A tireless Samir Ziani produced a truly breathless performance to steamroller an extremely game Alex Dilmaghani into a last gasp, 12th round defeat at the Production Park Studios in Wakefield on Saturday night.
European 130lbs champion Ziani was utterly relentless, finally flooring Dilmaghani three times in the 12thround (only two knockdowns were officially given) before the fight was waved off in the dying seconds.
Agonisingly for the challenger, Dilmaghani was ahead on two cards before Zianiâ€™s almost crazed blitz in the final round. There were high hopes for this all-southpaw battle, but it went beyond expectation.
Ziani was extremely dangerous early on with the left cross and uppercut, and seemed to crank into gear as the rounds progressed with bursts of frenetic pressure. Dilmaghaniâ€™s best work came to the body as he tried to stem the Frenchmanâ€™s whirlwind assaults. The champion tore into him but Dilmaghani (19-2-1, 8 KOs and 1 NC) seems to relish this kind of trenches war and met him head on.
The Crayford manâ€™s jab started to make inroads in the fifth and he began to read Zianiâ€™s left hands and roll away from danger. Dilmaghani doubled up the champion with right hands to the body in the sixth, but was marked up around the right eye for his troubles.
Ziani (32-3-1, 7 KOs) upped the ante in the seventh and Dilmaghani couldnâ€™t stave off his ceaseless onslaught. A left uppercut buzzed Dilmaghani near the end of the eighth and Ziani pounced with an endless stream of blows.
Dilmaghani was warned for the elbow in the ninth but stunned Ziani with a stiff left hand that briefly stemmed the championâ€™s march. Yet Ziani seemed to walk through everything.
The challenger looked bright in the 10th. His shots were crisp and effective as Ziani flailed away regardless. The action remained relentless in the penultimate round with Ziani gradually taking over and staggering the challenger near the end of a breathless session.
Dilmaghani was under horrendous pressure in the final round. He was kept up by the ropes after shipping a huge left hand though Ziani would not be denied. The challenger was soon dropped officially in a corner with another left but rose gingerly with around 15 seconds remaining. He looked out on his feet and, after he was floored again in the closing moments, the referee decided to wave it off mere seconds before the scorecards.
Dilmaghani was later taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.
On the undercard, Brixton cruiserweight Isaac Chamberlain continued his career rebuild by bombing out Wolverhamptonâ€™s Matt Sen in just 50 seconds.
With his back to the ropes, Chamberlain unleashed a big left hook that badly buzzed the previously aggressive Sen and swiftly turned the tables. Chamberlain poured on the pressure, rocking Sen with a succession of right uppercuts before referee Mark Lyson intervened.
On the undercard, Irish 140lbs hope Steve McKenna needed just 73 seconds to brush aside Gary McGuire though he risked disqualification or a point deduction after hitting his fallen foe with a right hand after the first of three knockdowns.
Referee John Latham warned McKenna before the Irishman carried on where he left off, at breakneck speed, scoring two further knockdowns via a right hand and a left hook before McGuireâ€™s corner threw in the towel.
Middleweight prospect Michael Hennessy Jr. suffered a surprise defeat on his fatherâ€™s promotion when he was outpointed by the unsung Jamie Stewart. Referee Lyson scored 58-56.
Stewart, a former inmate who has done nine stretches in prison, earned the nod with his greater endeavour. It was a close fight. Hennessy had some bright moments and spells of domination, but they were undone by a slack defence.
Unbeaten Idris Virgo dominated the action against the winless Scott Williams in every round, but couldnâ€™t find the stoppage in their light-heavyweight four-rounder. Referee Latham scored 40-36 for the former â€˜Love Islandâ€™ star.