Larry Ekundayo stormed to victory in the Betfair Prizefighter Light-Middleweights III – becoming the first man to pocket the £2,000 KO bonus after stopping Terry Carruthers in the final.
Ekundayo entered the tournament with just two pro contests on his CV, but beat the favourite Craig McEwan in the opening quarter-final and followed that up with another impressive win, this time over McEwan’s fellow Scot Kris Carslaw in the semis.
Carruthers’ took six gruelling rounds to reach the final, kicking off with a barnstorming win in the third quarter-final of the night against Peter Vaughan. A split decision win over Nav Mansouri in the second semi-final got Carruthers into the final, but the first two fights took their toll on the Birmingham man and Ekundayo cashed in, controlling the fight in the opening two rounds before pouncing as the third round drew to a close, forcing the stoppage with 24 seconds left to graduate to the big time with a healthy bonus in his pocket.
“This is a massive jump for me and it's what I was made for,” said Ekundayo. “My team know what's best for me, they told me to go in Prizefighter and I won it so they are great judges of what I can do.
“All these guys are really tough fighters, Terry is a warrior and I am glad I had him last as he was more tired. He is heavier and bigger than me but I didn't engage with him and that's what got me the win.
“I got to the semi-finals of the ABAs but never won it so this is fantastic. I've got a great team around me that drive me on and push me to train hard.”
Ekundayo’s manager Spencer Fearon revealed after the fight that he will now unleash his charge on the welterweight division.
“We're going to get him down to his natural weight which is welterweight but we don't want to rush things with him,” said Fearon. “He's got his natural skill set and I'm glad he's showcased his talent in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
“You only got to see snippets of Larry. I've known Craig for years, he's only lost to two guys before, Andy Lee and Peter Quillin, one's fought for a World title, the other is a World champion, and Larry beat him.
“It couldn't happen to a nicer guy than Larry – they say nice guys finish last but that couldn't be further from the truth for him.”
Despite coming up short in the final, Carruthers was thrilled with his nights work and his stock continues to rise after adding his Prizefighter runners-up spot to impressive performances in recent clashes with Chris Eubank Jr. and Eamonn O’Kane.
“I put my all in and couldn't have done any more,” said Carruthers. “I had two gruelling fights before the final and the best man won on the night. I think I have won a lot of fans tonight, I am gutted I got stopped but I think that I did myself a lot of good.”