Terry Flanagan becomes champ when Jose Zepeda disclocates shoulder
MANCHESTER, England — Jose Zepeda brought a fearsome reputation to U.K. shores but got little chance to live up to it after dislocating his shoulder in the second round of a WBO lightweight title bout against Terry Flanagan.
The American was retired by his corner as the bell rang for Round 3 and the home crowd exploded in delight despite the unsatisfactory ending.
Flanagan, who becomes the first-ever English world titleholder at 135 pounds, was boxing well in this battle of unbeaten left-handers but the contest was barely warming up when the pair clashed arms in Round 2. Zepeda got the worst of it and was stretchered from the ring in obvious agony. There were whispers that the bout would be declared a no-contest but the official announcement confirmed the victor.
“I would like to thank my team for all the work they’ve put in” said Flanagan (28-0, 11 knockouts). “I thought he hurt his shoulder and I would like a rematch.”
Flanagan, known as “Turbo”, has been largely ignored in recent years while more popular domestic lightweights such as Ricky Burns, Kevin Mitchell and Derry Matthews received the fanfare. That trio, along with Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell and Tommy Coyle, will now have crosshairs locked on Flanagan.
Zepeda (23-1, 20 KOs) made his bones as a junior welterweight and there was concern that the move to 135 pounds could be to his detriment. The jury is still out on whether that is the case. Flanagan weighed in at 135 pounds with Zepeda a half pound less.
Also on the card, former IBF bantamweight titleholder Paul Butler (18-1, 9 KOs) returned to action against Mexican Gustavo Molina and was the beneficiary of an early, albeit academic fifth-round-stoppage. After counterpunching off the ropes for a long spell, Butler opened up with a two-fisted barrage and referee Howard Foster halted the action while the visitor still appeared keen to engage.
There was only going to be one winner but, considering the ambition he’d shown, Molina had earned the right to go out on his shield. This was Butler’s first outing since suffering his first defeat, an eighth-round-stoppage at the hands of IBF junior bantamweight titleholder Zolani Tete in March.
Unbeaten British lightweight Liam Walsh (18-0, 12 KOs) went through the motions against Isaias Santos Sampaio, ending matters in Round 6 with a solid left hook to the midsection. The Brazilian proved an elusive target for the first four sessions but, when Walsh switched to the southpaw stance, his connection rate improved immediately. Sampaio was given a count after being bundled to the canvas early in the sixth but the finishing blows were clinical.
Fast-rising junior welterweight Jack Catterall (12-0, 8 KOs) got little chance to shine against Gabriel Calfin in a messy affair that ended in Round 6. The action failed to gel from the start and both southpaws were deducted two points apiece for holding and wrestling. The penalties seemed severe but Catterall’s finishing burst removed the judges from the equation.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing