Dan Azeez retained his Lonsdale belt with a points victory over a former title holder.
The light-heavyweight took on Shakan Pitters.
Pitters is huge for the weight and Azeez had to work to close down the range between them.
In the early going at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, exclusively live on Sky Sports, Pitters used effective right uppercuts, the perfect shot against a smaller opponent bobbing his way forward onto the inside.
But he was counting on single shots and when Azeez stood up close, he worked with hooks, chipping away at the tall challenger, as part of the supporting cast to Liam Smith’s clash against former sparring partner Hassan Mwakinyo.
Azeez landed some solid jabs from the outside and then bounded forward up close against Pitters, who failed to keep the champion – who secured scorecards of 117-111, 117-112 and 115-113 – on the end of his jab.
Pitters was slinging hooks to try to get onto the front foot, but Azeez kept at it and pulled through at the very end with a big work rate.
Meanwhile, Adam Azim scored his third successive first-round knockout against a late replacement opponent in the shape of Michel Daniel Cabral.
Azim, trained by Shane McGuigan, is highly touted as one of the country’s hottest prospects and he’s living up to the potential.
Azim was scheduled to go 10 rounds against the Argentine, but it was over inside the first with the 20-year-old, who walked out to Gerry Marsden’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ anthem, moving to 6-0 with five quick after two shots dropped the visitor who failed to recover after a left hook to the body and right hand to the head saw him floored and unable to beat the count, with the referee calling it at one minute and 54 seconds.
Ben Shalom, the Boxxer CEO, was purring about his young charge in the aftermath but insisted that rushing him would be the wrong move.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said:
“The trouble is in Britain, he’s been sparring around the country, nobody wants to fight him.
“Yes, of course, he’ll step up now, we want to see him in big fights, but what are we supposed to do? He’s got 10 years of this.
“He’s going to be a young, young world champion and we’ll take our time.”
There were a string of wins for Frankie Stringer –– over four rounds as he moved to 2-0 against Karl Sampson –– as well as Nathan Quarless, who dropped his man Tony Visic in the second round en-route to a 60-53 points win, and debutant Clark Smith, while Scott Forrest kicked off the show with a third-round stoppage win over Dmitrij Kalinovskij. The Rotunda ABC-trained fighter, from Scotland, is now 3-0 with three quick finishes after Gray called a halt to the action after 01:34 of the third of six scheduled stanzas.
But Diego Costa lost his unblemished ledger as he came up short over a late replacement opponent.
The Brazilian was meant to take on John Docherty on the card, but after that was canned at the 11th hour, he was faced with the challenge of Musa Moyo.
The Leicester-based Zimbabwean, 26, was given the decision on referee Latham’s scorecard by a 58-56 margin.