Back in September 2013 it was announced that former WBO and IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Champion, and World title challenger, Mark Prince was set to make his return to competitive action, on the Dave Murphy Acourtier Events promoted ‘NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS’ at York Hall, in London, on Friday 4th October.
Here is a brief overview of the first part of Mark’s pro boxing career and the life changing tragedy that was behind his return to the ring some fourteen years after his initial retirement from the sport.
On the 4th April 1993, Mark made short work of his first pro opponent, Birmingham’s Bobby Mack, by stopping him in the second round, early baths followed for both his next pair of opponents, John Kaighin and Art Stacey, Kaighin only made it to the third and Mark knocked out Stacey in the second.
His fourth opponent, Simon McDougall, did manage to go the distance but it was to be eight bouts later until the next opponent, American Lenzie Morgan, went the distance with ‘The Prince’.
Newcastle’s John Pierre also went the distance in Mark’s next fight, but after that it was almost two years before any opponent made it to the final bell.
Manchester’s Maurice ‘Hard’ Core lasted seven rounds, Leeds based Welshman Michael Gale lasted six rounds before Mark hit the Championship trail.
On the 11th September 1997 Mark faced American Bruce Rumbolz, for the WBO Inter-Continental title. Once again Mark made short work of things, stopping Rumbolz after just one minute and fifty one seconds of the third round.
In December Mark made his first defense, against Chicago’s USA’s Wayne Hankins, of his newly acquired title, Hankin’s faired only slightly better than Rumbolz, well lasted forty two seconds longer.
Mark then faced seriously tough American Kenny Whack, for the IBF Inter-Continental title. After twelve hard fought rounds ‘The Prince’ added the prestigious IBF belt to his collection.
On the 19th September 1998 Mark challenged long time WBO World Light Heavyweight King Dariusz Michalczewski. at the Arena Oberhausen in Germany, for his crown.
It was a cracking very close all action bout, that was until with just ten seconds to go in the eighth round Michalczewski landed a short sharp left hook to send Mark crashing to the canvas.
Two months later Mark returned to action, against Kevin Mitchell – no not Dagenham’s ‘Mighty’ Kevin Mitchell, but the Greenwich Cruiserweight – who Mark summarily dispatched in just forty three seconds of the first round.
Mark retired from the sport shortly after with a 19 win (15 by way of KO) and just the single loss.
Post boxing Mark dedicated himself to helping disadvantaged youngsters, by coaching and mentoring them.
Then just a few short years later Mark’s life changed dramatically, following the murder of his son Kiyan, a prodigious young footballer who played for Queens Park Rangers.
This personal tragedy spurred Mark to create the Kiyan Prince Foundation, www.kiyan.org – a not-for-profit organization that is committed to creating a legacy for Kiyan, by the combating of knife crime and other forms of youth violence.
Since creating the Kiyan Prince Foundation Mark has further dedicated his life to educating youngsters and campaigning for legislation on the carrying of knives. Mark was instrumental, along with then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, in the lobbying for knife crime to be introduced into the Violent Crime Reduction act that went before Parliament and received Royal assent in November 2006.
Back to the present:
The entire crowd at the York Hall were on their feet as Mark Prince began his ring walk, it’s strange, yes we were definitely at York Hall, but somehow it didn’t feel like it, it felt more like I was back in New York at Madison Square Gardens for a major World Championship bout, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, it was a strange but very exciting feeling that I remember so well, just this time instead of 10-20,000 highly excitable chanting fans there were just a thousand, but the reception Mark received was equally vociferous to anything I had encountered at any major event previously.
Sensibly Prince started the bout slowly and methodically, keeping Velecky at bay with some nice sharp jabs and the occasional right hand, to easily win the first round in my book.
Prince steps up the pace in the second, taking the fight to Velecky, some seriously beautiful and effective boxing from the former champ, Prince started to dig into his well stocked arsenal of punches, landing a couple of beautiful combinations on way to securing the second round.
Prince’s championship experience really began to show in the third, throughout he was calm and controlled as he picked off Velecky, with crisp jabs and solid rights and combinations to both body and head.
More of the same in the fourth, virtually every shot Prince threw landed, with very little coming back from Velecky, as the round progressed Prince started to load up the shots, then after a particularly cracking shot to Velecky’s jaw world class referee Mickey Vann decided enough is enough and stopped the fight before Velecky gets knocked out.
On March 1st 2014 Mark continued his journey, as main supportfor the excellent Marianne Marston–Hana Horakova title fight
Mark was in scintillating form, stopping Oleg Lopajeus in just two minutes and twenty seconds. With two sensational early stoppage wins under his belt, since his return to the fray last year, surely it’s just a matter of time before the former WBO and IBF Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Champion is back in Championship action?
Mark had to wait five months before that opportunity arose, when he fought Jiri Svacina for the vacant MBC International Cruiserweight crown.
From the start it was clear this was going to be a technical fight, both protagonists taking it really slow, feeling each other out with strong jabs but little else.Throughout the early rounds Prince mainly used his jab to try and work an opening, but Svacina is a savvy character, keeping his awkward guard in place throughout.
As the rounds progressed, without too much out and out action, referee Steve Holdsworth pulled the pair together, to give them a stiff talking to about the lack of action, after which both reacted with a flurry of attacks.
Without doubt the best attacks came from Prince, who controlled centre ring throughout, however Svacina’s countering kept the Londoner in check.
After the final bell rang, there was no surprise that it was Mark Prince that was announced victorious and the new MBC International Cruiserweight Champion, by unanimous decision.
Judges Tony Cesay and Lee Murtagh scored the bout 100-90, whilst judge Keith Webb scored the bout 100 -93.