CARDIFF – Lee Selby made a triumphant return to Wales, stopping former world title challenger Rendall Munroe midway through the sixth round to win the vacant European featherweight crown, while also defending his British title in front of a raucous home crowd.
The 26-year-old Welshman, who last time out won the Lonsdale belt outright, started on the outside using movement to pick off his more experience opponent. To his credit Munroe pressed Selby but was unable to land anything significant. Selby mixed in head and body shots to sweep the early rounds.
Just as it looked as though Munroe was in for the long haul, Selby hurt him and was able to follow the veteran to a neutral corner, where he unloaded combination after combination. Munroe initially covered up well, however Selby kept throwing and found more success in a 30 second barrage until referee Ian John-Lewis intervened, calling a halt to proceedings at 1:31 of the sixth round.
It could be argued the stoppage was a little early, though Munroe (27-4-1, 11 knockouts) wasn’t throwing any shots of his own.
The win allowed Selby (18-1, 7 KOs) to continue his meteoric rise, since turning pro in 2008 he has won Welsh, Celtic, British, Commonwealth and now European titles. It’s still early to be talking about Selby as a future world champion but he will certainly have his eye on adding to Wales’s tally of 11 world champions.
While Lee Selby was fighter of the night, fight of the night was undoubtedly the British lightweight eliminator tussle between Gavin Rees and Gary Buckland for local bragging rights.
From first bell until the last, both fighters traded on near even terms, no quarter asked, none given. Both combatants met at centre ring and gave their all for 12 pulsating rounds in what will surely be one of the best fights domestically in 2014.
A clash of heads in the opening round caused Buckland to bleed from the left eye. Early on Rees appeared to have more gears to go through but to his immense credit Buckland wouldn’t be denied, pushing forward letting his hands go, willing himself into the fight, causing “The Rock” to back off showing signs of fatigue.
By the middle rounds Rees, who previously held the WBA junior welterweight title and more recently the European and Commonwealth lightweight championships looking worse for wear, marked up around the face, cut and swelling around his right eye.
The action slowly slightly before building to a crescendo, both met at ring centre to begin the final round where they warmly embraced before going back to war.
At the conclusion of the fight both fighters were warmly cheered by their fans who knew they’d witnessed something special.
It was almost impossible to split the two, Ian John Lewis favoured Rees 116-113 but was overruled by John Keane 116-113 and Terry O’Connor 115-114 who both opted for Buckland.
Afterwards both were asked if they’d like a rematch, Buckland 28-3(9) replied he’d be happy to but Rees 37-4-1(18) who said coming in that if he lost he’d retire was non committal adding he’d have to mull over his future.
Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Anthony Joshua continued his rapid progression in the pros taking out former Welsh ABA champion Dorian Darch in two rounds. Joshua, who weighed in a trim 240 pounds, connected with a heavy left hook from which Darch’s legs dipped sending him into the ropes across the ring, prompting Terry O’Connor to call the fight off with Darch in no position to continue.
The future looks bright for the 24-year-old Londoner who next sees action on March 1 underneath the WBO lightweight bout between beltholder Ricky Burns and undefeated challenger Terrence Crawford.
Last year Chris Jenkins sprang to prominence winning the “Prizefighter” tournament, he was able to further his education winning the WBC International strap by outpointing former French champion Christopher Sebire by scored of 100-90 (twice) amd 100-91.
With the wins Jenkins advances to 13-0(5) while Sebire drops to 22-7(8)
Former European lightweight champion Jason Cook rolled back the years to stop Tony Pace (4-7-1) at 1:29 of the fourth round. The win gave Cook (30-5-1, 16 KOs) the Celtic welterweight title in what he said would be his final fight.
Welsh Middleweight Kerry Hope (20-6, 1 KO) stayed active with a competitive six round decision win over Paul Moffett (3-1-1, 2 KOs) by the referee’s score card 59-58.
Former Prizefighter finalist Dale Evans scored the biggest win of his professional career out scoring Erick Ochieng 77-76 after taking the early initiative Evans was pushed back over the second half of the bout to eke out the victory.
At light heavyweight Tobias Webb (14-1-1, 2 KOs) overcame a first round trip to the canvas to narrowly outpoint Nathan King (13-21, 1 KO) by the lone score of 58-56.
Tamuka Mucha advanced to 7-0 (1) winning all six rounds against Leon Findlay (5-5, 2 KOs) in welterweight action.
“Reloaded” was well attended with nearly all 4,500 tickets sold. It was mentioned at Thursday’s press conference by Eddie Hearn that Matchroom are looking to comeback to Wales for a show in May, though no exact details of the date were given.
In attendance were five of the former Welsh world champions, Joe Calzaghe, who also worked for SKY Sports, Nathan Cleverly, Enzo Maccarinelli, who will reportedly take on WBA light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer on April 5. Also watching was Steve Robinson, while the fifth fighter, Gavin Rees, also appeared on the bill.