Liam Smith stopped Liam Williams in the ninth round of a scheduled 12 in an all-British junior middleweight bloodbath which took place in Manchester, England, on Saturday.
Smith, a former WBO junior middleweight titleholder, who is rated No. 8 by THE RING at 154 pounds, endured a torrid time in the early sessions. A severe cut, which opened around his right eye in the third, was an immediate handicap and the corner struggled to stem the flow of blood as the injury worsened.
The bout was competitive but Williams appeared sharper and more accurate with his combination punching. Another cut around Smith’s right eye prompted the doctor to have a look at the Englishman in the seventh and the clock was ticking.
Smith sensed urgency and began to take chances. He was rewarded for the gamble as Williams, who hails from Wales, appeared to be fading.
Suddenly in the ninth, blood appeared on Williams face and then a head clash worsened a horrible cut to his right eyelid. In the corner between rounds, Williams’ trainer Gary Lockett protested to referee Terry O’Connor that the injury came solely from a head clash.
Slow motion replays were inconclusive and the bout was stopped amid controversial circumstances. Talk of a rematch came up during the post-fight interview.
On the undercard:
Junior welterweight contender Jack Catterall impressively stopped former British lightweight champion Martin Gethin in three rounds. Catterall (18-0, 10 KOs), who holds a fringe WBO title and is rated No. 7 by THE RING, showed why he is so highly thought of by many.
The 23-year-old southpaw easily had his way with Gethin (28-9-1, 12 KOs), dropping him with a well placed bodyshot in the second round and finished matters with two more knockdowns in the third prompting Phil Edwards to call off the fight at 1:40 of the round.
Heavyweight hopeful Daniel Dubois successfully made the transition to the pros stopping Marcus Kelly in 0:35 of his debut. Kelly (1-1) came out swinging but Dubois easily evaded the crude shots and landed a flurry that deposited Kelly to the canvas. To his credit he rose gamely but Lee Innes called a halt to proceedings.
Hugely popular two-time Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams also enjoyed a successful pro debut, outpointing Virginia Noemi Carcano by the single score of 40-36 on referee Steve Gray’s card. Adams is already scheduled to return on May 13.
Jimmy Kelly (21-1, 8 KOs) continued to rebuild from his lone defeat with his fifth consecutive win since losing to Liam Smith by winning a 10-round decision over Rick Godding (22-2-1, 3 KOs). Referee Marcus McDonnell was the sole judge and voted narrowly for Kelly 96-95.
World-rated bantamweight Paul Butler (24-1, 13 KOs) stayed active with a four-round stoppage win against Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz (21-10, 10 KOs) was stopped at 2:14 of the fourth.
Highly regarded junior lightweight Zelfa Barrett (16-0, 10 KOs) continued his upward trajectory with a sixth-round stoppage over journeyman Ross Jameson (2-9). The game Jameson looked on course to see the final bell before Barrett forced the stoppage at 2:31 of the final round.
Super middleweight prospect Mark Heffron (15-0, 13 KOs) easily stopped Achilles Szabo (19-16, 8 KOs) in the second frame. Heffron who hails from nearby Oldham, appears ready for a step up in class.
Cruiserweight banger Jordan Thompson (6-0, 5 KOs) stopped the usually durable Jevgenijs Andrejevs (10-81-3, 4 KOs) at 0:14 of the second round.
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
Undercard report was penned by Anson Wainwright.
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