by Andrew Harrison live from the Echo Arena, Liverpool. Paul Smith took local derby honours in Liverpool this evening along with the British super middleweight title, after a tough split decision victory over Tony Quigley.
It was a popular verdict with the fans in attendance who gave Smith a rousing reception as he made his way to the ring. Champion Quigley meanwhile, despite entering to a rendition of Liverpool FC’s renowned terrace anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, found himself less well received amidst a buoyant crowd..
The pair were tentative from the off and as Quigley advanced, he found himself on the end of several hard and accurate jabs from Smith.
Smith, looking to box on the back foot, tried to get off with his straight right in the second as the champion gradually found his rhythm. Steadily closing in on his man, Quigley was able to corner Smith in the third, pawing at him with his jab before moving inside and roughing him up along the ropes.
Quigley’s switch hitting style looked to be giving the challenger all manner of problems in the fourth, a round which Tony managed to edge with his work rate despite shipping a decent looking right hander himself.
Smith rebounded strongly in the fifth, landing wicked looking rights and a sharp left hook which seemed to stun his opponent momentarily. Round six was a far quieter affair however with both men looking to take a breather, although Smith’s success with his right hand continued.
The seventh was another good one for Smith and he opened by doubling up his jab and unleashing a right which backed Quigley into a corner. The champion looked to be tiring and caught a sweet right uppercut flush on the jaw yet managed to hold it well and was answering back at the bell.
As tiredness crept in, both men’s work unravelled and became ragged however it was Smith who edged the eighth session with handy looking left hooks. Quigley appeared to have found his second wind in the ninth, beginning the round by holding Smith often in order to smother his work before bulling him to the ropes and getting off with quick, snappy shots to carry the round.
Smith looked desperately tired as the tenth got underway and as the champion forced the action, a cut around Smith’s eye (which appeared to have been caused earlier in the bout by a clash of heads) became more of an issue, blood now teeming down his face. Time and again Smith would wind up his right, before throwing it like a pitcher throws a fast ball, only to see it sail harmlessly over the champion’s head.
Round eleven was the best of the fight as they finally lit the blue touch paper, both men upping the tempo notably and swinging for the fences in a bid to settle superiority. Smith was really sitting down on his shots now, digging to the body with hefty looking hooks and as Tony responded it descended into a brawl. The action stopped momentarily after Quigley caught a low blow however they quickly tore back into each other right up to the bell.
Smith appeared to nick the last to have his hand raised with scores of 116-113, 116-112 and 114-116 and now moves to 28-1 (15) whilst Quigley drops to 13-2 (6). As they made their way back to the dressing rooms, both men embraced again with old scores and grudges seemingly settled for the time being.
Former amateur stars James DeGale and Frankie Gavin both managed to impress on the undercard. Olympic middleweight champion DeGale looked classy in his win over Penrith’s Ally Morrison, stopping the unbeaten fighter in three and in doing so, extended his unbeaten record to 4-0 (3).
Gavin meanwhile, looked every inch a future star and despite stepping up his level of competition considerably against Steve Saville, he managed to get his man out of there at 2:32 of the second, taking his ledger to four bouts unbeaten, all quick.