Fabio Wardley was crowned British heavyweight champion after a thrilling three-round shoot-out with Nathan Gorman at Wembley Arena on the Whyte-Franklin bill.

Wardley had looked in trouble in the second round as his nose was smashed and he was rocked twice, but he stormed back to knock Gorman down three times before the towel came in from Gorman’s corner.

There is no lack of history that goes along with the British heavyweight title, with numerous titles for the belt having taken place at Wembley Arena, but there has never been an era like now for British heavyweights.

Once the champion was comfortably the best big man in the country – Henry Cooper was famously the only boxer to win three Lonsdale Belts outright, so long was his reign. But Wardley and Gorman are only the sixth and seventh best heavyweights in the country right now. The belt was vacant after Joe Joyce had relinquished it.

Wardley took the fight to Gorman at the start, but all the impressive work early on came from Gorman, who worked well up close catching Wardley with a series of hooks and a decent uppercut in the first round.

The second round was one of the most thrilling you could ever hope to see. Gorman was on top early on, as he landed hard and rocked Wardley then followed it up by hurting him again with a right, before Wardley emerged with blood pouring for his nose that seemed to have been flattened.

But the adversity just seemed to ignite a fire in Wardley, who came storming after Wardley throwing huge right hands. Suddenly Gorman was backing into the ropes and a big right sent him crumbling to the floor.

When he rose, Wardley was on him again, landing big rights, walking through what Gorman was hurling back and another right sent him to the floor again, although he was able to see out the round.

Gorman tried to box his way back into the fight in the third, but when Wardley upped the pace again, he had no answer. A right hand seemed to knock Gorman off balance and another right sent him down for a third time.

He beat the count and Gorman was trying to get on his toes and keep out of trouble, but as Wardley closed in again, the towel came in from Gorman’s corner.

“It’s been a big old journey and so far so good,” Wardley said.

“I come from the Dillian Whyte school of hard knocks. I’m used to taking big shots, I’ve had plenty of hard scraps, so that is nothing new to me.”

The win extended Wardley's unbeaten record to 15 fights, all but one by stoppage. As a stablemate of Whyte and the other fighters above him in the UK targeting or holding world titles, the way ahead is likely to be a few defenses before pressing on for a European title. 

Britain, though, has another serious heavyweight.

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.