Sunday, 26 February 2012

David Williams's Welsh Boxing Blog - No. 6

WITH finger nails having already taken a pounding during the Twickenham drama a few hours before, it was perhaps a good thing all round for Welsh sports fans that Nathan Cleverly’s successful defence of his world title was about as one-sided as you can get.

With the home crowd at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena still on cloud nine following Wales’s Triple Crown triumph at HQ, Cleverly completed his part of the bargain in a potential and historic Welsh sporting treble ahead of Sunday’s Carling Cup final between Cardiff City and Liverpool.

He may not have been as sharp and eye-catching as one might have hoped on what was his long-awaited homecoming bout in the principality, but WBO king Cleverly got the job done, maintained his unbeaten record and kept up his hopes of a summer unification showdown with another one of the light-heavyweight division’s big hitters.

By the end of the 12 rounds against game American opponent Tommy Karpency, it didn’t need one of the Welshman’s newest fans, ringside spectator Carol Vorderman, to tell you that the numbers on the judges’ scorecards would add up heavily in Cleverly’s favour.

In fact, all three scored the fight 120-108, and in truth, it was one of the easiest world title fights they will ever have to judge.

That’s not to say Karpency didn’t have his moments. With the strains of ‘Land Of My Fathers’ only just over, the American, a psychiatric nurse by day, seemed to stun Cleverly momentarily with his first punch of the night - at the post-fight press conference the champion actually said Karpency was the toughest man he’d fought.

But after that very brief show of Karpency power it was all one-way traffic though at times you could sense the crowd wanted a big KO to round the day off in style.

By the middle rounds, Karpency looked to be blowing hard but in fairness he found a second wind from somewhere and from about round nine you could feel it was going the distance.

There were a couple of times when Cleverly forced his man into the corner and unleashed several barrages of punches but with a jaw like the American’s it was clear it would take something extra special to put him down.

The important thing though for ‘Clev’ was that he made it 24 undefeated contests as a pro and it was amazing to think that at the same venue just five years earlier he’d been appearing on the undercard of an Enzo Maccarinelli world title bout and now roles had been reversed.

So, what next? Well, promoter Frank Warren has booked the Royal Albert Hall for a show on April 28, the same night that Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson lock horns in their rematch in the States.

Warren and Cleverly clearly want Hopkins next, ideally in Cardiff, but it’s difficult to say what the 47-year-old American veteran will want to do should he win or lose against Dawson.

One thing is for sure, Cleverly, and Welsh boxing, are both in a good place right now and a sell-out crowd on Saturday night simply goes to show that the sport has someone who can take it forward after its recent bad press.

Before the main event, there were wins for all of the other Welsh boxers on the bill in Cardiff.

Maccarinelli had no problems in seeing off Irish journeyman Ciaran Healy inside two rounds at cruiserweight.

The Swansea boxer, who now faces British champion Shane McPhilbin next month, hardly had to break sweat and had his opponent down twice before the contest was stopped.

There was an even quicker victory for Blackwood’s Craig Evans, who was also enjoying a homecoming after his first five fights had been on the road.

His super-featherweight encounter with Marc Callaghan was a total mismatch and proceedings came to an end between rounds one and two with the Englishman unable to continue.

Perhaps the most eye-catching tussle of the event was the all-Welsh light-welterweight dust-up between Lewis Rees and Tony Pace. Gary Lockett-trained Rees would eventually win comfortably on points (60-55) but he didn’t have it all his own way.

Ely’s Francis Robinson, son of former world champion Steve, also had his work cut out against Mark McKray before coming through 39-38 after four tough rounds at light-welter.

Middleweight Liam Williams, trained by Vince Cleverly, won his second pro bout against Tommy Tolan. The 19-year-old from the Rhondda took it 40-36 at the end of four trouble-free rounds.

In the other two fights, former world amateur champion Frankie Gavin impressed in his third-round knockout of Kevin McIntyre while Liverpudlian Liam Smith coasted to an easy points victory over eight rounds against Paul Morby.

Welsh League Round Up

Haverfordwest County leapfrogged rivals Cwmbran Celtic into second place in the First Division of the Welsh league with a 2-1 home triumph, in the eagerly awaited top of the table clash.

The Bluebirds took an early lead through Richard Lewis, before Celtic drew things level through Owain Llewellyn after the break, but the parity lasted only a matter of moments as Darren Griffiths sealed the victory.

At the other end of the table, Cwmaman Institute bagged a much needed 1-0 home win over rivals Aberaman Athletic .Cwmaman’s hero of the day was Chris Vardon, whose strike clinched the win.
Ton Pentre picked up a fine 3-0 win over highflying West End at Ynys Park.

The Bulldogs were held before the break but their growing home pressure finally told when Chris Colvin broke the deadlock, with Joe Leahy and Owain Davies also finding the net.

Meanwhile in a mid table battle, Goytre United triumphed 3-1 at AFC Porth.

Monmouth Town maintained their ten point lead at the summit of Division Two with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Treharris Athletic Western.
The Kingfishers found the target through Elliot Ford and Craig Lewis.
In the battle at the basement, Aberbargoed Buds picked up their seventh victory with a 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Newcastle Emlyn.
The Buds were trailing at the break to a Phil Furnley strike, but hit back after the interval through Wayne Antoniazzi and Matthew Jones.
Elsewhere, Garden Village moved up to sixth in the table coming out on top 5-3 in a goal fest over Newport YMCA at Stafford Common.
The Canaries took a 2-1 lead into the break, despite conceding after only two minutes to a well-taken Oliver Beckett strike, but hit back thorugh Ashley Richards and Dale Selvade.
However, after the interval, the visitors were rampant and surged into the lead, with Declan Flanagan and Aaron Stewart both finding the net.
Village regrouped with three goals in the final 15 minutes, Richards and Selvade both on target again with Jack Shannon adding the team's fifth in injury time.

Treowen Stars notched up only their third win of the season in Division Three with a 2-0 success over UWIC at Bush Park.
The Stars' goals came through Gary Evans and Lewis Cook, as they got the better of the students.
Goytre heaped more woe on basement boys Pontyclun with a 4-2 home victory over the strugglers.
The hosts' Luke Prosser earned the plaudits with a well-taken hat-trick, while Kristian Wharton was also on target.
There was nothing to choose between Bridgend Street and Briton Ferry with the game tied 1-1 at the whistle.
Bridgend took the lead on 68 minutes through a Chris Summers penalty, but Gareth Jones levelled for the visitors ten minutes later.
Finally, Risca United triumphed in a mid table battle, defeating Abertillery Bluebird 2-0.
United took the lead on 20 minutes through David Hurley and never looked back, with Robert Aldridge doubling their lead ten minutes from time.

gap Connahs Quay maintain advantage at the top

Pacemakers gap Connahs Quay maintained their seven point lead at the top of the Huws Gray Alliance with a clinical 3-0 triumph at Ruthin Town.
The Nomads made light work of their hosts, Mike Robinson opening the scoring before the interval with Mark McGregor and Jamie Petrie completing the scoreline.
Buckley Town crushed Porthmadog 6-2 to step up their title challenge as they moved up to second in the table, with two games in hand over the leaders.
The Trotters were on top from the outset and their reward came as early as the fifth minute, when Gareth Edwards netted before scoring his second ten minutes later, while Anthony Williams, Andy Moran, Matt Hughes and Derek Taylor were also on target to complete the rout.
Meanwhile, Rhyl also put down a marker for their title intent with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Conwy United, with all of their goals coming in a fantastic second half display at Y Morfa.
The Lilywhites' breakthrough came on 60 minutes when Paul Mooney bagged his first of the match, before the floodgates opened seeing Mooney strike again, with Mike Pritchard, James Gambino and an own goal also adding to their tally.
Llandudno cruised to their eighth win of the season, putting strugglers Llangefni to the sword with a 6-0 drubbing at Cae Bob Parry.
Lee Thomas was the hat-trick hero of the day for the visitors, while Joe Morgan, Dean Seager and Darren Gowans were also on target.
Elsewhere, Rhos Aelwydd moved off the bottom of the table thanks to a 4-2 home victory over fellow strugglers Penycae.
Roy Caradus was the star man for the hosts notching up a hat-trick, while Steve Powell also got on the scoresheet.
Finally, there were also wins for Penrhyncoch, who notched up a 2-0 home victory over Guilsfield, and Caersws, who bagged a 4-0 success at Llanrhaedr.

Ponty fail to end abysmal run at Carmarthen Park

Adam Thomas' double not enough to end Ponty's hoodoo at Carmarthen Park.

Pontypridd's abysmal league record at Carmarthen Park continued as the Valley Commandos were felled by Carmarthen Quins 27-26.
Ponty, who dominated proceedings, must be scratching their heads as to how they managed to come away on the losing side but they failed to put the hosts to bed after running the show in the second half.
Quins somehow survived despite a malfunctioning lineout and they had to play a quarter of the game with 14 players, after technical yellow cards for centre Alex Pickersgill and flanker James Davies.
The opening half was a fairly even affair, the boot of Simon Humberstone gave the visitors an early lead but Quins hit back well with Craig Everett crossing for a fine try, full back Chris Banfield adding the extras.
Humberstone and Banfield exchanged penalties before centre Dafydd Lockyer capitalised on a Quins error to send full back Adam Thomas over for an unconverted try.
However, their lead was short-lived, as scrum half Ricky Richards started and finished a move from a tap penalty with help from Pickersgill and lock Haydn Pugh, and Banfield’s conversion put the Quins 17-11 ahead at half time.
After the break, Ponty came out firing on all cylinders and a Humberstone penalty was soon followed by tries from winger Matthew Nuthall and a second from Thomas in the 75th minute, converted by Humberstone.
The visitors looked to be home and dry but Quins rallied and found themselves in the Ponty 22 for the first time in the half. Replacement winger Jason Howells worked the blind side with winger Jason Harries, who crossed for a try, duly converted by replacement Daniel Evans to set up a grandstand finish.
Speedster Harries crosses to bring Quins back into the match.
Ponty looked like deer in headlights as Quins sensed blood and when the referee penalised Pontypridd at a ruck, Evans coolly stepped up and fired home the penalty from 40 metres to clinch an unlikely victory.
Daniel Evans lines up last gasp penalty for Quins.
Photo courtesy of AlfiePics

The triumph sees Carmarthen move up to fourth in the table, leapfrogging Ponty in the process and Quins Team Manager, Steff Thomas, was delighted with his side's resolve.“We played some great rugby in the first half but as the game wore on, Ponty came into the match as we expected them to. But credit to the boys, we stuck in there showing good character and got the result.We are giving ourselves a real chance of a British and Irish Cup spot.”

Friday, 24 February 2012

We must do better, insists Neath chief Horgan

NEATH coach Patrick Horgan is looking for a big improvement from his side when they face Cardiff at The Gnoll tomorrow (1.15pm).

The Welsh All Blacks did just enough to see off Bridgend Athletic in the Swalec Cup last Saturday, turning a 14-3 half-time deficit into a 20-14 win after the break.

That earned them a quarter-final tie against Pontypridd next month but Horgan knows that Neath’s league priorities come first and that means beating Cardiff and going top of the Premiership table.

Neath’s injury worries are beginning to ease with scrum-half Tom James back on the bench after knee surgery though they have yet to settle on who will play at fly-half. Strikepower is added by the return of wingers Jamie Davies and try-machine Kevin James, back following suspension.

Horgan is fully focused on this weekend’s clash and is putting the visit of Pontypridd in the cup to one side for now.

“We are not thinking that far ahead – the visit of Cardiff is the only thing on our minds,” he said. “Bridgend Athletic was a gluepot of a pitch but really we can consider ourselves very fortunate to have got through to the next round and we are looking for a massive improvement against Cardiff.

“Cardiff are also through to the last eight of the cup, they have a few players back from Wales Sevens and always pose a threat so we need to step up big-time.

“We will be boosted by the return of a couple of key players and the possibility of going top again is an obvious motivation.”

Meanwhile, scrum-half Gareth Williams has been released from the Pontypridd after making seven appearances this season, three of those as a replacement.

Wizard Morris all set for special day

RICHARD Morris will have the honour of leading out Aberavon with two-year-old son James tomorrow as the veteran forward makes his 500th appearance for the Wizards.

It’s 17 years since the club’s record try scorer made his debut at Rodney Parade against Newport, who coincidentally provide the opposition for his milestone match this weekend.

No 8 Morris joined Aberavon after spells at Pontrhydyfen, Neath Athletic and Neath and never looked back, picking up the club’s player of the year award four times since making his bow at the age of 21.

In 2003, he broke the club record for tries in a season with 25 and holds the all-time record with 153 to date. The most recent came in an 18-7 win against Pontypridd on January 2.

“I’d admired Richard from afar before joining the club five years ago,” said Aberavon head coach Simon King. “He has been a standout performer in the Premiership for a number of years.

“From my perspective he ticks all the boxes. He is a humble guy but plays with total commitment. He is a solid person and is a fantastic ambassador in the dressing room.

“Players like him and his achievement of playing 500 games should not be underestimated.

“Due to the physical nature of today’s game and the demands placed on players, I doubt his achievement of reaching 500 games will be done again at this level.”

Those views were echoed by Wizards chairman Andrew John, who sees Morris as a big role model for the youngsters at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

“He’s been a great servant to Aberavon and he’s a top man as well,” he said. “It’s ironic that he made his debut against Newport and will play his 500th game against them as well.

“I remember him as a supporter before I became chairman. He possessed sheer strength and presence on the field.

“He’s also a dressing room presence and has been a massive example for younger players. It’s a really special achievement and it would be nice if as many people as possible are there to mark it.”

Trio share top honours in exciting finish

THE South Wales PGA event at Tenby finished in a thrilling three-way tie for first place.

The last group out on the course, which included Cardiff's Adam Constable, Creigiau's Richard Brookman and Ashburnham’s Martin Stimson, all ended the competition in front on two-over-par.

Stimson, South Wales PGA tournament organiser Constable and Brookman all had a chance of snatching top prize coming down the 18th, but had to settle for pars on the last green.

The trio's rounds of 74 were one better than Alun Evans of Newport in Pembrokeshire. The PGA’s next outing is at Cardiff on March 7.

Rounds of 68 were good enough for Keith Evans and Callum Dale to secure victories in medal matches at Pennard.

Evans finished first out of a field of 67 in the club’s February Medal, five shots clear of the next best player, Simon Langford, who recorded the best gross round.

But with handicaps taken into account, Langford had to settle for second place on 73 with Nigel Thomas third on back-nine countback.

Meanwhile, Dale took top honours in the Junior Medal competition with Harry Frazer a clear second with 71, three behind the winner.

The youngsters at Ashburnham have also been in action with Lewis Rhys Morgan winning the Junior Stableford with a score of 42 points.Aled Greville was second on 39 points in the boys’ event while Osian Bowen was a close third on 38.

In windy conditions at Southerndown, a dozen of the club’s younger members played in the juniors’ first competition of the year.

Playing off a handicap of 27, Harry Watkisn won the nine-hole stableford event with a total of 21 points over a testing front nine. Morgan Parker was second with a creditable 20 points, followed by Sounisa Bell on 18.

At Swansea Bay, Jonathan Wootton continued his recent fine form with 40 points to win the Saturday Stableford from an unlucky Ian Morgan, who endured the worst possible weather earlier in the day.

Jeremy Bowles's 43 points were more than enough to take the honours in the Sunday event.

Despite the atrocious weather, James Matthewman clinched last weekend’s Winter League competition at Lakeside with a superb 40 points.

Jason Thomas was back among the prizes but he had to make do with the runners-up spot this time, countback giving him second place over DJ Williams after both had returned to the clubhouse on 34 points.

Ian Thomas claimed the latest Leon Warne Order of Merit event at The Grove, his total of 35 points was one better than Craig Jones in second.

Meanwhile, there is no change at the top of the Cock of the North Standings following round 11 of the winter competition at Tredegar & Rhymney.

The first five pairs in division one all picked up maximum points with John Davies and Leon Hillman beating Neil Davies and Glyn Jones to preserve their lead at the summit.

They are now on 19 points, still two clear of the next couple of teams, Gareth Owen and Sean Scannell and Mark Davies and Gwyn Board.

Two pairs continue to share pole position in division two. Mike Shepherd and Glenn Trigg clinched victory over Gail Davies and Stefan Zdzieblo while Nick Watkins and Alan Borja overcame John and Tom Jones who are suffering a poor run of form.

With the first seven pairs all winning the bottom half of the table stays the same with Marc and Craig Watkins propping up the rest.

Dan Cook took first place in the latest Winter League competition at Wernddu though he needed countback to see off the challenge of Mark Batkin. Both recorded 42 points, two clear of Christopher Palmer in third.


ASHBURNHAM: Junior Boys Stableford: 1. L. Morgan 42, 2. A. Greville 39, 3. O. Bowen 38.

PENNARD: February Medal: 1. K. Evans 68, 2. S. Langford 73, 3. N. Thomas 73.

Best of the rest div. 1: C. Stirling 74. Div. 2: 1. A. Ward 75. Div. 3: 1. S. Andrews 80.

Junior Medal: 1. C. Dale 68, 2. H. Frazer 71.

LAKESIDE: Winter League: 1. J. Matthewman 40, 2. J. Thomas 34, 3. DJ Williams 34.

MONMOUTH: Winter League div one; D. Wills 41pts, 2. S. Arthur 40pts, 3. S. Williams 40pts

Div two; 1. P. Byrne 42pts, 2. N. Hollingsbee 39pts, 3. S. Gwilliam 38pts

SOUTHERNDOWN: Junior Nine-hole Stableford: 1. H. Watkins 21, 2. M. Parker 20, 3. S. Bell 18.

SWANSEA BAY: Thursday Stableford: 1. R. Beer 41, 2. M. Keen 40, 3. H. David 40.

Saturday Stableford: 1. J. Wootton 40, 2. I. Morgan 38, 3. B. Ashford 36.

Sunday Stableford: 1. J. Bowles 43, 2. I. Matthews 41, 3. L. Evans 40.

THE GROVE: February Medal: 1. J. Waite net 70.

Winter Pairs 1st rd: 1. C. Rumbelow & R. Evans 43, 2. T. Dowrick & P. Richards 42, 3. K. Godwin & G. Davies 39.

Leon Warne Order of Merit: 1. I. Thomas 35, 2. C. Jones 34, 3. S. Channell 31.

WERNDDU: Winter League; 1. D. Cook 42pts, 2. Mark Batkin 42pts, 3. C. Palmer 40pts

Tasty ties in Team Championship draw

SWANSEA Bay will clash with Morriston at Pontardawe in what promises to be one of the most fascinating preliminary round ties of this year’s Welsh Amateur Team Championship.

The winners will play either Derllys Court or Tenby for a place in the Championship finals at Newport in August. Pennard host Glynhir in another game that could be close, while Langland Bay meet Brecon at Neath.

Fairwood Park and Haverfordwest have byes and meet at Tenby for a place in the finals, while Ashburnham face Machynys at Trefloyne and Glynneath tackle Pontardawe at Morriston.

Neath, who enjoyed a marvellous 2011, are exempt until the finals as holders of the title.

Monmouth face Alice Springs in an intriguing-looking all-Gwent derby in the first preliminary round and the team that emerges unscathed has a difficult clash against either Whitchurch or Cardiff for a place in the championship proper.

Woodlake Park know they have a tough match against Southerndown and if successful will take on either St Pierre or Aberdare while Raglan Parc will relish their battle with Bargoed.

Llanwern should be too strong for Llantrisant and Pontyclun but Wernddu are likely to have their work cut out against Brynhill. Newport, who reached the final last year before being beaten by Neath, are exempt through the preliminary stages as hosts of the finals.

First preliminary round (selected): Monmouth v Alice Springs; Tredegar Park v Maesteg; Raglan Parc v Bargoed; Woodlake Park v Southerndown; St Pierre v Aberdare; Celtic Manor v Whitehall; Llanwern v Llantrisant and Pontyclun; Glamorganshire v Pontypool; West Monmouthshire v Vale of Glamorgan; Brynhill v Wernddu; Penrhos v Trefloyne; Pennard v Glynhir; Clyne v Tawe Vale; Derllys Court v Tenby; Swansea Bay v Morriston; Brecon v Langland Bay; Cardigan v Carmarthen; Llanishen v Pyle & Kenfig; Rhondda v Royal Porthcawl; Grove v Creigiau.

Second Preliminary Round (selected): Peterstone Lakes v Merthyr Tydfil; Monmouthshire v Dewstow; Monmouth or Alice Springs v Whitchurch or Cardiff; Tredegar Park or Maesteg v Raglan Parc or Bargoed; Woodlake Park or Southerndown v St Pierre or Aberdare; Celtic Manor or Whitehall v Llanishen or Pyle and Kenfig; Llanwern or Llantrisant or Llantrisant and Pontyclun v Glamorganshire or Pontypool; West Monmouthsire or Vale of Glamorgan v Rhondda or Royal Porthcawl; Wenvoe Castle or Mountain Ash v Brynhill or Wernddu; Morlais Castle v Pontnewydd; Fairwood Park v Haverfordwest; Gower v Lakeside; Aberystwyth v Penrhos or Trefloyne; Pennard or Glynhir v Clyne or Tawe Vale; Derllys Court or Tenby v Swansea Bay or Morriston; St Giles or Milford Haven v Brecon or Langland Bay; Cradoc or Builth Wells v Cardigan or Carmarthen; Machynys v Ashburnham; Glynneath v Pontardawe; Grove or Creigiau v Radyr or RAF St Athan

First preliminary round matches have to be played by May 21 and second round by June 25.

Principality Premiership predictions

Swansea v Bridgend (Friday, 7.15pm)

No games for either side last weekend means both should be champing at the bit going into tonight’s encounter at St. Helen’s. Swansea will want to put defeat to Tonmawr last time out firmly behind them and if the first league clash between the sides in September is anything to go by, there could be a few points in this one.

David’s verdict – Swansea by seven points

Laura’s verdict – Bridgend by six points

Carmarthen Quins v Pontypridd (Saturday, noon)

Ponty will start slight favourites for this one after the Quins were humbled by Ebbw Vale in the cup last Saturday but are on a roll of three wins in the league. However, Ponty have never won at Carmarthen Park though they do have Adam Thomas back from a long-term injury and will want to keep up the pressure on Neath and Llandovery.

David’s verdict – Ponty by five points

Laura’s verdict – Quins by five points

Neath v Cardiff (Saturday, 1.15pm)

Neath have the incentive of going top of the table if they beat Cardiff, who would have been buoyed by their cup victory over Llanelli last weekend. The hosts have shown their mettle in recent weeks with battling performances at Cross Keys in the league and Bridgend Athletic in the cup and should have too much for the Blue and Blacks.

David’s verdict – Neath by eight points

Laura’s verdict – Neath by 10 points

Aberavon v Newport (Saturday, 1.30pm)

A win for the Wizards would mark Richard Morris’s 500thappearance for the club style and although Newport were comfortable winners against Cardiff last time out, home advantage will help Aberavon. They also got back to winning ways with a high-scoring triumph over Bedwas last Saturday.

David’s verdict – Aberavon by 12 points

Laura’s verdict – Aberavon by 10 points

Llanelli v Cross Keys (Saturday, 1.30pm)

A repeat of the British & Irish Cup quarter-final, this game shouldn’t be as one-sided as that which Keys won 32-8 at Pandy Park last month. Both teams come into it on the back of contrasting fortunes in the cup and Keys know a bonus-point win at Parc y Scarlets could see them leapfrog the Scarlets in the league table.

David’s verdict – Keys by five points

Laura’s verdict – Llanelli by seven points

Thursday, 23 February 2012

David Williams's Welsh Boxing Blog - No. 5

HERE’S one for all sports trivia nuts out there - has there ever been a world title fight between boxers who are university graduates?

Well, there’s no question that a number of pugilists have donned the old cap and gown after completing degrees, but it’s highly unlikely two have fought for a world championship belt before.

But that’s exactly what will happen this Saturday when maths boffin Nathan Cleverly defends his WBO light-heavyweight crown against qualified psychiatric nurse Tommy Karpency.

It’s just one of a handful of similarities the pair share and certainly something missing from quite a few boxers’ CVs these days (no prizes for who I’m talking about here!).

As well as their education, Cleverly and Karpency both grew up in small towns that have a proud mining history and both are trained by their fathers, Vince and Tommy Snr respectively.

The one big difference of course is their stature in boxing right now – some bookies are making the Welshman 33-1 on to make a third successful defence of his belt.

You just have to look at the duo’s preparations for their clash at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.

While both say their training has gone smoothly, Karpency, who hails from Adah, a one-horse town in rural Pennsylvania, has had to marry his gym schedule with a 40-hour-a-week job at a local hospital where he monitors patients with acute psychiatric disorders.

The 26-year-old American knows he is the underdog for the clash with Cleverly but feels the pressure is firmly on the unbeaten champ, who is targeting a big unification fight later this year and can’t afford a slip-up this weekend.

Karpency’s day-to-day job brings its own stresses so he is well used to pressure and is going to give it his all in the Welsh capital.

“It’s a world championship, it’s the pinnacle of the sport, the highest you can get so I’ll do my best to prepare and fight as well as I can on Saturday,” he said.

“Because I’m a contender I have to work full-time and train whereas Nathan just has to train so I’m pretty busy.

“My management where I work has helped me tailor my schedule around my training but 40 hours a week is still a lot of time and we improvised the best we could and it went well.

“The hardest part for me is just putting the shifts in. My job is to medicate and monitor psychiatric patients who are in an acute state of their illness.

 “You deal with patients who are belligerent all the time so you get aggressive patients who try to attack you.”

He added: “This was a great opportunity for me to come over and try and win a world title. I know I’m not going to fight Bernard Hopkins or Chad Dawson because they’re looking to fight each other for big pay days.

“I believe he (Cleverly) is as good as they are and I think I’m just as good as they are.

“I think my best attribute is that I will fight anybody anywhere and all the pressure is on Nathan and I’ve got an opportunity of causing an upset.”

Karpency’s manager, Pat Nelson, has been quick to praise both men’s schooling and is in no doubt his fighter can spring what would be a massive surprise.

“Both of these young men have college degrees, both went to university before they got serious in their careers as boxers,” he said.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever had two people in a title fight with degrees. Tommy is a professional, not just inside the ring but outside the ring.

“Nathan is a great champion and has a lot of offensive tools but we wouldn’t have taken the fight if we didn’t think Tommy could win.”

Meanwhile, promoter Frank Warren has admitted that boxing “is on trial in the UK this week” after the disgraceful scenes in Germany last weekend.

Warren is in no doubt that Cleverly and Karpency can do their bit to repair some of the damage done by Dereck Chisora and David Haye following their brawl at a press conference in Munich.

Thursday’s media gathering at The Vale Hotel couldn’t have been further from the chaos caused by Chisora and Haye after the former’s world heavyweight title defeat to Vitali Klitschko.

Cleverly had a run-in himself with Tony Bellew last year though that fracas didn’t come to blows and Warren believes his man, and his American opponent, have the temperaments to leave people talking about the fight rather than anything unsavoury.

“Boxing is on trial in the UK this week after what happened in Germany,” said Warren. “It was a great fight in Germany but all the stuff surrounding it was pretty disgraceful and left the sport with, for want of a boxing phrase, a black eye.

“What we have got here (Cleverly v Karpency) is the acceptable face of boxing. These guys have shown great respect to each other and that will be done up until the time they get into the ring.

“But boxing is certainly under the spotlight so let’s hope it’s a good fight on the night, everyone behaves themselves and the fans enjoy it.

“That’s what boxing’s all about; great sportsmanship, great fights and great respect for everybody involved.

“There’s responsibility on all of us. Nobody liked to see what happened in the aftermath of that fight. We’ve had all the anti-boxing brigade out this week and they’ve had a lot of ammunition to throw at the sport.

“I know that 99% of the time everyone treats everyone with respect. This isn’t tiddly-winks, this is a very physical sport, and people have different temperaments and some can’t control themselves which they have to do.

“Nathan has got a great temperament and he’s shown it quite a few times over the last few of years, certainly in the last fight going into the lions’ den in Liverpool when there was a charged atmosphere.

“I think he’s a credit to the sport and I do think that as a world champion you have a responsibility but I don’t need to tell Nathan that.

“I don’t feel I have to stress it. We have had a conversation and talked about it but only a brief conversation because he’s a responsible guy and not that type of person.

“Tommy is a model pro, he’s got a great manager and his father is his trainer and they’re all sensible people.

“All people are different and handle situations in a different way. In Nathan’s case, he saves all his aggression for the first bell and when that bell goes you know there’s going to be fireworks.”

Warren also reiterated his wish to stage a big show for Cleverly in the summer, either at the Millennium Stadium or the Cardiff City Stadium, with Bernard Hopkins as the Welshman’s potential opponent if he beats Chad Dawson on April 28.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Home comforts for Dolgellau in Bowl draw

DOLGELLAU, the last club from North Wales left in the Swalec Bowl, have been given a home draw in this season’s quarter-finals.

Their reward for a 25-22 win against Milford Haven last Saturday is a clash with Talywain, who beat Cardiff Quins in the fifth round.

New Tredegar are on the road again, this time to the winner of the postponed Resolven-Treherbert encounter, while Tycroes welcome Caerleon to Carmarthenshire.

In the other last eight match, Amman United head East to Glyncoch, who battled to a 13-9 victory at Glyncorrwg in round five.

Swalec bowl quarter-final draw;

Glyncoch v Amman United

Dolgellau v Talywain

Tycroes v Caerleon

Resolven or Treherbert v New Tredegar

All matches to be played on the weekend of March 24.

Cup holders face Gnoll test in last eight

PONTYPRIDD’S trip to Neath is the standout tie of the Swalec Cup quarter-finals while a Division One club will definitely be in the last four.

Neath lost 36-26 at Sardis Road in the last 16 before Pontypridd went on to lift the trophy in 2011 and were also beaten by their rivals at home in the league earlier this season.  

The All Blacks came through a tough encounter at Bridgend Athletic to make the quarters while Pontypridd were handed a walkover last Saturday when opponents Tonmawr failed to raise a team.

Newbridge were given the tie they wanted in Monday’s draw with the winner of the postponed game between Ammanford and UWIC travelling to the Welfare Ground.

There could be another all-Division One match-up at Eugene Cross Park after Ebbw Vale, who’ve beaten two Premiership sides in succession, were drawn against either Beddau or Swansea. They also have to try again after a postponement on Saturday.

In the remaining last eight game, Cross Keys host Cardiff at Pandy Park where Cornish Pirates are also the visitors in the British & Irish Cup semis.

Swalec Cup quarter-final draw;

Newbridge v Ammanford or UWIC

Cross Keys v Cardiff

Neath v Pontypridd

Ebbw Vale v Beddau or Swansea

All ties to be played on the weekend of March 24.

Swalec Cup, Plate and Bowl Quarterfinal Line-up

The Quarterfinal draw for the Swalec Cup, Plate and Bowl

Swalec Cup

Ebbw Vale v Swansea
Neath v Pontypridd
Cross Keys v Cardiff
Newbridge v UWIC

Swalec Plate

Cwmllynfell  vYstrad Rhondda
Bethesda v Pontypool Utd
Nant Conwy v Builth Wells
Penallta v Maesteg Quins

Swalec Bowl

Glyncoch v Amman United
Dolgellau v Talywain
Tycroes v Caerleon
Resolven v New Tredegar

All fixtures to be played on Saturday March 24th

David Williams's Welsh Boxing Blog - No. 4

THERE will be some Welsh boxing news later on in this blog but I couldn’t write this article without first commenting on what happened in Germany at the weekend.

I mean, fancy lowly Freiburg holding Bayern Munich to a 0-0 draw. What? Was there something else happening in Deutschland last Saturday?

Of course, there was only one story and that exploded, quite literally, into life in Munich after Dereck Chisora’s unanimous points defeat to Vitali Klitschko in their world heavyweight title clash.

If David Haye did intentionally go into that post-fight press conference with the aim of taking the attention away from Chisora’s brave performance – one that was in complete contrast to his own against Vitali’s brother Wladimir last year – then he managed it.

The fight appears to have been lost in the ether as the fallout of Chisora and Haye’s Bavarian brawl continues to rumble on.

Haye, who had been commentating on the fight earlier that night, should never have been allowed into that press conference by the promoters. He was only ever going to stir things up and use it for his own ends to question the Klitschko’s manager Bernd Boente about a rematch with Wladimir.

I’ve been to my fair share of boxing shows and one thing they are never short of is security so why weren’t they prepared? When you’re trying to get to your seat at a boxing venue there are more than enough jobsworths around making moving to ringside seem like a Mission Impossible operation getting into Fort Knox!

Then there is Chisora himself. Why didn’t someone at that top table stop him before or during that walk from the stage to Haye to prevent it kicking off?

There’s no question that Chisora and Haye behaved despicably but I believe it could have been prevented. As for the fate of the two men, Chisora, no stranger to unruly antics in the build-up to the contest and in previous bouts, should be facing a lengthy ban.

And Haye, if he ever does make a comeback, should suffer the same punishment with absolutely no chance of meeting ‘Del Boy’ in the ring further down the line.

Getting back to actual boxing and Newbridge’s European lightweight champion Gavin Rees has had the details of his second title defence confirmed.

The former world champion will fight 33-year-old Frenchman Anthony Mezaache in Clichy la Garenne in the suburbs of Paris on March 23.

Former European king Mezaache’s promoters won the purse bids and their man will face Rees in his own back yard next month live in front of the Sky cameras.

Ultimately, Rees wants another shot at world glory and is currently ranked at 11 by the WBC and 14 by the WBO – winning in France will take him that step closer to fulfilling his dream.

Mezaache is known to British fight fans for dethroning then European champion Jon Thaxton in   2009 and end any lingering hopes the veteran had of challenging for world honours. Mezaache never defended the EBU crown but has won his last three bouts.

Dragons cup result changed on appeal

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have welcomed the decision to overturn the ruling that gave Saracens a bonus-point win after their match with the Welsh region was postponed.

The English side were awarded a 20-0 victory and the Dragons hit by a suspended £10,000 fine when they called off the LV= Cup encounter between the teams at Rodney Parade on February 3.

The Dragons deemed the pitch unplayable after temperatures dropped as low as -8°C the night before the match was due to take place.

But because the home side hadn’t made alternative arrangements for the game, the LV= Cup organising committee found them to be in breach of competition rules.

However, following a hearing on the matter, an appeals committee declared the game should be recorded as 0-0 draw and reduced the fine to £5,000.

“We are obviously disappointed that the game against Saracens cannot be re-scheduled but we are pleased by the ruling of the Appeals Panel in this matter,” said Dragons interim Chief Executive Chris Brown.

Meanwhile, last Saturday’s two postponed Swalec Cup third-round ties between Ammanford and UWIC and Beddau and Swansea will now take place on March 3.

Both were called off last weekend because of waterlogged pitches with all four sides bidding to reach the last eight of the knockout tournament.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Underdogs book last eight cup berths

THERE will definitely be at least three clubs from outside the Principality Premiership in the last eight of the Swalec Cup this season.

Ebbw Vale and Newbridge booked their places in the quarter-finals with victories on Saturday while Ammanford and UWIC, whose tie was postponed, will also be in tomorrow’s draw.

The four Division One sides are joined in the hat for the next round by Beddau after their clash with Swansea at Mount Pleasant was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

The two postponed games are now likely to take place on March 3 though that hasn’t been confirmed yet by the WRU.

Beddau would have fancied their chances of making it four teams from the Swalec Leagues in the quarters but at the 11th hour Pontllanfraith referee David Jones decided the pitch wasn’t playable.

The performance of the third round came at Eugene Cross Park as the Steelmen of Ebbw Vale dispatched their second Premiership opponents in a row with a 16-6 triumph over Carmarthen Quins.

And like a number of the other ties last Saturday, this one went down to the wire with the hosts sealing victory thanks to a late penalty try. Dorian Jones also kicked 11 points as the Division One East outfit continued their march to the Millennium Stadium.

There was so nearly a major shock further West as Bridgend Athletic, languishing at the bottom of Division One West, led Neath 14-3 at half-time through tries from Stuart Edbrooke and John Phillips.

In the end, Neath’s experience and fitness told as they just about scraped over the line 20-14 with two penalty tries and ten points in all from the boot of Dai Langdon.

Newbridge were also pushed to the limit by fellow Division One East rivals Bargoed, who had sent Aberavon crashing out in round two. Again, the match wasn’t decided until the closing stages when flanker Dean Gibbs darted over to seal Newbridge’s 13-3 success.

The cup’s most successful side, Llanelli, went out of this season’s competition following a thrilling encounter against Cardiff at the Arms Park. The hosts took a commanding 19-6 interval lead and although Owen Williams and Bowdy Davies touched down in the second period, the Scarlets came up just short.

Gareth Davies kicked 14 points and his replacement Scott Sneddon 11 as the Blue and Blacks won through.

The only one-sided encounter came at Pandy Park where Cross Keys eased past Rumney 36-18, outscoring the visitors by four tries to two and maintaining their impressive form in cup competitions this season.

Kristian Baller, Marcus Johnstone, Gerwyn Price and Steffan Jones all crossed the whitewash while Dean Gunter contributed 16 points through kicks. Gareth Stoppani and Dafydd Evans crossed for Rumney.

Cup holders Pontypridd were handed a walkover into the last eight as Tonmawr called off their tie because they couldn’t field a team. Pontypridd expressed its “deep concerns” at the manner in which the game was called off, saying that the news came to them through “indirect channels”.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Division Two East and West Round Up

There was a truncated league program yesterday with the Cup fixtures taking precedence, resulting in a handful of rearranged fixtures.
Rhydyfelin moved up into the top three in Two East thanks to a convincing 41-6 triumph at Abercynon. The visitors had to wait until after the break to assert their authority taking a narrow 8-6 lead into the break, despite being shown three yellow cards in the opening half.
With the wind at their backs in the second half, they upped their intensity running in six tries in all through Scott Pritchard and Rhys King, with Gavin Close and Lewis Smith both bagging braces. Josh Jones notched up eleven points with the boot, adding four conversions and a penalty.
The other scheduled Two East fixture between Llantwit Fadre and Ynysybwl never made it to the field due to a waterlogged pitch.
In the only Division Two West clash, Maesteg are still searching for their first win of the season, going down at home 21-7 to Aberavon Quins.
Quins crossed the whitewash twice through Daniel Webb and Steve Colarusso, while Marc Sheppard fired home three penalties and a conversion.
The Llynfi Valley side’s solitary try came through Gareth Edwards with Corey Butler adding the extras.

Mountain Ash 0-7 Blackwood

Blackwood bagged their eighth victory of the season in a tightly contested clash against Mountain Ash at Parc Duffryn Pennar.
In very heavy conditions, the game was reduced to a close quarter scrap, with the only score of the day coming before the interval through Blackwood powerhouse David Brake, with centre Adam Jones adding the extras.
The Old Firm dominated much of the territory and possession after the break, but failed to convert any of their chances. As the heavy ground began to take its toll on both sides' legs, the game began to stagnate and the hosts had to settle with a losing bonus point.
The other scheduled fixture between Tredegar and Treorchy meanwhile was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

Llanelli 0-2 TNS

Saints midfielder Ryan Fraughan controlled the game beautifully.
The New Saints cemented their place as firm title contenders with an emphatic 2-0 victory over Llanelli at Stebonheath Park.
Even the dismissal of Connell Rawlinson in the 52nd minute for a rash lunge on Chris Thomas could not derail the Saints' march, whose clinical passing and movement proved too much for Llanelli, leaving their title ambitions in tatters.
Reds defender Lee Shurman clears a dangerous cross from the penalty box.
In an evenly contested opening quarter, both teams began to grow into the match but it was the visitors that were to finish the half the strongest, spurning a number of goal scoring chances as the teams went into the tunnel at the break with the score tied 0-0.
However, it only took three second half minutes for TNS to break the deadlock as the lively Ryan Fraughan picked out Greg Draper, who cleverly side stepped Thomas before coolly stroking home his 16th goal of the season from 12 yards out.

TNS striker Alex Darlington fires a shot at goal.
Moments later Andy Legg’s men looked to have been handed a lifeline when Rawlinson saw red, but the Saints' defence was bolstered by the introduction of former Wales defender Steve Evans and despite their numerical disadvantage, still looked the more likely to get the next goal.
Craig Harrison’s men put the game to bed in the 63rd minute when Draper found the well timed run of Aeron Edwards, who beat the offside trap to race away and beat the stranded Ashley Morris with a low shot that ricocheted into the net off the keeper's legs.

 Reds Scott Evans tries to make head way against a strong Saints defence 
With the hosts outplayed, their only real chances came late on when TNS stopper Paul Harrison was called into action, making a superb save to deny Craig Moses, and Rhys Griffiths summed up Llanelli’s day when the striker headed over from close range.
The Saints now trail pacemakers Bangor by a single point with the leaders in action today at Bala.

Giant killers Glyncoch move into last 8

Division Six Central pacemakers Glyncoch pulled off another shock in the Swalec Bowl to secure their place in the quarterfinal draw, thanks to a hardfought 13-9 victory over Glyncorrwg of Division Four South West.
The giant killers crossed for the only try of the match through Lee Goddard, with Sean Baggs landing the extras and two penalties.
The hosts were restricted to three Gareth Goodridge penalties as they failed to breakdown the well organised Glyncoch defence.
Caerleon also got in on the giant killing act with the Six East highfliers convincingly dispatching Division Four South East hosts Barry 27-5.
The lower league visitors comprehensively defeated their rivals, running in three tries to one, with Huw Williams, David Evans and Richard Harris all crossing the whitewash. Josh Jones produced a fine kicking display, adding all three conversions and also firing home two penalties.
The Bombers meanwhile could only manage a solitary Dave Probert touchdown.
Meanwhile in the all Four East battle, league leaders Talywain downed fellow highfliers Cardiff Quins 25-18 at the Diamond Ground.
Talywain got off to a blistering start, racing to a 22-3 half time lead thanks to tries from Dale Nash, Martin Savage and Adam Williams, while Nathan Davies slotted two conversions and a penalty.
Quins came out after the break with the wind at their back and reduced the deficit through two Rhys Jones touchdowns, with Matt Phillips adding a conversion and a penalty, but a further Davies penalty from the visitors kept the Quins at bay.
Division Four West trailblazers Amman United were too powerful for the travelling Gowerton, running out 28-0 home winners.
United crossed the whitewash three times through back row Karl Worsfold, scrum half Joel Foster and wing Dean Williams, while Adrian Thomas landed two conversions and three penalties.
There was mixed fortunes for West Wales clubs making the long journey north, with Five South West's Tycroes comfortably overcoming COBRA 22-14, but Milford Haven narrowly lost out 25-22 at Dolgellau, with Lleon Pugh on target with a last minute penalty to deny the Mariners extra time.
Elsewhere, New Tredegar did just enough at Hafodyrynys to keep their Cup dream alive, winning 11-10.
Finally, the only match to fall victim to the weather was the clash between Resolven and Treherbert, with the match postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.