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
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.