Middleweight contender Danny Dignum had to settle for a split draw against Russian dangerman Andrey Sirotkin in the MTK Fight Night main event at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday night. Scores were 96-95 (Dignum), 96-94 (Sirotkin) and 95-95 (even).
Essex stylist Dignum (13-0-1, 7 KOs) had the better of the early rounds with his smooth southpaw jab, but Sirotkin (19-1-1, 7 KOs) rallied late on and dragged him into deep waters in the final three rounds. Dignum tired under pressure and had to contend with a cut over his left eye, but saw out the storm to retain his WBO European title.
“He was very tricky. I thought I nicked the fight and I felt fit in there and felt good. He was an awkward customer, but I thought that I did enough to win it,” said Dignum afterwards. “It is what it is, that’s boxing. Fair play to Sirotkin, he came over and put up a good fight. I’m not bitter, I thought I won but a draw is a draw. I’ll be back fitter and stronger and it’s all part of the experience.
“I don’t feel like a loser, I’ve just got to go back and learn. I got a bad cut and I couldn’t see out of my left eye, but I’ll recover and get back in the gym. I probably learned more in that fight than all of my others.”
Meanwhile, English light-heavyweight champion Dan Azeez (13-0, 8 KOs) retained his crown with a split decision over a spirited Ricky Summers (17-3-1, 6 KOs).
Scores were 97-93, 96-94 for Azeez, overruling a 95-97 vote for the challenger. A war broke out in the final two rounds after an even, more technical battle for most of the earlier sessions. The unbeaten Azeez appeared to always hold the edge and finished more strongly.
“I think my hunger was the difference. Ricky was a good operator and was tough. I hit him with some good shots and he gritted his teeth and called me on,” said Azeez.
“That is a fight that I need. I am calling out all these guys at the top, and that fight with Ricky is the kind that I need to let me know who is up there in my division. I’ve had the learning fights and I’m ready to step it up now.
“Hopefully, MTK Global can push me in the right direction. I’m a champion and a fighter, it’s in my blood, and I want to be in the mix at the top.”
Leeds super-bantam Jack Bateson (13-0, 3 KOs) scored a career-best win, outpointing Scotland’s seasoned John Ham (16-3, 6 KOs) in an eight-round rumble. Bateson finished strongly in the final two rounds to clinch the verdict. Referee Steve Gray’s score was 78-75.
“Joe is a great lad and a good friend of mine, but it is boxing at the end of the day and we had a good fight with each other,” said Bateson.
“I started as a southpaw and probably was for the majority of the fight, and I think that threw him. Those little things worked and helped me get the win. I was the best I ever felt on the scales and I was a different animal today once I fuelled up.
“I learned a lot in that fight, and in the next one I’ll make sure I make even less mistakes. Anybody who knows me knows what I put into this sport, and hopefully it will pay off for me in the end.”
Main image: MTK Global.