Fans, almost all of them passionately and very loudly supporting local hero Kerman Lejarraga, witnessed an intense and bloody slugfest in Bilbao last night, as British fighter James Metcalf stunned Spanish warrior Lejarraga by ten round decision. The atmosphere was something to behold, as was the intensity of the action. In short, both 154 pounders gave their all in an attempt to win.
In the end, after 10 bruising sessions, the three judges awarded the fight to Liverpool’s Metcalf, this by scores of 97-94, 96-95 and 96-94. Metcalf, who once served as Lejarraga’s sparring partner, improves to 23-2(14) in picking up the biggest win of his career. Lejaragga, who has a history of defeating British fighters, fell short last night and he is now 33-3(26).
After some of the, shall we say, odd scoring we have seen just lately (see, for one shining example of all that’s wrong with the sport, the recent atrocious score-cards handed in at the end of ten heavyweight rounds of boxing that took place in Paris, France), Metcalf and his team had to be worried the fight would be taken away from them. But, after what must have been an agonising wait for the reading of the cards, justice was done.
Metcalf, coming out with a high and respectful guard, used his jab to fine effect and he fought a disciplined fight. Lejarraga also jabbed well and he too showed his opponent plenty of respect. Soon both men were marked up around the left eye, with the damage becoming more visible on both fighters as the rounds wore on. There was a good deal of blood shed in last night’s fight.
Metcalf appeared to score a knockdown in round three, when a chopping right hand caught Lejarraga on the top of his head and down he went, his legs betraying him. The ref ruled it a slip and for a short while it looked like we might see some home cooking officiating take place. Thankfully this was not the case. Instead, two fighters fought their hearts out in what proved to be a good, old fashioned slugfest.
There were plenty of exchanges and the crowd loved the action. Both men were gracious after the decision was read out, with the two embracing. A return fight between these two would not be a bad idea at all.