Craig Richards brought the power to chop down Shakan Pitters and claim the British light-heavyweight title with a ninth-round stoppage on the final UK show of the year promoted by Hennessy Sports in Redditch, Worcestershire.
Pitters had won the title at the same television studio in August and was the heavy betting favourite, but he was unable to exploit his huge reach advantage and subdue Richards, who dropped the champion in the fourth round and finished the job in the ninth.
“I told everyone that every time I fight a journeyman or someone I am expected to beat, I am a bit flat,” Richards said. “Every title fight I have been the underdog and tonight again I was an even bigger underdog and another knockout just to show people. When there is something on the line I am motivated, I am a dangerous man.
“I’ve been around the sport long enough to know anything can happen.”
It was Richards’s second attempt to win the title, having lost on points to Frank Buglioni on the undercard of Anthony Joshua-Carlos Takam in Cardiff in 2017. It puts the 30-year-old South Londoner in an interesting position heading into 2021, with a packed domestic light-heavyweight division including Joshua Buatsi, Callum Johnson, Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde.
After a close opening round, Pitters controlled the second behind his long jab. Richards stepped matters up in the third, timing Pitters’ jab and then landing a combination that back the champion into the ropes.
He continued with a positive start to the fourth, as he caught Pitters with a clubbing right to the side of the head, which seemed to stagger the champion. Pitters tried to exchange but was then beaten to the punch by Richards, who landed with a right hook that dropped the champion to the floor.
Pitters was up at three on shaky legs and went on the backfoot, as Richards tried to find a finisher. One right uppercut caught him clean and then a right hook landed and another uppercut, which had Pitters in trouble, although he picked his way through the trouble and survived the round.
The fifth was a quieter round, but Pitters re-established himself in the sixth, landing an accurate right cross and then getting the best of an exchange at the end of the round.
Richards stormed back in the seventh, though, landing well with the right, although when he then tried a wide left hook, he walked into a right hook himself.
He was proving a tough man to dissuade, though, and Richards began the ninth round with a sense of urgency, hunting after Pitters. He got his reward as he got through with another big right hook that took Pitters’s legs from beneath him. He held himself up by the ropes, but Richards was on him, landing another right than sent the Midlander backpeddling across the ring. Up against the ropes, Pitters tried a big right hand, which missed and was countered by a left hook that dropped him heavily to the floor.
Pitters was up at seven, but was on unsteady legs and referee Victor Loughlin waved it off, much to Pitters’s disgust at 2:42 of the ninth round.
River Wilson-Bent uncorked a monstrous right hand to flatten Troi Coleman and claim the vacant Midlands Area middleweight title in the third of a scheduled ten-rounder between unbeaten boxers.
The first two rounds had been close but competitive, but everything was settled in one moment as Wilson-Bent landed an overhand right that dropped Coleman heavily. He scrambled back to his feet at nine, but referee Bob Williams counted him out on his feet, with Coleman barely able to stand. The time was 1:42.
Stephen Jackson made a sensational professional debut as he came in as a late substitute to stop Sam Cantwell in the sixth and final round of their super-bantamweight clash.
Cantwell, the son of former three-time world title challenger Mick, had been expecting to box for a Southern Area title and might have thought he was in for a comfortable night when told he was facing someone who had never boxed as a professional before.
But Jackson took his chance brilliantly, dominating from the opening bell, catching Cantwell with combinations and short hooks. In the final round, Cantwell was sent out with instructions to go for the stoppage, but he walked into trouble and, after a long right hook rocked Cantwell, Jackson didn’t let him off the hook, hurting him several more times before Steve Gray, the referee, rather belatedly stopped the fight at 0:49 of the sixth.
Stephen McKenna kept up his winning streak with a second victory inside a week as he stopped Des Newton in the third round of a super-lightweight six-rounder, dropping Newton face first after a right to the side of the head to finish the job.
Brett McGinty battled his way to a points win over Jan Ardon at light-heavyweight in his professional debut, referee Steve Gray scoring it 59-55.
Super middleweight Idris Virgo remained unbeaten with a six-rounds points win over Kearon Thomas.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. 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.