French WBA LightWelterweight title holder Souleymane M’Baye survived an absorbing contest last night, emerging from his bout with Andreas Kotelnik with a contentious draw that preserved his status as the champion. The fight, broadly defined by Kotelnik’s superior aggression and volume of punches and M’Baye back-foot counter-punching and thudding right hand, was an enjoyable spectacle. As result, few ripples will be felt in the 140 pound division; M’Baye remains a mile away from a shot at Ricky Hatton while ever Frank Warren remains in control of his career.
Kotelnik and his team, who wore Liverpool FC shirts emblazoned with their fighter’s name to endear themselves to the local crowd seemed stunned by the result. I watched from the comfort of my sofa and strongly felt John Rawling frequently over-stated M’Baye’s success and neglected Kotelnik’s constant pressure and quality combinations too often to be cooincidental. M’Baye, despite being a transplanted Frenchman was, of course, the house fighter on the Sports Network show and I felt an influence on the commentator’s perspective was apparent. Sorry John but I did.
I couldn’t argue with a draw, I had it very tight over the 12, and the old mantra of ‘taking the title’ could be applied too, so it was little surprise the champion secured the minimum result required to keep his belt. M’Baye looked stale and on this form wouldn’t last five rounds with Hatton. As I mentioned, more chance of hell freezing over than that fight being made.
Enjoyable encounter the two imports provided last night though, and although none of the belts mean anything it was good to see a regulation, I can’t bring myself to use the word genuine, belt on British shores as they remain a rare commodity. And as a final note, Kotelnik’s favourable performance reflects more positively on WBC Belt holder Junior Witter, who struggled manfully to shine against the tough Ukrainian in 2005.