Owen outpoints world rated Ferreri to take title


The Ring Magazine, November 1978
British Isles report by Ron Oliver

Ebbw Vale Leisure Centre

Welshman, Johnny Owen, entered the top bracket of world bantamweights by outpointing Australian Paul Ferreri over fifteen rounds, thus winning the vacant Commonwealth crown. The points margin of 148 1/2 - 145 1/2 seemed tough on Ferreri, but there can be no doubt that Owen deserved his victory.

The Welshman has come a long way in only seventeen bouts (he already holds the British
title) and to beat a man of Ferreri's stature (58 wins in 69 bouts) was a fine achievement. Southpaw Ferreri knows all the answers. At thirty years of age, he has his best years behind him, but many thought his greater experience and know-how would prove too much for Owen, who is so thin that is is said when he turns sideways he becomes invisible.

Johnny has been likened to the immortal Jimmy Wilde in appearance, rather unfairly, in my humble opinion. There was only one Jimmy Wilde, renowned for his power of punch while scaling well under eight stones (112 lbs.) for the whole of his career. Owen does not need to be compared with anyone. He can box and he can punch, and he'll get better. He's got stamina too, and only time will tell as to whether he will go on to challenge for a world crown.

Against Ferreri, the Welshman maintained his pressure throughout, quickly realized that his opponent was not a heavy puncher, and kept up a constant stream of jabs and hooks. Ferreri has a good defence and revealed clever ringcraft. But try as he may, he couldn't keep Owen at bay, and this was an occasion where youth overcame experience, with Ferreri visibly tiring toward the close.

The Aussie came in long on the bantam limit of 118, with Owen weighing 116 1/2. The Welsh fans, noted for their singing ability, rendered the anthem with such fervour that Ferreri must have felt even further away from home than he actually was. Yet the Australian was first into action, with a left to the body, a right to the chin, and a few quick punches of a light variety. Then it was Owen's turn, and the fans were quick to cheer his every punch. The pattern was soon apparent. Owen came forward, Ferreri circled the ring and countered. After the first four rounds, the Welshman forged ahead, but sometimes had to take two to land one. Soon the fans were setting to watch an excellent contest, with a lot of skill and ringcraft, and exceptionally clean-cut, with the referee Ronald Dakin, not finding it necessary to censure or even call "break." Then, just as it appeared that Owen had slowed his opponent down with his persistent attacks, back came Ferreri in the eighth with clever jabs on the retreat, clusters instead of single blows. His skill was enough to keep the initiative in the next two rounds, and Owen knew he still had a fight on his hands.

Hard blows were exchanged, the cleaner ones by Ferreri, but they had little or no effect on Owen, whose strength now became the deciding factor. Ferreri couldn't sustain the pace, Owen raised the tempo, and from then on the Australian was fighting a losing battle. He boxed only in short bursts, whereas Owen kept forcing, kept punching away, with Ferreri's left eye swollen in the thirteenth and a great deal of his poise gone. Yet the Australian bitterly contested the final round, even though he must have known that he had lost.

Much credit to both men, and the fans showed their appreciation with generous applause for Ferreri as well as for their own fighter. So it's two titles for Owen, and maybe a third when he fights for the European crown later this season.


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