Bilbao battler Kerman Lejarraga became a two-weight European champion with a wafer-thin, majority technical decision over flashy Frenchman Dylan Charrat in an absorbing encounter at the Pabellón de la Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona on Saturday night.
Scores were 96-94, 96-95 (Lejarraga) and 95-95 (even) in the vacant EBU 154lbs title fight.
With the fight in the balance, Lejarraga (33-2, 25 KOs) suffered a cut after a head clash in the 10th that sent the bout to the cards with two of the judges, almost inevitably, seeing the fight for the house fighter as is the norm.
It seemed a bit harsh on Cannes’ Charrat (20-1-1, 6 KOs) who dazzled early with his combinations and movement before the chugging pressure of Lejarraga slowed his legs and ambition.
Charrat’s fluid jab and swift right hand caught the champion’s attention from the opening session. The flashy Frenchman was moving nicely early with Lejarraga in hot pursuit.
The challenger was growing in confidence and in full flow in the second. Lejarraga’s shots were stiff and his bodywork stout, but Charrat remained elusive and enterprising on the back foot.
The Bilbao favourite was squeezing the space from the ring in the third though Charrat pierced his guard with a flush right uppercut before dancing away from danger. Charrat was working the champion up and down with his jab in the fourth and his body blows were increasingly a factor.
Reeling off a hefty right uppercut, the slick Charrat was largely outboxing and outhustling the champion but in the sixth a left hook to the temple stung the challenger as the crowd roared.
They traded lusty blows in the seventh, but it was now a dogfight and that suited Lejarraga more. By the eighth, Charrat was gassing and Lejarraga taking over. The challenger was on his toes in the ninth but his early output had diminished.
There was a cut from Lejarraga’s right eye in the 10th after a clash of heads and that inspired Charrat again. After more action, the ringside doctor made an inspection before the fight was halted and headed to the cards, with two judges siding with the crowd favourite.
A rematch should be forthcoming.
Earlier, Spain’s Mary Romero was far too sharp and savvy for Manchester’s Amy Timlin, forcing an eighth-round retirement to retain her European 122lbs title.
The champion from Murcia was bullish and purposeful from the opening exchanges. Romero’s overhand right proved an immediate thorn in Timlin’s side, cutting her left eye in the first round.
Romero (7-2, 2 KOs) was working the body effectively and Timlin lacked the snap and seasoning to change the narrative. The Spanish fighter poured forward, undaunted by whatever Timlin threw in return.
The challenger found some confidence around the midway point, but it wasn’t enough to deter Romero’s quickfire sorties. The champion’s workrate caught the eye again in the sixth. Romero was properly bullying Timlin in the seventh, catching her with a right hand in a corner.
The one-way traffic continued in the eighth before Timlin (4-1-1, 0 KOs) was compassionately withdrawn by Kieran Farrell in her corner. She’s only 21 and should come again.
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.