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Walsall scrapper Steve Saville came a cropper as he fought for a British light-welterweight title at Wolverhampton Civic Hall – but there was a victory for women’s champion Lindsey Scragg.  Dave Woodhall reports from ringside.

Steve Saville’s hopes of fighting for a British title look unlikely after his surprise defeat at the hands of Youssef Al Hamadi at a crowded an noisy Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Friday evening. The Walsall fighter was outpointed by the Syrian-born Yorkshireman, who won the vancat British Masters light-welterweight title over ten rounds of frantic if often unscientific action.

Saville, fighting in front of a passionate local support, looked the busier early on, although neither fighter was able to get into any sort of rhythm. There was plenty of holding and the occasional bumping of heads, with Saville moving forward and Al Hamadi countering.

Al Hamadi found himself wrestled to the ground twice in round three then visited the canvas by more legitimate means in the following round, the damage being done by a left to the head followed by a right cross. Saville was well on top at this point but failed to press home his advantage although the fifth round saw Al Hamadi troubled by Saville’s jab and warned for holding.

Al Hamadi was deducted a point for use of the head in round sixe, the hold-up while the punishment was administered seeming to annoy Saville more than it inhibited his opponent. Round seven saw Al Hamadi staggered by a solid left, although a late rally from the Yorkshireman left Saville with a badly swelling eye.

This damage was to have a significant effect on the rest of the contest. Round eight saw both men adopting a cagier style and although Saville seemed the busier, the eye was visibly worse by the bell. The final two rounds saw Saville yet again moving forward and Al Hamadi using the ring moer efficiently.

Saville began showboating in the final minute of the fight, which may have persuaded the judge to award the round, and consequently the fight, to Al Hamadi.

The verdict was unexpected by the crowd but they seemed to take their man’s defeat in a sporting manner. The referee scored the contest 96-95 to Al Hamadi, which seemed a fortunate verdict bearing in mind the 10-8 fourth round and the point deduction. But ringsider commentators’ verdicts were mixed, so the referee probably got it right.

Saville now drops to 19-6 and with defeats in his last two fights may be considering his future as he turns 33 in ten days time. Al Hamidi is now 6-20-1, and whatever the rest of his career holds he can always say that for one night he was a champion.

Chief support saw Lyndsey Scragg returning to the ring for the first time since winning the GBF female super-featherweight crown when she faces Angel McKenzie in an eight round non-title fight. McKenzie is better known for her time as a Big Brother contestant than her boxing ability and although obviously limited she made Scragg look poor. The Wolverhampton fighter, her height disadvantage exaggerated by fighting out of a crouch for much of the contest, was nowhere near as good as she had been on the night she claimed the world title although the verdict was never in any doubt.

A scoreline of 79-75 saw Scragg move to a record of 10-1 while McKenzie, trained by her adoptive father the former British light-welterweight champion Clinton, drops to 3-16.

The opening bout of the night was a 6x2 round light-middleweight fight between Myles Holder of Wolverhampton and Swansea’s Chris Brophy. Holder was on top throughout to claim a 60-55 verdict and boasts a 100% record in his three pro fights. Brphy is now 3-35-2.

Quickest victory of the night went to Ombersley’s Alex Strutt, who wasted no time in his first outing for 10 months. Up against Scunthope’s Davey Jones in a 6x2 round contest at middleweight , Sprott came out fired up from the first bell, and although he was soon warned for punching low, sent over a left-right combination that dropped Jones to the canvas.

Jones seemed to have made a full recovery but was sent crashing to the floor once more and the fight was called off a second before the end of the first round, the Scunthorpe man later receiving six stitches to his left eye. Strutt now boasts a 23-0-1 record while Jones is 9-21-2.

The night’s best performance belonged to Wolverhampton fighter Ben Wilkes, who seems to lose weight every time he fights. Now an impressive-looking 10 st lb, Wilkes outpointed the Nottingham veteran Matt Scriven over four rounds at middleweight, taking every round in a dazzling display of ringcraft. This was easily Wilkes’ most impressive performance to date and he now has four wins out of four. Scriven, meanwhile, is now 13-55.

Birmingham middleweight Chris Truman made it two out of two with a win over Craig Dyer of Swansea. Truman won all four rounds of what was at times a rough old contest, particularly in the third when Dyer was warned on a couple of occasions and wrestled to the floor. This was Dyer’s 13th defeat from 13 fights. 


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