Last night at Belfast's historic King's Hall, light welter Paul McCloskey retained his European title in a difficult contest against experienced Italian operator Giuseppe Lauri.
Making the first defense of the European crown won against Spanish champ Daniel Rasilla last November, southpaw McCloskey struck paydirt early when Lauri was canvassed in the second frame.
But the former European Union and Italian titlist beat the count and proceeded to drag the Irishman into a slugfest that suited the shorter visitor.
The more experienced challenger had no problems hitting McCloskey, who threw his boxing skills out the window in an attempt to produce another knockdown. In the tenth, McCloskey lost a point for use of the head and with that the bout was far closer going into the championship rounds than had been expected.
Sensing perhaps that he needed a KO to ensure a win, McCloskey threw a bulls-eye right hook that ended the bout at 0:45 of the 11th frame as Lauri did not beat the count this time.
With the win, McCloskey gained important experience while retaining his Continental crown for the first time, improving to 21-0 (11).
Lauri drops to 50-7 (29), losing the third European title challenge of his 13 year career.
The undercard saw former British champion Kevin McIntyre, 28-7 (9), pick up his biggest win in over two years as the southpaw outpointed ex-Irish titlist Stephen Haughian, 18-2-1 (8), for the vacant Celtic welter strap.
Undefeated former European Union lightweight boss Andy Murray, 20-0 (11), stayed busy with a second round stoppage of durable Jon Baguley, 9-19-1 (5),
and ex-WBA light welter champ Gavin Rees, 33-1 (15), won his sixth straight contest by stopping former Commonwealth lightweight challenger Sam Amoako, 6-2 (2), in the third.
Highly touted Belfast super bantamweight prospect Carl Frampton, 6-0 (3), produced a 60-55 points verdict against Ian Bailey, 5-5 (0), after six rounds.
Boxing News Tags: Andy Murray, Boxing, Carl Frampton, Daniel Rasilla, European Union, Gavin Rees, Giuseppe Lauri, Ian Bailey, Jon Baguley, Kevin McIntyre, King Hall, KO, Paul McCloskey, Result, Stephen Haughian, WBA