London results: Eubank Jr. and Bellew impress, Mitchell stopped
British showman Chris Eubank Jr. forced a seventh-round corner retirement over archrival Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in a 12-round middleweight attraction in London, England, on Saturday and will now seek to claim a world title in 2016.
Eubank Jr., rated No. 9 by THE RING at 160 pounds, unloaded ferocious offensive bursts throughout the contest and although O’Sullivan absorbed them well, it began to make for uncomfortable viewing by the midway point.
“He’s got a chin,” acknowledged Eubank Jr, who improves to 21-1 (16 knockouts). “I asked him to apologize for the kiss (on the lips at the weigh-in) and he did, so we shook hands and the beef is quashed.
“I’m looking to fight anyone who has a world title.”
O’Sullivan began to take massive right uppercuts to the point of the chin in Round 2 and was ridiculously available for that punch throughout. Once the Irishman began to flounder from the severity of the punishment, Eubank Jr. also introduced a savage body attack and there was nothing coming back.
Eubank Jr. is an extremely exciting fighter and likes to put on a show. He could have made the job easier but took big risks to land a blistering array of concussive power punches. As a result, he was shaken more than once by counter blows but the result was never really in doubt.
British star Tony Bellew captured the vacant European cruiserweight championship with a 12-round unanimous decision victory over Polish dangerman Mateusz Masternak.
The official scores were 115-113 and 115-112 twice.
In what many regarded as the most 50/50 fight on tonight’s card, the action was at a good level throughout and it was hard to split the pair in terms of scoring. Bellew got off to a quick start, trading at mid-range, but he appeared to tire in the middle sessions as the visitor picked up the pace.
The best portion of the fight was the championship rounds. Sensing that the bout was too close for comfort, Bellew opened up with both hands in the 11th and his opponent struggled to keep up. The Liverpool man maintained that intensity, breaking through with a powerful right hand in the final minute of the 12th and he came close to stopping Masternak.
This was arguably the finest win of Bellew’s career and he is likely to face off against one of the cruiserweight titleholders in the first half of 2016.
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Venezuelan southpaw Ismael Barroso scored a violent fifth-round stoppage over former world title challenger Kevin Mitchell at lightweight.
The visitor scored an official knockdown in Round 4, although video evidence suggested that Mitchell merely tripped over Barroso’s lead foot. The second knockdown, however, was a thudding right jab in the fifth and that six-inch shot essentially ended the contest.
Mitchell rose gamely but Barroso (19-0-2, 18 KOs), as his knockout ratio suggests, is a noted puncher and he wasn’t about to let his opponent off the hook. A punishing two-fisted attack backed the Englishman into a corner and he continued to soak up tremendous punishment. When Mitchell eventually escaped his legs had deserted him and the referee halted the action when he went down for the third time.
Oxygen was administered to Mitchell as a precaution but he left the ring under his own steam. Barroso is now the mandatory challenger for WBA lightweight titleholder Anthony Crolla, who was in attendance.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing