Robert Lloyd-Taylor became the first ever reserve fighter to win Prizefighter after defeating Nick Quigley in the Prizefighter Light-Middleweights II final at York Hall in Bethnal Green.
Lloyd-Taylor won the coin-toss with fellow reserve Nathan Weise after JJ Bird fainted in the dressing rooms and was picked out of the hat first by former British, European and Commonwealth Light-Middleweight champion Jamie Moore in the first ever live draw, and WBC Super-Middleweight champion Carl Froch matched him with former two-weight fringe organization world champion Takaloo. Lloyd-Taylor was undaunted by facing the ‘Margate Rock’ and kept the veteran at the end of his jab and reached the semi-finals through a split decision.
In the semis Lloyd-Taylor met the favourite Peter Vaughan but threw the form book out of the window with the only stoppage of the night, dropping the Banbury fighter after 90 seconds of the final round, before the contest was waved off in the dying embers.
Quigley had been involved in two wars to reach the final – taking a split decision in an all-Liverpool fourth quarter-final against Steve Harkin, before clinching a spot in the final in the fight of the night against Kris Agyei-Dua, where both men threw plenty of leather but Quigley took a unanimous decision.
The Liverpudlian gave so much in his first two fights and fought bravely in the final, but Lloyd-Taylor’s fairytale had a happy ending, with a confident performance impressing the judges who all gave him the fight 29-28 – meaning the 20th edition of Prizefighter saw a reserve take the £32,000 winner’s cheque for the first time.
“I had the hardest route to the final with the two favourites for the tournament so I should get some credibility from that tonight,” said Lloyd-Taylor. “I haven’t performed well on my last couple of turns on Sky Sports so that makes it really special to win tonight.
“The money is fantastic of course but I’ve never made money out of boxing – it’s never been about money, but now I’ll enjoy this and see what doors are opened.
“I was just sitting there and relaxing when they came in and said that JJ had pulled out. Nathan called heads, tails came down and I was getting taped up – I didn’t even have time to warm up. But that maybe helped in a way as I wasn’t tense at all and I got in there for the first fight.”
Quigley was left to rue a tough draw that saw him fight the last quarter-final and semi-final, but the previously unbeaten 22 year-old believes the night will push his career forward.
“Every fight I had felt like a final and against Robert I thought I did enough but I didn’t get the decision,” said Quigley. “That happens, it’s not the end of the world and I’m glad that I got the chance to show my skills and hopefully I’ve won some fans as well.
“It was sickening when I got Steve Harkin in the quarter-finals. He’s a good mate and that was like a loss, I was genuinely gutted.”
Unbeaten pair Vaughan and Wayne Goddard met in the second quarter-final and both men tore into action from the off, with Goddard enjoying success with some neat combinations but although Vaughan was often wild, he constantly stepped forward and held the centre of the ring, perhaps enough to get him the split decision.
The third quarter-final of the night was a real comeback tale for Agyei-Dua as he came off the canvas in the opening round against Jeff Thomas to claim victory on the referee’s card after the first draw in Prizefighter. A belting left hook from Thomas grounded the Brentwood man, but he came back strong from that point and his stylish and dominant display saw him through.
Fights between friends from the same city can often disappoint but Quigley and Harkin entertained the packed York Hall crowd with Quigley winning through to meet Agyei-Dua in a cracker of a semi-final, one that he won but expended valuable energy and Lloyd-Taylor capitalised in the final to make Prizefighter history.
Prizefighter Light Middleweights II results:
Robert Lloyd-Taylor beat Takaloo – split decision 29-28, 28-29, 29-28
Peter Vaughan beat Wayne Goddard – split decision 30-27, 28-29, 29-28
Kris Agyei-Dua beat Jeff Thomas – 29-28 on referee Terry O’Connor’s card after judges scored the contest a majority draw
Nick Quigley beat Steve Harkin – unanimous decision 29-28, 28-29, 29-28
Robert Lloyd-Taylor beat Peter Vaughan – third-round stoppage with 15 seconds remaining
Nick Quigley beat Kris Agyei-Dua – unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
Robert Lloyd-Taylor beat Nick Quigley – unanimous decision 29-28, 29-28, 29-28