LIAM DILLON claimed the vacant British super-featherweight title via a split decision victory over Qais Ashfaq - then dedicated the belt to his late sister Lauren.
Underdog Dillon, who has previously won the Southern Area and English titles at 130lb, pushed the pace hard and dropped Ashfaq in the fourth and the ninth round at the Newcastle Arena.
Even so, judge Ron Kearney scored Ashfaq a 115-112 winner. But, Michael Alexander had it to Dillon by the same total so when Terry O’Connor scored it 117-111 to Dillon, it was the Chingford man who claimed the belt.
Both men were cut during a barnstorming, all-action contest but it was Dillon who appeared to handle the pace best and his pair of knockdowns made the difference.
Afterwards the emotional 27-year-old said: “I cannot put this into words. I’d just like to dedicate it to my beautiful little sister Lauren, who we lost on 15th of February.”
When asked who he might target next after this unheralded run to the British title, he added: “I’ve taken each fight as it comes, a title if I can, I’ve won three belts. I’d like to unify the British with the Commonwealth next.
“Who next? I do scaffolding. Some jobs are sh!t, some jobs are great. Whoever I need to fight next, I don’t care.”
At heavyweight, in the final fight before the main event, Franklin Ignatius maintained his undefeated record by comfortably outpointing local man Steve Robinson in a largely pedestrian encounter.
In a tentative first round, both men landed occasionally but in the second it was Ignatius who started to throw more caution to the wind. He got through with one right hand in particular which seemed to momentarily stiffen Robinson, who was attempting to land with a left hook of his own.
Ignatius landed a good left hook in the third and then went straight to work in the fourth, landing a big right hand early on. But Robinson was taking them well although he was nowhere near busy enough. And, almost every time he did throw, Ignatius was countering with big right hands over the top.
In truth, it was untidy all round, with both men spending a lot of time smothering their work up close and unable to really set anything up.
But in the seventh round, Ignatius had the best spell of the fight, finally deciding to attack with a bit more consistency. Robinson was still taking them well but looked exhausted. In the eighth and final round, however, he was the one piling on the pressure but he never really put a dent in Ignatius and it was far too little much too late. Referee Kearney rightly scored it 79-74 in Ignatius’ favour.
Earlier, there was also a return to the ring for former British light-middleweight champion Troy Williamson in his first fight since he lost widely on the cards to Josh Kelly in December.
Williamson, now 31, won every round of this six-threes contest against 19-24-3 Nicaraguan Ramiro Blanco.