Verdict was Sprott on
Adam Smith explains why Michael Sprott's Prizefighter victory on points was thoroughly deserved.
Last Updated: 14/10/10 7:39pm
It really couldn't have happened to a nicer boxing man. Prizefighter Heavyweight Champion for 2010: Reading's amiable, popular and no-nonsense campaigner - Michael Sprott.
Having endured a hard, draining, topsy-turvy and most-challenging 14-year career, Sprott has now lifted what is, physically, the biggest trophy in boxing!
He may not have become the extraordinary multi-millionaire that the lottery dished up at the weekend, but he did collect a £32,000 cheque and a huge boost to his flagging career.
Sprott has always answered calls. He has never complained. He has been matched hard. He has never complained. He has sparred with the best. He has never complained.
The Klitschkos rave about Sprott's work in camps out on the European scene. He's long been a good, honest heavyweight in the domestic picture too.
People have, though, called him a journeyman. Steered from the rather unfashionable, unheralded, and certainly underrated Jim Evans' stable, and, having struggled from being a 'moody' fighter, it seemed as though Michael would always be seen as a nearly man.
Yet the boxing stalwart from Berkshire has still been good enough to win the British and Commonwealth Heavyweight titles.
Sprott knocked out Audley Harrison in three rounds, and in their re-match was less than a round away from becoming European Champion - and ending the Olympic Gold medallist's dreams once and for all. Until, of course, that crushing left hook felled Sprott in the dramatic final round.
Six months ago, Sprott's career could have finally taken off at European level, but that cruel finish seemed to call time on his ambitions.
Add to that the personal tragedy which Michael and his tight-knit family have had to deal with after his beloved sister Ginette committed suicide.
Yet Michael Sprott's a born fighter, and on Saturday night he proved his strength and his class by picking his way through a (mostly disappointing) set of huge heavyweights, to capture the Prizefighter trophy and that lovely bonus of £32,000.
Amidst a quite amazing atmosphere at a stacked, packed and baking York Hall, Prizefighter: The Heavyweights 4 saw plenty of commitment and will, but far less from the technical skills department. Not that that is what Prizefighter is all about; but there was too much hugging, scrapping and wrestling through the course of the event.
Still, it was, as always, compelling and exciting - such is the structure of the seven quick-fire fights in one knockout evening.
Ali Adams never got to grips with Matt Skelton, who was, in turn, very fortunate not to be counted - or even stopped - after a big Kevin McBride right hand decked the Bedford man in the semis.
In the bottom half of the draw, Declan Timlin's unbeaten slate was shattered by a fired-up Shane McPhilbin. The Bulwell banger was, though, too raw and naïve for the seasoned Sprott.
Franklin Egobi and Danny Hughes had both fallen at the first hurdle, and the much predicted final of Skelton-Sprott took shape. This was another quite sketchy and messy meeting, until a lively last 30 seconds. It was a close call.
Sprott nicked the verdict to exact revenge on his two-time conqueror and overall deserved to come out of the tournament victorious. He had showed better speed, movement and pace than the others. The cheers that met his triumph were truly heartfelt. Fighters left happy that a respected comrade had won. Fans walked away delighted that one of their best-loved boxers had come through.
In a sub-plot, this was also a second successive Prizefighter win for trainer Jim Evans - after Patrick Mendy had won The Super-Middleweights at the end of last season.
Jim and Michael will be joining Johnny and I on Thursday's Ringside and we look forward to taking our hats off to this most refreshing of boxing couples.
We will also be bringing you all the news and gossip - including Frank Warren's big plans for December 11th.
This week's debate covers the vital 'matchmaking' issue. When is the right time to make a fight? How quickly should a prospect be brought through? When do you pull that trigger? Astute matchmaker Dean Powell and wily promoter Frank Maloney will no doubt be providing forthright views.
We will build up to little Frank's London show on Saturday Fight Night as improving southerner Sam Webb makes the first defence of his British Light-Middleweight crown against the hard-hitting Martin Concepcion.
Webb won the crown against Anthony Small, and might now have the extra confidence to go with his talent. By all accounts Concepcion has trained like a demon for this battle, and does take a big puncher's chance with him into the ring.
For me, though, Sam Webb is the fighter on the rise, and I am looking for an impressive performance from the new champion to retain his belt - somewhere inside schedule.
Two former recent holders of the prestigious 11 stone Lonsdale belt - Jamie Moore and Ryan Rhodes will be watching 2 live title fights from the studio, in London's Troxy.
Webb-Concepcion is preceded by the Commonwealth super-bantamweight fight between Jamie Arthur and Kris Hughes. We hope for another good night.
Meanwhile Audley Harrison continues to fire words from his camp high in the Big Bear Mountains as we countdown to his acid test against David Haye on November 13th.
This week, though, belongs to his old rival. Michael Sprott most definitely deserves his Prizefighting success!