones’ “Delilah,” the anthem of his beloved Stoke City Football Club. Heaney was defending the BBBofC middleweight title he won with an upset of Denzel Bentley. He was a heavy favorite over Brad Pauls whose 18-1 record was built largely on the backs of professional losers. But Pauls was no easy out and he fought Heaney (18-1-1) to a stalemate in 12 action-packed frames that had the crowd on its feet in the championship rounds.


Pauls had the best rounds of the fight. He hurt Heaney in the eighth and again in the 11th, but it was too late to overcome Heaney’s early lead and the match ended in a stalemate. The judges had it 116-113 (Heaney), 115-114 (Pauls), and 114-114.


Fan favorite Liam Davies (16-0, 8 KOs) turned in the most impressive showing of the night with a second-round blast-out of Erik Robles (15-2) to win a fringe super bantamweight title. Davies, 27, collapsed Robles with a right uppercut and tagged him with a left hook as he was falling. The official time was 1:17 of round two.

Robles came to the UK last year and upset Josh Taylor’s stablemate, the previously undefeated Lee McGregor, in Scotland. As a pro, he had fought mostly in Tijuana, embossing the reputation of B-side “opponents” from that hardscrabble northern Mexico city. But tonight, Robles ran into a buzzsaw to the great delight of the crowd. If the intrepid Davies had his druthers, his next bout would come against Naoya Inoue.


In his second fight back since suffering a broken hand in his eliminator vs. John Ryder, Zach Parker improved to 25-1 (18) with a 10-round decision over Germany’s Tyron Zeuge. The Judges had it 09-91, 97-92, and 96-94. Zuege (27-2-1) hurt him in the second round with a short right hook and a follow-up salvo resulted in a knockdown when Parker’s gloves touched the canvas. But from that point on, Parker was never in jeopardy.

Zeuge once held the WBA super middleweight title, a diadem he lost to unexceptional Rocky Fielding. A plodder, he didn’t look well-conditioned.

Super bantamweight Dennis McCann (15-0-1, 8 KOs) kept his undefeated record intact with a wide 12-round decision over Liverpool’s previously undefeated Brad Strand (12-1) who did well in the late rounds but had a large hill to climb after being put on the deck with a left-right combination in the opening round. The judges had it 119-110, 116-111, and 116-112.

McCann, an Irish Traveler, is a roofer by trade, an occupation he took up at the age of 11. His previous fight was a barnburner with Ionut Baluta that was stopped by the ring physician after nine torrid rounds and went into the books as a technical draw. Tonight, he had a much easier go of it.

The lid-lifter was a well-matched junior welterweight affair between Dublin’s Pierce O’Leary and Belgium’s Hovhannes Martirosyan. It appeared that it would end early when O’Leary put Martirosyan on the canvas in the opening round with a left hook, but the Belgian fought his way back into the fight and trailed by only 1 point on two of the scorecards through eight rounds.

In the ninth, O’Leary closed the with another show with another left hook. Martirosyan, bleeding from a bad cut around his left eye, wasn’t able to beat the count. Reportedly 140-10 as an amateur, O’Leary, 24, improved to 14-0 (8 KOs). The heavy-handed Irishman takes a good punch, but takes too many of them. It was the first pro loss for Martirosyan (16-1) who was making his first start outside Belgium.
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