By Sam Doleman at ringside
The George Carnell Leisure centre, Manchester, was the venue for a real up-and-down central area Cruiserweight title contest, on a VIP promoted bill this afternoon. Liverpool’s Tony Moran 14-5 (5) was paired with Tasmanian born, now Manchester based, Chris P Bacon 12-2 (5). Both fighters had weighed inside the Cruiserweight limit of 200lbs prior to the contest.
The tall Liverpudlian, Moran, was first to the ring. His height immediately noticeable, as his skinny 6ft 6 frame took position in the blue corner. As Moran was keeping warm, Bacon began his ring walk. His entrance music wasn’t to be ‘eye of the tiger’, neither was it a thudding hip hop classic, instead the crowd cheered as Rolf Harris’ ‘Tie me kangaroo down sport’ bellowed around the arena. A brief reminder of Chris P Bacon’s roots, and also of his sense of humour.
The first round was very much a blueprint of what was ahead. Bacon was determined to keep the fight at short range, his tactics of throwing looping hooks on the way in worked well, as Moran tried to tie the Tasmanian up, and box at range. Bacon landed some solid shots, and Moran never quite got to grips with the marauding, aggressive style. I gave the first to Bacon, who whilst was untidy, won the round on aggression.
The second round began with Bacon again throwing looping shots at the much taller Moran. Moran would back pedal, and ultimately tie up Bacon, resulting in what appeared to be a scrappy affair. Interestingly, Bacon looked reluctant to force the work on the inside. Moran’s tall frame resulted in a massive body target, however, it was Moran who landed the better body shots on the inside. Midway through the second Moran landed a short hook to the temple of Bacon, which stopped the Manchester based brawler in his tracks. Moran capitalised by picking his punches, landing good hooks to the body, as Bacon covered up well. With his head clear Bacon pushed on for the last thirty seconds of the round, but Moran’s superior boxing skills had won him the second.
Bacon’s brawling continued as the third began. Moran was forced back onto the ropes as wild hooks bombarded his guard and chin from all angles. When free from the ropes, and on the back foot, Moran would fire clusters of jabs at the oncoming Bacon. Not to be unruffled, Bacon kept his hands high, and manoeuvred himself into range for another assault. Although Moran managed to bloody Bacon’s nose, I scored the round even. Bacon’s non stop aggression, combined with Moran’s unstable appearance when under the cosh, was enough to give Bacon a good share in this one.
Moran was put under pressure again from the outset in the fourth. Bacon waded into Moran with flailing hooks, and not for the first time Moran found himself with his back to the ropes. As Bacon pushed Moran into the corner, a short, crisp looking right hook nailed Bacon, and sent him to the canvas. Bacon didn’t look badly hurt, and was up in good time to take his standing eight count. However, a 10-8 round was exactly what the doctor ordered for Moran, and he was content to see out the remaining two minutes by circling the ring, and only occasionally firing off some shots at the pursuing Bacon.
Bacon’s corner fired their man up before the start of the fifth, and the previous round’s knockdown didn’t dent the Tasmanian’s confidence. A straight right through the guard of Moran left the lanky Liverpudlian precariously poised with his back on the ropes. The customary wild hooks from Bacon followed, and Moran looked in real trouble until a counter left hook dropped the Tasmanian for a second time in as many rounds. The Bacon corner, and his following inside the arena, were unhappy with the decision to administer a standing eight, claiming their man had slipped on the canvas. Whilst this may be the case, the left from Moran defiantly landed, and was without doubt the reason Bacon tasted the mat. Another 10-8 for Moran, and the Liverpool man was now steaming ahead on my card.
During the sixth Moran looked by far the more comfortable man. It appeared he had finally figured Bacon out. Moran was landing far more shots on the oncoming Bacon, and wasn’t static for long enough for Bacon to engage him in a dogfight. Bacon did have his moments, and never looked like he was ready to stop throwing hooks, or stop pursuing Moran. But the Liverpool man looked more able on the back foot, and kept a tight guard when up close. Another banked round for Moran.
Moran began the seventh landing a straight left lead jab through Bacon’s guard, a punch which he had begun utilising well. The lead left through the guard allowed Moran a split second to decide whether he should add a right, followed by another left, or move away from range and prepare for Bacon’s next assault. As Moran moved backwards following a landed left jab, Bacon caught him flush with a left hook which started its arc right back in Tasmania. Moran wobbled, dropped his guard and Bacon capitalised. A right hook landed, and Moran was down for the first time in the contest. Moran was up on his feet by six, and nodding to continue by eight. As the referee waved the fighters to continue, it was clear Moran’s head had not quite cleared, and Bacon took full advantage by steaming into Moran and landing a right to the jaw. Moran wobbled against the ropes, his legs dipped and his hands fell and the referee stepped in to call a halt to the contest, before Bacon landed anything else on the unguarded jaw.
The contest was a typical boxer versus brawler affair. Moran’s skill was superior, and his punches cleaner, but Bacon would simply not lie down. His aggression and non stop output eventually saw Moran tire, and wilt. Moran’s chin has always looked a little suspect, and although I had the scoring at 59-54 (in Moran’s favour) going into the seventh, it was by no means a done deal he would walk away with the title.
A good win for Bacon now 13-2 (6), who on this performance, will always provide good value for money. A shot against the winner of Rob Norton and Tommy Eastwood for the English title wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. Difficult to see where Moran can go from here as he drops to 14-6 (5). A rematch would be a winnable option, although somewhat unlikely.