Archie Sharp, the WBO’s No 2 super-featherweight, worked off some ring rust after 11 months out of the ring and had to overcome a nasty looking cut before earning a unanimous points decision over Mexico’s Diego Andrade in their often messy. show closer at the Royal Albert Hall.
Sharp did well in the main against an awkward opponent, but never really threatened to produce a stoppage.
Andrade was tough but basic. He seemed to carry some power, but lacked the skills to get in position to make it count. Instead he was often wild with his punches in a fight that got increasingly messy and bad tempered.
Sharp made a fast start, pinging Andrade with hooks with both hands, He used his reach advantage well against the Mexican, but when he missed the action tended to end up in a clinch.
By the fourth round, Andrade was frustrated, and he stepped back into a corner and waved Sharp in, then flinging himself at the British boxer throwing wild hooks.
Midway through the fifth round, Sharp went in low and lifted Andrade on his back and then dropping him head first. For a few moments he lay there, referee Howard Foster telling him to get up, before issuing Sharp with a stern warning.
When Sharp found his rhythm, however he looked good, moving away and walking Andrade into punches.
By the seventh round, he seemed to have given up any hope of stopping Andrade and he was happy to box and move and pick his way to victory. Andrade did get through with some decent punches, but tended to end the rounds with a ticking off from referee Foster for throwing after the bell.
A clash of heads in the eighth round left Sharp with a cut over his right eye, while he finished the round returning the favour when his head crunched into Andrade’s nose.
Sharp, though, boxed well throughout the last round to finish on a bright note.
All three judges sided with Sharp, by scores of 99-93 and 97-93 (twice).
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.