Wale wins tricky contest

Josh Wale against the awkward Elemir Rafael. Picture: Kevin Finn
Josh Wale against the awkward Elemir Rafael. Picture: Kevin Finn

JOSH Wale has certainly faced tougher opponents than Elemir Rafael but he has never fought one as tricky.

The Slovakian fighter offered very little in terms of attacking presence but what he lacked in aggression he certainly made up for in awkwardness.

It took three rounds for Wale to find the key to undo Rafael and end a match he clearly was not enjoying.

Most of the crowd at Barnsley Metrodome felt the same way as Rafael did his best to spoil what could only loosely be termed a contest.

Every time Wale advanced, Rafael dropped his head low and tried to hold, making it very difficult for the all action bantamweight to land.

But the often fiery Wale deserves a lot of credit for not losing his head and doing something silly as he searched for a way to get rid of his opponent.

Instead the 23-year-old was patient and as the rounds wore on he increasingly found the gaps in the somewhat unorthodox defence.

From the first bell the bout was scrappy, particularly as Rafael skated around the ring in boots that seemed to have lost their grip a few years ago.

The Slovakian touched down early in the round but it was merely the first of several slips.

With his opponent’s head well protected, Wale dropped to the body and found success with several searching shots.

There were times in the second round when Rafael could not have been further on a back foot stance.

And when Wale did manage to close in, Rafael looked to lean and each time went in cynically with his head leading.

Wale adapted well and kept him away with better and better effect as the round wore on.

He found hooks to be the best weapon and when one landed, he quickly followed up with another.

Each time Rafael took a shot his legs would wobble in almost comical fashion.

Wale closed the round with a good combination which showed Rafael was certainly vulnerable to a stoppage.

And the Brampton fighter seemed to sense that as he emerged for the first, sticking Rafael early with a straight that saw him drop to his knees.

The Slovakian survived the count but his card had been marked and he went into retreat mode.

Wale soon stopped him with a solid jab and right hook combination which opened up the way for a barrage of shots.

Referee Michael Alexander had seen enough and waved off the bout with three seconds of the third round to go.

If Wale needs any motivation to win a major domestic title sooner rather than later - other than to satisfy the desire and determination he possesses in abundance - it is to avoid opponents like Rafael for good.

Wale’s gym mate Ross Blackwell took all four rounds against Jonathan Fry to take his record to 3-1.

The Wombwell fighter worked hard against the stocky and aggressive Fry, using a considerable height advantage to plug away with body shots in the early stages.

Fry was less eager to charge in after the first round and Blackwell had a harder time finding the target.

But the 19-year-old remained in control and chose his opportunities well to earn a 40-36 points decision from referee Howard Foster.

Stairfoot fighter Matthew Mallin made it four wins from four fights by out-pointing Steve Spence 40-36.