During a night of extreme heat and almost unbearable tension, a boxer called Takaloo from Margate won the vacant World Boxing Union light-middleweight title in front of 6,000 stunned fans last night here at the Velodrome.
Takaloo entered the ring as the underdog in the fight against the unbeaten Mancunian Anthony Farnell, who had personally sold 2,000 tickets, but it was the roar of the crowd as much as his opponent's which led to his first defeat last night.
It ended in round one when Takaloo connected with a short right uppercut and Farnell dropped like a man who had fallen from a plane rather than suffering a surprise knock down. He hit the canvas heavily and looked in a dreadful state when he managed to regain his feet at the count of eight.
The crowd's enjoyment had turned to silent disbelief, and then when it became clear that the man they had followed through 26 victories, the man they had paid to see, was about to lose, the silence ended with their howls and insults.
Farnell was allowed to continue and he survived another few seconds before stumbling from several more punches and at this point the veteran referee Dave Parriss called a halt. It was a tremendous shock, the type of upset that saves boxing.
Even before Takaloo connected with the right uppercut he was easily avoiding the punches of the hyped-up Farnell. Takaloo was calm and Farnell was not, and when a punch connected it made no difference because that was the end of the fight. "I imagined that the crowd were cheering for me and I put myself in a special place and was able to ignore them,'' Takaloo said.
For Farnell it was the type of defeat that boxers, especially unbeaten fighters, refuse to believe and accept. He will now have somehow to get back in the ring as soon as possible, and last night shortly after the fight's sudden conclusion the promoter Frank Warren was cornered for a rematch. It is a fight that makes sense for Farnell but not so much sense for Takaloo.
If Farnell and Takaloo provided the shock of the night there was a feeling of sweet revenge in the super-featherweight encounter between Michael Gomez and Hungary's Laszlo Bognar. In February Bognar ended a winning streak of 19 when he stopped Gomez in round nine in a fight that also put on hold Gomez's chance of winning a world title.
Last night, in a ring that was far too hot, Gomez survived two knock-downs to drop and halt Bognar in round three. It was an emotional fight and one that Gomez knew he had to win or face a life away from the bright lights – and in boxing that is a hard route to follow.
"I knew I had to win and I think that made me nervous,'' Gomez said. "The feeling when he went down for the last time was the best I've ever had in a boxing ring. All the hard work, all the misery, is worth that few seconds.''Reuse content