Luke Campbell MBE and Tommy Coyle secured famous wins in Hull on Saturday night to remain on course for a blockbuster showdown next summer.
Campbell welcomed Argentine Daniel Brizuela back to the scene of his epic battle with Coyle in February, but the hometown Olympic hero ensured that there would be no repeat of that drama with a clinical display of his power and variety.
The 27 year old wasted little time in exerting his authority on Brizuela, landing heavy shots in the opening round before really finding his range in the third round where he wobbled the Argentine on the bell and breaking him down further in the fourth before ending the job in the fifth. Brizuela was on the deck with a minute to go in the round from a blistering attack and Campbell didn’t let him off the hook, pouncing on his dazed opponent to deliver a decisive salvo to make it nine pro wins and seven inside the distance.
“It’s a great win for me,” said Campbell. “He had a very elusive and awkward style and I hit him with some cracking shots in the first round and he just nodded to say, ‘OK, let’s have some more’. He’s a tough, tough customer so I had to nullify that and to get him out of there in five, I’m very happy. For him to come back here after his fight with Tommy, I take my hat off to him. Every fight has been a step up and you can see me getting better, the main thing is not to rush. I believe in the path that we are going on. I’ve had four fights on the spin now in four months, I think I will have a break and come back fresh in the New Year.”
Coyle was tasked with following Campbell’s brilliant performance and he did not disappoint. The Hull man faced Australian great Michael Katsidis in a second defence of his IBF International Lightweight title, and delivered a stunning one-punch knockout in the second round to destroy ‘The Great’.
Coyle slipped Katsidis’ attacks in the opening round whilst making an early impression himself, then delivered a sensational left hook that floored the former World champion and the 25 year old was delighted that the game he devised with trainer Jamie Moore worked so spectacularly.
“Pressure fighters can’t go backwards,” said Coyle. “Jamie is the best pressure there was and he told me if you offset his balance and get him going backwards, you will have success. We worked on that left hook in the dressing room before the fight and it’s come off.
“I can’t change my make-up and I was always going to have a war, but I was going to be smart about it. I know I am not the greatest fighter in the world but I am always going to deliver value for money, I am going to put bums on seats and put everything on the line every time.
“I was so scared and nervous about losing, I’d visualised being in the worst pain ever as I had put him on a pedestal for 12 weeks. The night was perfect and with Luke winning, it sets the fight up in the summer of next year.”
On a potential fight with Coyle, Campbell added: “We both have the utmost respect for one another but through the city of Hull we are both loved and supported and the fight is being talked about a lot here. Our job is to entertain the fans and for the business and entertainment side of things, we can put our friendship on hold for 30-odd minute.”
There was a hat-trick of career-best wins on the night as Gavin McDonnell saw off former World title challenger Vusi Malinga to land the vacant WBO International Super-Bantamweight title.
McDonnell made the leap into international class following a draw with Josh Wale in his British title defence in May, and the South African provided a tough examination of his credentials at the top level.
The Doncaster man enjoyed the best of the early action and in the eighth round, he stamped his authority on the fight with a stiff right-hand forcing the visitor to turn his back and take an eight count. McDonnell closed in for the stoppage but Malinga, who has gone the 12-round distance eight times prior to Saturday, resisted the attacks and heard the final bell once more, where McDonnell was announced as the victor on the judges’ scorecards 116-111, 116-111 and 115-112.
“I can’t believe it, it was a hard week mentally in stepping up for the fight, I am over the moon with the win,” said McDonnell. “I just wanted to prove that I belong at this level, I am not taking anything away from Josh Wale but I let myself down in that fight, today was about stepping up, we picked Vusi because we believed we could beat him, it was the hardest fight of my life.
“I didn’t think I would get him out of there and even when he went down I knew he would come back. I landed plenty of stiff shots and he took them, he’s very tough. I stopped looking at twitter a few days before the fight because people were saying that Vusi was going to be too good for me, too strong, too much experience at the top level. I blocked all that out and concentrated on the task in hand. I’ve had 14 fights, won a few titles and been in four twelve-rounders, so I am progressing well.”