1 May 2010 – By Steve Wellings
Darren Corbett bowed out of the Prizefighter tournament in contentious circumstances on Friday night. Following a routine points win over John Anthony in the quarter-final Corbett was due to meet Herbie Hide in his next contest.
But after sustaining a cut in his opener with Wayne Brooks, Herbie dramatically withdrew from the tournament leaving a coin-toss to decide who Corbett would face in the semi-final. Durable journeyman Nick Okoth won the toss and Darren was forced to re-adjust at short notice.
Okoth used his freshness to outhustle Corbett early on, but the Belfastman landed some meaty hooks, and forced Nick to hold-on following a solid right hand. Darren never stopped chugging forward despite tiring late on in the round. The crowd voiced their disapproval at Okoths unanimous 29-28 victory but SKY TV commentators felt the Battersea veteran who calls himself The Ox had done enough to deserve his moment in the spotlight.
It had all started so well for Raging Bull Corbett, when beating Doncaster danger man John Anthony in the third quarter-final of the evening.
Corbett weighed in at 14st 6llb but started sharply, bull-rushing Anthony with rapid hooks and plenty of enthusiasm. Warned for rabbit punching in the opening session, Darren began searching for the type of punches that devastated the likes of Ray Kane in Belfast, as the bout quickly descended into a maul.
TV analyser Glenn McCrory thought the 37-year-old North Belfast native was blowing by the end of the second round as Anthony sent the waistline wobbling with a crunching body blow. Corbetts brother Ryan told Irish-boxing.com before the tournament that Darrens hand speed was underrated and it seemed to surprise the pedestrian Anthony as Corbetts extra quality told. Corbett shook his man with a right hand in the final round and claimed an academic 30-27 win on all three scorecards.
Admitting he felt rusty and a little tired in his first fight since the last cruiserweight Prizefighter, Corbett threw an impressive 142 shots in the bout and clearly outworked his rugged opponent. An all-action showdown with Hide was planned for the next phase, but the former WBO world champion pulled out backstage and the rest was history.
Newcastle stylist Jon-Lewis Dickinson looked like a smooth operator as he boxed his way to the title and stopped brave substitute Okoth with a classy display, which saw Nicks record fall to 9-28-5.
It was the first time a reserve had been called upon to take part in the event, but that statistic will matter little to a disappointed Corbett who must surely be considering retirement.