Career Best Win For Metcalf Ends Lejarraga’s Dominance Over Brits

James Metcalf Beats Kerman Lejarraga

James Metcalf made sure there was no magnificent seven of wins against British fighters for Kerman Lejarraga.

A career best showing from the Liverpudlian saw him leave Bilbao with the WBA Continental super-welterweight belt after defeating the local favourite over ten rounds (97-94, 96-95, 96-94).

Six Brits before him since 2016 had faltered but Metcalf (23-2, 14 KOs) paid no attention to history and was switched on tactically from the first bell. And within the first 30 seconds he landed an eye- catching uppercut.
His movement around the ring, peppering the Spaniard with his jab and forcing him back with one-twos were just a few highlights from Metcalf. Of course, against someone as dangerous as Lejarraga (34-3, 26 KOs) you can never switch off and while ‘Revolver’ tried pulling the trigger his arsenal was

Both men were cut under the eye and while it looked like the Brit had been given a going over it was not the real evidence of what went down in the Bilbao Arena.

Lejarraga was arguably fortunate to not be deducted a point in round three when it looked like a right hand from Metcalf to the back of the head put his man down, but the knockdown was not awarded.

In rounds four and five the former European welterweight champion reminded Metcalf of what he could do. Lejarraga’s meaty jab was pinging the away fighter and it looked like dents were being made to head and body. The past has shown us Lejarraga knows how to turn the screw and take over a fight, but Metcalf began responding again from the sixth onwards.

The 33-year-old was undeterred by the blood on his face or the treatment Lejarraga was trying to dish out. What had served him well in the first three rounds was back in his toolbox which was displayed in the seventh when a one-two jolted Lejarraga on to the back foot.
Lejarraga was looking more and more ragged, some of his offence going astray allowing Metcalf to punish the errors. Exchanges took place on the inside and while that may have hurt previous opponents Metcalf was growing stronger and continued to force his man backwards.

In the ninth Lejarraga caught Metcalf with a right to the side of the head. The threat remained but good fundamentals kept ‘Kid Shamrock’ one step ahead. And as he pushed forward with another one-two followed by a left hook, he put the exclamation point on a performance that had been
waiting to come out.

The victory will see Metcalf climb into the WBA top 15, possibly near the top five. Those two losses in 2021 to Ted Cheeseman and Kieron Conway will now feel like a lifetime ago. Tonight, was a risk for Metcalf but the reward puts his career in great shape with even bigger fights to come.