Boxing: Josh Wale still a work in progress

Josh Wale awaits referee Howard Fosters verdict
Josh Wale awaits referee Howard Fosters verdict

Who would have thought that a six rounder in front of 500 people would turn out to be probably the most intriguing fight of Josh Wale’s career to date?

His clash with Lithuanian Simos Volosinas at Dearne Valley Leisure Centre was his first since bringing Stefy Bull on board as a trainer.

Robbie Barrett has his hand raised after victory over Sylwester Walczak

Robbie Barrett has his hand raised after victory over Sylwester Walczak

Bull’s goal is to push the Barnsley fighter over the line from reliable contender to genuine champion. To do that he is attempting to transform Wale from the warrior style with which he made his name into a more rounded boxer.

That project is clearly a work in progress, as laid bare in a contest where Wale appeared to be battling against himself more than he was Volosinas.

Leaning over the ropes after securing a 60-54 points win, the 27-year-old admitted it was the toughest fight of his career. Noting that he has fought Gavin McDonnell, Kid Galahad and Jazza Dickens shows just how difficult a night Wale felt he had.

In the early rounds he really struggled to rein in that warrior instinct. Working off the jab, he would land a couple of shots and keep coming forward in search of more.

Steven Hale awaits the verdict from his fight with Jamie Quinn

Steven Hale awaits the verdict from his fight with Jamie Quinn

From the corner, Bull was continuously shouting him down and urging him back. Three shots and backing off was enough for the trainer.

It proved to be an awkward bout for Wale. While he was in control throughout, he struggled for fluidity as he battled between instinct and instruction.

It was perhaps useful that whenever he continued to charge forward, Volosinas fired back, catching him occasionally, providing inadvertent reminders.

In the fourth of the six rounds, it clicked into place and Wale showed some superb boxing skill. Hitting and moving, he danced around the ring.

Lee Appleyard is declared the winner of his fight with Alex Phillips

Lee Appleyard is declared the winner of his fight with Alex Phillips

But, as he himself would admit, he struggled to keep it up and drifted back into charging his opponent down.

It proved that if Wale is to be primarily a boxer rather than a warrior by the time his next major challenge comes around, there is still plenty of work to be done.

It was fitting that the first professional boxing bill at the Denaby Main venue would be headlined by a fighter from barely a mile down the road.

And Conisbrough lightweight Steven Hale remained unbeaten after a 59-55 points win over a game Jamie Quinn.

When Hale stuck behind his jab he was comfortable but was regularly drawn into a brawl by the rough and ready Quinn.

Hale – now with nine wins from nine – was rarely flustered however and was worthy of the wide points margin.

Barnsley’s Central Area lightweight champion Robbie Barrett ticked over with a 40-37 win over Sylwester Walczak.

Southpaw Barrett showed some smart boxing skill to hit and move, catching heavily with the back hand on several occasions. He moved his record to 11-2-1.

Rotherham’s Lee Appleyard delivered a confident performance in his first bout since taking on Bull as his trainer.

He won every round of his six round contest against Alex Phillips to move onto 6-1-0.