As he slipped into an icky Naseem Hamed impersonation at ringside, it was easy to forget how likeable Kid Galahad had been only moments earlier, when jettisoning Liverpool’s James “Jazza” Dickens in the 10th round of a nip-and-tuck encounter for the British junior featherweight crown. “I just knew…when I find my range…my distance…boom!” he parroted through the side of his mouth. Uncomfortable talking into a microphone, Galahad had subconsciously become the man he’d dreamt about since he was a kid.
Dickens, 121 ½, had put up a determined struggle in a fight that was, at times, impossible to score. The bout teetered on a razor’s edge as the youngsters battled into what would ultimately turn out to be the final session. As exhaustion nagged at him though, “Jazza” began to unravel, and Galahad, 121 ¼, pounced on him with a concerted onslaught, one punctuated by a crunching left uppercut and juddering left cross that left Dickens on all fours, staring at the mat with blood dripping from a split across the bridge of his nose. And although the game Liverpudlian staggered to his feet, referee Mark Green wisely wrapped his arms around him at 1:34 as Galahad showboated to wild applause in the opposite corner of the Magna Centre ring.
“Jazza,” decked in claret and blue, was a perfect match for Galahad, 15-0 (8), through eight rounds, after which he began blowing hard; the word around the campfire was that he’d struggled to make weight (which might explain why his reserves drained so alarmingly). Warned by his corner that he’d need to pour it on in the championship rounds after having a point deducted for excessive manhandling in round nine, Galahad needed no further encouragement and closed the show in emphatic style.
Dickens, 16-1 (5), had arguably made the brighter start, however, they were so evenly pitted, only round 6 could be judged with any certainty (for Galahad). Both highly-touted prospects fought at an impressive clip throughout — feinting, countering and manoeuvring one another giddy.
Holding centre ring, Galahad, who repeatedly switched stances, would flick out rangy jabs and quick one-twos. Dickens, who seemed the more powerful puncher, repeatedly surged with sweeping lefts and storm-the-barricade-type raids, before niftily tucking up behind his southpaw guard.
Galahad’s poise under duress was noteworthy; the Sheffield stylist has unusual concentration levels and isn’t easily deterred – there’s a genuine steeliness beneath the shoe-shines and shimmies. More work is required before he can realistically look to topple domestic rivals Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg, but at 23, he can only improve. Dickens meanwhile, still only a baby himself at 22, is likely to take this one hard: a knockout defeat is the ultimate bugaboo for one so dedicated — no matter how many slaps on the back he receives in commiseration.