By Chris Williamson
Manchester Arena - Oldham middleweight Mark Heffron (now 20-0) stopped on-form Midlander Andrew ‘D'animal' Robinson in six rounds to win the vacant WBC International title.
The bout represented a significant step up for Hefron who'd never previously been scheduled to box more than eight rounds.
The hard-punching 26-year-old Hefron took the opener as he measuring Robinson for his favoured left hook honey-punch, before landing a hard right on the bell which knocked Robinson’s mouthguard out
Both men were warned for low blows throughout what was a gruelling and sometimes dirty but well contested match.
Heffron spent most of the fourth round as a southpaw, looking effective in the new stance as he landed a succession of hard lefts while Robinson’s left eye began to swell badly.
By the middle rounds it was becoming a punishing contest as the two slowed and exchanged heavy hooks, Robinson this time switching to southpaw in the sixth. It turned out to be a less effective move for Robinson as after brief respite for a low blow landed by Hefron, ‘Kid Dynamite’ finished the show with a two-handed combination which had the Redditch man reeling, until referee Ian John-Lewis stopped the fight two minutes and twenty two seconds into the round.
Liverpool prospect James Metcalf (now 18-0) won the vacant WBC International super welterweight title with a twelfth round stoppage of game, well-schooled Spaniard Aitor Nieto (now 22-6-1).
‘Kid Shamrock’ is the son of television friendly former light-welterweight contender Shea ’Shamrock Express' Neary and a dead ringer for his father - watching at ringside - right down to the crew cut haircut, black shorts and boots.
The scouser edged the opening stanza, landing a terrific left hook to the visitor’s head before taking the second with further pressure and by landing the cleaner punches on the wiry Spaniard, the pick of which was an excellent right hook on the ropes.
There was a wild exchange at the end of the third as Nieto landed several hard punches before Metcalf countered with a left hook, almost dropping Nieto. Still Nieto was skilled and gritty and even where the Brit was winning most of the rounds, few were clear.
By the middle rounds the contest became a technical war of attrition as Melcalf - like his father - doesn’t mind taking a punch in order to land his own. Nieto was happy to oblige, perhaps most notably with the right uppercut.
Metcalf was warned several times by referee Victor Louglan for low punches as he looked to punish Nieto;s midsection. A right hook landed by Metcalf wobbled Nietes in the closing seconds of the tenth and he seemed to smell blood.
A beautifully timed left hook floored the visitor heavily to start the twelfth before a patient Metcalf stalked Nieto before the referee stopped the bout after further sustained punishment at the two minutes and thirty seconds mark of the final round.