By Elliot Foster
Echo Arena, Liverpool - Tom Farrell left the ring as a champion.
The Liverpool super-lightweight, who had a career-best win last time out at Goodison Park, was forced to rally, bite down on his gumshield and grind out a points victory at the ECHO Arena.
Farrell, now 10-0 (2 KOs), outpointed Belgium’s game Farid Hakimi over 10 rounds, as part of the undercard to Tony Bellew’s four-knockdown demolition of colourful Californian BJ Flores in which he retained the WBC cruiserweight crown.
He is now the WBA International champion, Farrell, at 140 pounds after being handed the decision with scorecards of 95-95 and 96-94 twice.
Hakimi slips to 9-2 (5 KOs) in defeat.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Scott Fitzgerald survived a third-round knockdown to claim a six-round points victory over Adam Jones.
And Steve Brogan remained undefeated with a win against Chris Adaway.
Mairis Briedis outlined his credentials as the mandatory challenger to Tony Bellew.
The Latvian, who currently holds the WBC Silver cruiserweight title, ousted Simon Valilly, the previously undefeated prospect, in the third round.
Their clash was set for eight rounds at the ECHO Arena, exclusively live on Sky Sports, as part of the undercard to the aforementioned Bellew’s first defence of the WBC belt against colourful Californian BJ Flores.
Both went at it from the opening bell, with Briedis having the upper hand in the opener.
It was then nearly chaos as the pair had to be split following a spat after the bell.
But the end came in the third round when valiant Valilly was backed up against the ropes to the left side of the ring where the more experienced fighter, who is now 21-0 (18 KOs), teed off with powerful left hooks, one of which dropped the 31-year-old Middlesbrough man (now 9-1, 2 KOs) in what turned out to be the final round, before the referee stepped in after two minutes and 36 seconds.
Meanwhile, Rocky Fielding returned with a stoppage.
The 29-year-old super-middleweight got rid of Istvan Zeller inside two rounds, with a knockdown in each stanza, before the referee stepped in after 44 seconds of that round.
Fielding is now 23-1 with 13 early endings, while Zeller slipped to 33-13 (10 KOs).
His stablemate, Craig Glover, who is managed by Bellew, went to points for the second time, scoring a 40-36 victory over the ever-durable Rolandas Cesna of Lithuania.
Ged Carroll was handed a razor-thin decision against Irvin Magno, who has now slipped to 0-2-1.
‘The G-Man’ is now undefeated in three outings as a pro and was involved in a cracking four-round clash against a man, who is known as ‘Filipino Tank’, who is much better than his record suggests.
The third man in the ring, Steve Gray, scored it 39-38.
And Paul Economides earned a 60-54 points win over Elvis Guillen in his first fight since his appearance at Everton Football Club’s Goodison Park back in May.