Islington boxer displays clinical edge in comeback fight

Charlie Rice (right) defeats Gabor Feher at the Camden Centre. Pic: Philip Sharkey/TGSPHOTO

Charlie Rice (right) defeats Gabor Feher at the Camden Centre. Pic: Philip Sharkey/TGSPHOTO - Credit: Philip Sharkey/TGSPHOTO

Charlie Rice’s new trainer believes the Islington fighter has acquired a ruthless streak after marking his return to the ring with a second-round stoppage.

The 22-year-old light-welterweight made a successful comeback after his 10-month absence, destroying Hungarian Gabor Feher inside two rounds at the Camden Centre, King’s Cross.

It was the ninth victory of Rice’s 10-fight professional career, but only the second inside the distance – and Alec Wilkey, who was in his corner for the first time at Friday’s bout, was encouraged by the early signs.

And he expects the former Times ABC amateur to be challenging the likes of Tyler Goodjohn, who has just relinquished the English title, and Lee Boylan, who boxes Tommy Martin for the vacant belt next month, in the near future.

Wilkey told the Gazette: “I remember seeing Charlie in the TKO gym three or four years ago and I knew then he was a good fighter – he’s a devastating puncher.

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“What he used to do sometimes was get in and open up and not see where the shots were going. He’s only been with me a matter of weeks and you don’t change too much.

“All I’ve done is slowed him down a bit and made him more clinical. He was listening to what I was saying, putting it into practice and that’s the sign of a good fighter.

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“He’s above the weight but, once we get him down to light-welterweight again, he’ll be more powerful. I’m looking forward to that.

“We want to get him in the mix with people like Boylan and Goodjohn, because he can take them out all day long. If we get a chance like that, we’ll bite their hands off and work to get him ready.”

Rice, whose only professional defeat came against his current sparring partner Danny Connor at Prizefighter in July 2013, looked sharper than might have been expected on Friday, given his recent inactivity.

He stung Feher with a couple of solid combinations in the opening round, but really took control in the second, unleashing a right hand over the top and then flooring his opponent with a left uppercut.

Feher survived the count, but then Rice resumed his onslaught and a powerful left hook to the body sent his opponent to the canvas for a second time, to be counted out by referee Kieran McCann.

“I could tell he had got power, but I knew from his punches he was starting to tire, his power was running out and I could get on top of him,” said Rice.

“I went back to the corner at the start of the first round and said ‘I’ll tire him out’. I didn’t expect it to happen that quickly though – I thought it’d be four or five rounds.

“It was good to get the stoppage, especially against someone we really didn’t know anything about. If I hurt someone before, I’d ease off a bit, but my mentality’s a bit different this time round.

“There are things Alec’s been teaching me, like cutting the ring off, throwing the right hand over the top, and those worked. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do but I’m willing to work hard.”

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