Gary Mushrow, ringside.
Former IBF bantamweight world champion Paul Butler improved his record to (21-1, 12KOs) with a thunderous ninth round stoppage victory over Sebastian Sanchez (12-2, 9KOs) to pick up the vacant WBO international super flyweight title.
Butler, returning to the ring after a stoppage victory over Silvio Olteanu in December, looked sharp and focused throughout, beating Sanchez consistently to the punch and looking pretty relaxed whilst doing so.
At times it looked all too easy for the man from Ellesmere Port, a points win would have been acceptable against a tough Mexican opponent, but the stoppage made the victory emphatic. A huge shot to the body put Sanchez down for the full ten count to the delight of fans in the Arena.
With the win and acquisition of the WBO fringe title, Butler will now take aim at WBO super flyweight king, Naoya Inoue or in-house rival Jamie Conlan.
Birmingham’s Tommy Langford (16-0, 5KOs) won a unanimous points decision after going to war with fellow Commonwealth title challenger Lewis Taylor (18-2, 3KOs) for twelve pulsating rounds; the WBO intercontinental middleweight title was also up-for-grabs for both men.
The contest itself could have taken place in a phone booth as neither man wished to give up a backwards step. Both were hurt on multiple occasions throughout the contest and it wouldn’t be too far as to imagine a rematch between the two in the very near future.
Taylor looked to have faded during rounds five to eight, as Langford laid on a vicious assault to the body, however as the fight entered the championship rounds, the Derbyshire man seemed to have a second wind and took the fight back to Langford as the pair slugged it out at close quarters.
At the final bell, after a close affair, the more concise clear-cut work had come from Langford early and ultimately he was a deserved recipient of a unanimous decision points victory, with scores of 118-110, 118-111 and 118-111 tabled by judges ringside.
Zolani Tete (23-3, 19KOs) picked up the vacant IBF international bantamweight title, with a seventh round technical knock out over Jose Santos Gonzalez (22-4, 12KOs). Gonzalez realised early he may have been a little out of his depth, when floored with a stinging shot in just the second round. The Mexican was game and beat the count and continued to press his South African opponent throughout the next five rounds; unfortunately his efforts were always in vein.
Tete, a classy operator and former IBF super flyweight world champion, dominated throughout the seven rounds, failing to give his opponent a foothold to gain any traction. Operating out of his southpaw stance, Tete softened Gonzalez up to the body early, ensuring his opposite number was punished for any lapses in concentration. Unfortunately for Gonzalez – there were many.
When the stoppage came it was a short uppercut which did the damage; Tete spun out of the corner and caught the onrushing Gonzalez with the shot reducing him to his knees. Referee Steve Gray allowed the contest to continue and Tete moved in for the kill, forcing the referee to intervene just seconds later.
With the international title, Tete now moves into the IBF rankings at 118lbs, inline for a possible crack at Bristol’s Lee Haskins.
Reigning European bantamweight champion Ryan Farrag (15-1, 4KOs) stopped Bulgarian journeyman Stefan Slavchev (7-20-1, 4KOs) in the second round of a scheduled eight round contest. Farrag bossed the fight from start to finish, stalking his opponent around the ring, landing fast powerful blows which consistently put his visiting foe on the back foot. Slavchev didn’t have enough firepower to keep the fired up Farrag off him and a wicked hook to the body put an end to his nights work as the referee issued a ten count at 2:12 of the second round.
Leon Woodstock (6-0, 3KOs) hit and danced his way to a 40-36 shut out victory against lightly regarded Ibrar Riyaz (4-93-4, 2KOs). In what was never going to be his toughest assignment, Woodstock had his way with Riyaz for every second of the four round contest; slamming his limited opponent with counter punches; it wasn’t long before Riyaz found his face a bloody and swollen mess.
Indian boxing sensation Vijender Singh (4-0, 4KOs), continued his knockout streak as a professional with a third round stoppage victory over Alexander Horvath (5-2-1, 1KO). After dominating and hurting his opponent in each of the previous two rounds, Singh finally stepped on the pedal and put his man to the sword, causing the referee to call a halt to the contest after 63 seconds of the third round.
In the opening bout of the evening, Zelfa Barrett moved to (9-0, 3KOs) with a shut out points victory against Damian Lawniczak (2-13-1, 0KOs). The journeyman opponent had very few sparkles of success throughout the six round contest, with the quality of Barrett shining through each time to end the round. A 60-54 scorecard will do the young prospect no harm, as he looks to fight again in two months time in Bolton.