Friday night saw the re-emergence of Howard "The Battersea Bomber" Eastman as a major player in the middleweight division, as the previous king of Europe showed he's still dominant at domestic level, with a twelfth round knockout of friend Richard "The Secret" Williams on a Matchroom promotion at York Hall, Bethnal Green, London.
At the weigh-in on Thursday, Eastman had scaled eleven stone six (160 lb) and while Williams' tipped the beam at eleven stone five and a quarter (159 1/4) lb), it was clear that former triple champion was the much larger man with a three-inch height advantage.
The first round saw Williams trying to work of the jab, but the crafty Eastman was able to push his opponent back, successfully slowing his rival down with effective counterpunching.
The second, third and fourth rounds were arguably Williams' best, hitting Eastman flush with at least two or three shots per round, and forcing the "Battersea Bomber" to fight on the back foot. The positive for Eastman during these rounds was that despite being hit flush, it was clear his iron chin was still intact, and at no point did he look hurt.
It appeared that Eastman was the stronger man and when he pushed, he was able to force Williams onto the back foot, however his defensive performance could no doubt be seen as a lazy one by the average boxing fan.
The fifth and sixth rounds were debatably not much better for Eastman, who finally shaved his white beard off for the fight. He appeared to be to defensive, but when he did counterpunch, he did it effectively, and for some part of the sixth, Williams was almost running into the punches.
At the halfway stage of the bout, it appeared that Williams was most certainly in the fight, if not winning it. However, this was perhaps the last time that "The Secret" dominated the fight and the crowd favorite, despite still chasing his opponent around the ring, was getting caught more often and looking almost in a daze at times.
After the eighth frame, it appeared that the tide had changed for good and the strength of Eastman was perhaps taking a toll on his friend of 20 years. "The Secret" came out for the ninth with a look of sorrow for himself, as if to say he had done his best and through the later rounds, it appeared this was true. Williams was still moving forward, but hitting the man who beat him in the amateurs less and less progressively, and had to fall back onto the ropes a few times.
The bell for the twelfth and final round rang and the two fighters hugged before getting back down to business. Williams threw with all that as left in his tank, managing to hit Howard cleanly a number of times, but it was clear that he was spent.
The final moment of the contest came with a beautiful counter straight right off the ropes from Eastman, a punch that caused Williams, 21-4-1 (17), to look as if he had been shot. The ex-IBO Light Middleweight Champion sunk to the floor and was unable to beat the count.
Howard Eastman, 41-4 (35), once again has regained the British title belt, which he had previously used to catapult himself into huge fights, and will be hoping now for a similar turn of events.
It appears that the Battersea man may have done just enough to give himself enough time for a third time lucky crack at the world middleweight crown, however as to whether he is up to the challenge of winning it remains to be seen.
Also on the card:
Hungarian light middle Jozsef "Shatter Machine" Matolcsi, 24-9 (16), lost a point for head butting in the ninth round but still widely outscored German based Turk, Turgay Uzun, 22-9-2 (14), 119-110, 118-111 and 117-112 over twelve rounds to retain the WBF title.
At welter, Marcus Portman, 16-5-1 (2), towered over George Hillyard, 5-3 (4), using his height and reach to post a points win over eight rounds.
In a battle of southpaws, ex-IBO Light Middle Champ Steve Conway, 34-8 (6), dropped his second straight bout, losing to WBC/IBF Youth Middleweight titlist Grzegorz Proksa, 9-0 (5), of Hungary, in a shocker.
Former IBO Light Welter beltholder Colin Lynes, 27-3 (10), stopped yet another Hungarian, Janos Petrovics, 9-4 (6), in the sixth and final round.
English Super Bantam boss Marc P. Callaghan, 19-10-1 (3), outpointed Polish journeyman Dariusz Snarski, 18-25-1 (4), over four rounds.
Light middle southpaw Michael Lomax, 10-0 (2), remained undefeated by posting a six round decision over iron chinned veteran Billy Smith, 8-45 (0).
Middleweight Scott Jordan, 3-0 (0), bested Greg Barton, 1-2 (1), over four frames.
Boxing Photos by David Oakley Photography.co.uk