By Elliot Foster
Mike Stafford was brave in defeat as he was pulled out in a challenge for the Commonwealth crown.
The Southport man, who dropped to 16-4 at the Leicester Arena on Saturday, lost to cruiserweight Luke Watkins.
Stafford was looking to win the rainbow belt, exclusively live on 5Spike, on Cyclone Promotions’ ‘All Or Nothing’ card.
And he looked well on the way to doing it in the early rounds as he rocked ‘The Duke’, who won the vacant belt in his last fight just two months ago, onto his heels in the third round.
But Watkins continued to take the shots that the challenger threw and continued to plough on with his own attacks and, with the victory, became the first man to stop Stafford.
There were words from the 36-year-old’s trainer Karl Ince at the end of the seventh round that he would have to win the next round.
And despite all his efforts, Stafford’s team felt he hadn’t done enough and informed referee Howard Foster of their decision to save their man for another day.
Earlier in the card, Craig Morris won the vacant IBO Continental welterweight title with a points win over Ryan Martin.
The three scoring judges turned in tallies of 97-94, 97-92 and 97-93, as Martin dropped to 8-2 and Morris advanced to 9-1.
And there were inside-the-distance wins for Lee McGregor and Chris Billam-Smith.