BN Verdict: Body shots in round 10 ensure Barrett outlasts Gill

SUCH was the steadiness and consistency of Jordan Gill tonight (April 13) in Manchester, it appeared only a bolt from the blue or, more accurately, the kind of the punch from which there is no coming back would see Zelfa Barrett turn things around and reduce a narrow deficit on the scorecards.

Typically, when in need of something decisive, there is no punch more decisive than a body shot and this both Gill and Barrett came to understand more than ever in round 10. It was in this round Gill, buoyed by momentum and keen to stretch a lead, continued to stalk Barrett and chip away at his ambition, and it was in this round, too, that Barrett dropped Gill with a left hook to the body in the opening minute.

At that point, given Gill’s reaction, the fight appeared as good as over. The tell-tale signs of a wounded warrior were there for all to see: down on his back, writhing in pain, everything seemingly sucked out of him. Then, however, Gill sprung back to life, perhaps realising either that he was ahead in the fight, or, more likely, remembering where he has been in his personal life in recent years and considering this, a body shot, a mere inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.

Whichever it was, Gill rather miraculously climbed to his feet and resumed his role in the fight, albeit in a manner more cautious than before. Now, you see, the man from Chatteris was not only hurt to the body but wary of being tagged in the same spot again, which, of course, was Barrett’s very aim both in the remainder of this round and for the remainder of the fight.

Suddenly, having looked so comfortable, the final two and a half rounds represented a marathon in the mind of Gill. With the pain refusing to ease, his posture became more of a crouch and Barrett knew exactly what he had to do to prolong his misery: keep targeting the same area. This he did, quite expertly, for the rest of the 10th round before, in the end, Gill succumbed to another left hook to the body, which had the same effect as the first. Again, he was writhing on the floor; again, he was trying to gee himself up and persuade himself it was worth carrying on.

This time the referee, John Latham, took a much closer look at Gill as he returned to an upright position and this time it was apparent just how hurt Gill had been by the second body shot when, upon the restart, he essentially sacrificed guarding his head in order to ensure Barrett couldn’t again hit him cleanly to the body. This made for a somewhat peculiar sight: Gill continuing with his arms guarding only his body and therefore nothing stopping Barrett, 31-2 (17), from whacking away at his head. Needing no further cue, whack away Barrett did, causing the referee to intervene not long after the second knockdown.

Up to that point it had been a fairly even fight; a decent one with plenty of quality if little in terms of drama. There had been a nice flow to proceedings all in all and rounds were being exchanged as freely as punches.

Gill, it seemed, started the better of the two, showing nice composure and countless feints, whereas Barrett came into the fight more in rounds three and four. By then he had found a home for his uppercut, which he threw with both his left and right hand, and by then he was timing Gill coming in and using the shorter stature of his opponent against him (hence the regular use of the uppercut).

Indeed, it was in round four we were given an early indication of what was to come, when Barrett hurt Gill to the body with a left hook and set about him thereafter, shooting a couple more towards that area but failing to replicate the damage of the first. Regardless, if paying attention, you would have seen in that round clues as to how both Barrett could turn the momentum back in his favour and ultimately, as shown in round 10, win the fight.

It would require some patience on the part of Barrett, mind you. In fact, of the two well-schooled super-featherweights it was Gill who did the better work after that fourth round, capitalising in most of the subsequent rounds on Barrett’s passivity and working when the Mancunian either wanted to move, work on defence, or simply have a rest. Until the finish, this appeared to be the pattern of the fight heading into its final third and Gill, never shaken from his game plan or even his stance, remained in control and growing in self-belief. Yet, of course, it’s often when a boxer feels in control, or confident, or impervious to pain, that it hits them; both the finishing blow and the reality.

In the case of Jordan Gill, 28-3-1 (9), never was this truer than tonight. Unfortunately for him, reality – delivered in the form of a Zelfa Barrett body shot – arrived two minutes and 44 seconds into round 10.

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