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Billy Joe bags Brit belt for keeps as Chisora crowned Euro king at the Copper Box

Billy Joe Saunders (left) and John Ryder in action during the BBBofC British middleweight title and Commonwealth title bout at the Copper Box Arena, London. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire Billy Joe Saunders (left) and John Ryder in action during the BBBofC British middleweight title and Commonwealth title bout at the Copper Box Arena, London. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Sunday, September 22, 2013
7:15 AM

Billy Joe Saunders won the British Lonsdale belt outright when he outpointed granite-chinned John Ryder in the maiden boxing show at the Copper Box Arena last night.

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The 24-year-old middleweight also retained his Commonwealth title in a brusing but exhilerating headline fight that saw the unbeaten run of his Islington rival come to an end.

The southpaw versus southpaw clash had all the hallmarks of a classic in the early rounds as Ryder began by ramming a series of stiff jabs into Saunders’ chin to let the champ know he was not overawed.

It saw Saunders happily trade blows at close range, but he got sucked into Ryder’s gameplan to keep the fight at close quarters and fell victim to a series of spiteful blows.

Ryder’s successes continued into the fourth session as the 25-year-old marched Saunders onto the ropes for some more punishment. But with the champion still mustering replies the frenzy inside the Olympic venue steeped.

Ryder then took his foot off the gas in the fifth and that allowed Saunders to step back and pick his shots, free from the relentless bullying of the Londoner.

Soon the champion was flitting in and out with two-punch combinations that, while never promising to cut short the contest, left his opponent using up vital energy in chasing him around the edges of the ring.

By the ninth round - one more than Ryder had previously experienced - Saunders was in complete control and the hope of a new British middleweight fight classic had mellowed considerably - though that did not to dampen the ferver of the fans.

Undoubtedly, Saunders is a man possessing the greater boxing skill, but Ryder is as tough as old boots dipped in concrete and refused to tail off as a flurry of punches connected in the penultimate round.

And he roused himself once more in the final stanza, swinging away and hoping to send Saunders crashing to the canvas.

But a worthy champion knows how to see out tough opponents and he did enough to stymie the attacks until the relief of the final bell sounded.

Understandably, both men raised their gloves in celebration but as hard as he made Saunders work, he didn’t provide the complete performance usually needed to rip belts from their custodians.

That’s how the judges saw it and a unanimous 115-113 (twice) and 115-114 decision on the scorecards saw the guardian of the Lonsdale belt become the keeper.

Earlier in the night, Finchley heavyweight Dereck Chisora had provided the first knockout of the bill as he used Edmund Gerber as a punching bag before the referee stepped in during the fifth round. The victory saw him claim the vacant European heavyweight strap and moved him one step closer to a world title showdown with a Klitschko brother.

Popular unbeaten Enfield super middlewight Frank Buglioni made short work of Broislav Kubin, adding a seventh knockout in 10 bouts, by clipping the Czech on the temple with a big right that laid him flat on his back.

Hackney’s well-supported George Kean earned a professional debut victory, though it should have been a stoppage win, as he bumped and bashed a hapless Rick Boulter around the ring and sent him to the mat in the fourth and final round, only for the referee to allow the beating to continue until the bell.

Frankie Gavin also outclassed David Barnes to retain his British and Commonwealth welterweight titles with a unanimous decision, while in two other vacant championship match-ups, Liam Walsh beat Joe Murray to add the vacant IBF international super featherweight strap to his Commonwealth title and Paul Butler won the WBO intercontinental super flyweight belt.

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