Friday night from York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, Billy Joe Saunders scored the biggest win of his career as he lopsidedly dominated Bradley Pryce to successfully retain his Commonwealth middleweight title by scores of 120-108, 120-109 twice in the main event of a full card televised by Box Nation.
The former British Olympian Saunders (14-0, 9 KOs) had no trouble piling up the points against his most skilled and experienced opponent to date, getting extended the 12 round distance for the first time in his young professional career.
Pryce, to his credit, never kept trying but was just outclassed on many levels. Saunders caught Pryce in the 3rd with a big combination that began swelling around the left, which only worsened as the fight wore on thanks to the constant popping of Saunders’ jab.
While Saunders has been moved at a slower pace than fellow Olympian James DeGale, his ceiling could potentially be higher. Now that Saunders has passed this test, hopefully promoter Frank Warren will decide to step him up to the European level by the end of 2012.
Exciting and promising super middleweight Frank Buglioni (5-0, 3 KOs) of London notched a points win over Jody Meikle (3-21) of Lincolnshire in an entertaining albeit one-sided affair. Buglioni had an army of fans in attendance as he bloodied a clowning Meikle while inflicting loads of punishment. Buglioni went six rounds for the first time in his young career and looked good doing it, notching a wide points win.
Merseyside junior lightweight Stephen Smith (15-1, 8 KOs) got his third win of the year by decisioning Jose Luis Graterol (14-15-4, 5 KOs) of Venezuela, who picked up his seventh straight defeat. Smith went the distance for the first time in 2012, picking up two wins earlier in the year by 1st round stoppage. Smith is trying to rebound from a September loss to Lee Selby for the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles and has fought all his bouts since at 130 pounds. Smith came on strong to start but his opponent was able to adjust into survival mode and stay off the canvas. Referee Jeff Hinds scored it a shutout, 80-72, in favor of Smith.
It was more difficult than it was expected to be, but 21-year old London featherweight prospect Lewis Pettitt (8-0, 3 KOs) remained unbeaten as he won a tough points verdict over Yorkshire’s Gavin Reid (6-14-1, 3 KOs). Pettitt had never previously gone more than four rounds, and he had to work every second to get the victory over an opponent who was brought in on short notice and has lost his last 10 bouts. It was an entertaining battle in which both guys landed their fair share of power shots and the referee scored it a two-point win for Pettitt, properly defending the difficulty of the bout.
London middleweight Tom Baker (1-0) earned an easy points win over Danny Brown (3-6-1) of Essex to notch his first victory as a professional. Baker didn’t press the action as it was fought at a far from torrid pace. The referee scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Baker.
Junior lightweight Mitchell Smith (1-0, KO) of London debuted with a bang, stopping experienced but outmatched Aberdeen, Scotland’s James Ancliff (11-22-2, 2 KOs) in the 3rd round of what was to that point a one-sided fight. Smith showed extreme poise for a 19-year-old kid and could be one to watch out for. Mitchell looked calm as he picked his shots brilliantly before dropping Ancliff in the 2nd round with a solid right hand. Ancliff survived, only to be stopped on the ropes midway through the 3rd round.
20-year-old middleweight John Dignum (1-1) of Essex saw his professional career spoiled by experienced journeyman Lee Noble (15-22-3, 3 KOs) who dropped Dignum twice in their four-round encounter en route to handing him the first loss of his professional career. Noble has been in with the class of the U.K. and Europe and just had a deeper well of experience than Dignum. Referee Jeff Hinds scored the fight 38-36 in favor of Noble.