Jack Rafferty moved a step closer to a shot at the British junior welterweight title with a conclusive ninth round stoppage of Ben Fields in Liverpool.
Rafferty (21-0, 12 KO’s) controlled the title eliminator from the start, establishing his range with a hard, accurate jab and firing in straight right hands to the body. Fields’ trademark aggression and desire ensured that the fight would never become a one sided procession and after struggling to find much success over the first four rounds, he ratcheted up the pressure in the fifth.
Rafferty, 27 and from Shaw, has become a much more well rounded fighter over the past 18 months and he maintained his shape, composure and strategy in the face of some sustained pressure from Fields. A left hand to the body dropped Fields in the sixth and although referee Ron Kearney decided it had strayed slightly low, Rafferty quickly realised that a sustained body attack was his most likely route to a stoppage victory.
Despite being hurt numerous times by left hooks and short right hands to the stomach, Fields kept firing back and the fight became an exciting - if slightly one sided - affair.
Eventually in the ninth, another left to the body hurt Fields and Rafferty quickly followed it with a heavy left hook to the head. Fields went down heavily but made it to his feet. However, there was no respite and Rafferty became just the second man to stop Fields with a relentless two handed attack. The official time of the stoppage was 1.22 of the ninth round.
Rafferty picked up the Commonwealth Silver title but his focus is solely on the British title currently held by Dalton Smith.
“I knew Ben was tough but I didn’t know he was like that,” Rafferty said. “I hit him with some solid shots and he hit me with some. It was a competitive bout and I had to stick to my guns. There wasn’t a second I thought I could get him out of there. I had to work for that. I dug deep, stuck in there, listened to what Steve [Maylett, his trainer] said and I’ve done it.
“I want them big fights. I want the British title. I know there’s somebody else here tonight I was supposed to fight who had an injury [Lee Appleyard] but whatever my team says, whatever Steve says and whatever I’ve got to do to get that British title, I’ll be doing it.”
40 miles away in Bolton, Dan Catlin claimed the Central Area middleweight with a spectacular third round knockout or former champion, Jack Kilgannon.
The pair set a hot pace from the outset. Catlin hurt Kilgannon in the second round with a sweeping overhand right and ended the fight in the third with a perfectly timed right hand that sent Kilgannon through the ropes and onto the arena floor. Thankfully Kilgannon was ok.
Catlin (10-1, 5 KO’s) continued the tremendous run of form being enjoyed by his trainers, Michael and Dave Jennings. The pair masterminded Mark Jeffers’ English super middleweight title victory over Zak Chelli and Jack Cullen’s knockout of Mark Heffron to win the British and Commonwealth super middleweight titles.