Stephen Smith Wins British Featherweight Crown With Thrilling Points Victory Over John Simpson

By James Slater: Fans were treated to a thriller last night in Liverpool, as featherweight rivals Stephen Smith and John Simpson met in a rematch of their September 2010 battle. Smith, of Liverpool, won that one by way of a very close split decision; winning the Commonwealth belt. Last night, the unbeaten 25-year-old won again, this time by 12-round majority verdict, and this time “Swifty” picked up the British featherweight belt. The scores after a terrific encounter, even better than the first fight, were 118-112, 115-114 and 114-114.

Both men thought they’d won at the end, 27-year-old Simpson of Scotland going as far as to say the decision was a disgrace (no doubt referring to the too-wide 118-112 score handed in by the experienced Terry O‘Connor). After the sheer effort both men went through, it is hard not to have sympathy for the loser. Smith is now 12-0(6). Simpson is now 22-8(9). The Greenock man’s record of having never been stopped remains intact.

A blazing start saw the challenger come close to sensationally stopping the teak-tough Scot. A right hand to the head hurt Simpson and Smith really went for it, trying to get the finish. A left hand connected to Simpson’s head as Smith did his best windmill imitation, before the champion came back with some fire of his own. A great round of action and a big round for Smith.

Smith won the 2nd, as he was simply proving too quick and too sharp for the two-years older man. Simpson landed a good right hand upstairs in the 3rd, only for Smith to come back at him with both hands. There was a good burst by the challenger at the end of the round.

In the 4th through 8th-rounds Simpson’s strength and aggression took over as the Scot made it his type of battle - a battle of attrition. Smith, the better boxer, stood with Simpson for long periods and there was some great trading action as a result. Some of these rounds, as well as the final rounds, were tough to score, but one got the impression the tide had turned Simpson’s way. The 8th-round especially was a hot one for the challenger, as a big right hand staggered him into the ropes. The pressure from Simpson was truly relentless.

In the 9th-round, Smith put on some pressure of his own, as he had Simpson stuck on the ropes. Both men unloaded at the bell in this, yet another exciting three minutes. Neither guy was willing to give an inch it seemed, and though both were dead tired now - the 11th and 12th-rounds especially being of the messy, mauling variety - both warriors forced out work.

The bell came and the crowd showed its appreciation. But who would have wanted to have been a judge last night!

Smith, for me, nicked it. Simpson has the right to feel aggrieved; especially due to that off-mark 118-112 score. Will we see a third fight between these two evenly matched, all-action fighters?

Article posted on 28.04.2011

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