Jono Carroll has claimed the vacant IBF inter-continental super-featherweight title with a third-round stoppage win over Humberto de Santiago at Belfast’s SSE Odyssey Arena.
Meath-based Dubliner Carroll was victorious in the first title fight to take place on the ‘Frampton Reborn’ undercard, which is topped by two-weight world champion Carl Frampton’s ring return.
Carroll was due to fight old rival Declan Geraghty on the bill but De Santiago was drafted in as a replacement opponent after Crumlin native Geraghty was forced out of the bout due to a hand injury.
The Dubliner was aggressive from the opening bell and while referee Phil Edwards warned the 25-year-old for throwing a few borderline low shots, he was landing plenty of legal and damaging punches throughout the bout.
De Santiago (now 15-5-1) had never been stopped prior to the contest, but Carroll (15-0) trapped the Mexican on the ropes to force a stoppage at 2mins 16 seconds of the third round to claim the stepping-stone title and boost his world ranking.
Kildare’s Gary Cully was the first MTK Global fighter in action, with the undefeated lightweight prospect taking on Birmingham’s Kane Baker.
Cully worked well off his jab, with the southpaw producing a composed performance from the opening bell. The Naas native picked his shots with precision, with trainer Pete Taylor offering his encouragement throughout.
Baker was marked up on his left eye by the third and Cully put his opponent down in the fourth with a whipping short left hand. The visitor managed to return to his feet, but Cully (now 3-0 as a pro) deservedly claimed a dominant 40-35 points victory over Baker (now 4-2) to get Team MTK off to a winning start.
Belfast cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy was next in action with the former Irish Elite amateur champion up against Blaise Mendouo.
The Manchester-based Cameroonian carried a 4-7 record into the fight, but he proved to be a game foe and provided a decent test for McCarthy, who was competing in his second bout in the space of a month after nearly a year out of the ring.
McCarthy had a slow start gradually took control, landing a number of combos to his opponent’s head in the fourth while he forced Mendouo to the ropes with a barrage of blows in the following round, but the visitor managed to stay on his feet.
T-Mac was eventually awarded a 60-55 points win after a welcome opportunity to shake off some lingering ring rust.
Marco McCullough made it back-to-back victories for Belfast as he claimed a third-round stoppage win over Josh Baillie in their six-round featherweight clash.
A Lovely short left hook from McCullough briefly staggered Baillie in the second and the former BUI Irish champ ended the fight after just 32 seconds of the third to move to 18-4 as a pro after a chopping right hand floored Baillie.
Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce was the second Pete Taylor-trained fighter to take to the ring, with the six-time Irish elite amateur champion clashing with Barcelona-based Nicaraguan Reynaldo Cajina.
The bullish Joyce – a former amateur rival of Carl Frampton – inadvertently hit his opponent low in the second, which led to the only bit of respite that Cajina enjoyed. Joyce was typically incessant in his attacks and continually hassled and harried the Nicaraguan in pursuit of a stoppage.
The visitor’s corner eventually called a halt at the end of the third as Joyce recorded his fifth paid victory.
Belfast’s heavy hitter Lewis Crocker was the next MTK talent on show, taking on Budapest novice Gyula Rozsas. Always in a rush, the powerful Crocker (now 4-0) blasted his foe away after just 1min 50secs of the first round having trapped Rozsas on the ropes.
Light-heavyweight Steven Ward wrapped up the pre-TV broadcast undercard, claiming his sixth pro win against Przemyslaw Binienda of Poland.
The 27-year-old Belfast man produced a disciplined and measured performance against his journeyman opponent, nailing Binienda with a heavy left hand midway through the third.
Towards the end of the fifth and early on in the final round, Ward landed a number of flurries as he eased his way to a 60-55 points win.
Later, Liverpool heavyweight Alex Dickinson moved to 3-0 after defeating Bulgarian novice journeyman Milen Paunov in their four-rounder.