Colchester boxer Lee Purdy wins British title defence

COLCHESTER boxer Lee Purdy stopped Craig Watson in the fifth round of their rematch to successfully defend his British welterweight title on Saturday night.

ESSEX boxer Lee Purdy defended his British welterweight title belt with a fifth round stoppage of challenger Craig Watson in Oldham on Saturday night.

“Lights Out” became Colchester’s first ever British boxing champion when he won the title by halting Watson in an upset victory in April.

But he proved that was no fluke by grinding down gritty Watson in front of his home town crowd at Oldham Leisure Centre.

Southpaw Watson started brightly, slipping Purdy’s jab to land hooks and counter lefts.

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But the Colchester man grew in confidence after landing two heavy shots in the third round and started to walk his foe down.

The end came in the fifth as Purdy decked Watson with a left hook to the body before referee Mark Green stopped the bout after the hometown fighter had been sent to the canvas for a second time.

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Purdy’s victory sets up a mouth-watering match-up with Commonwealth king Denton Vassell, the man who beat him in one of the domestic fights of the year in 2010.

- Meanwhile, on a huge night of British boxing in Liverpool, Kevin Mitchell claimed the lightly-regarded WBO intercontinental lightweight title with a thrilling come from behind victory over European boss John Murray.

The British pair both proclaimed this encounter to be a stepping stone to bigger things with exciting WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios on their radars.

It will be Mitchell who gets the chance to pursue that dream after overcoming a tough start to stop his opponent at the Echo Arena with a cool-headed and brutal performance.

While unbeaten Mancunian Murray had been treading water as European lightweight champion waiting for his chance on the global stage, Londoner Mitchell was on a rebuilding mission after being obliterated by Michael Katsidis in his interim WBO title bid last year.

Murray (31-0, 18KOs) and Mitchell (31-1, 23KOs), both 26, went to war from the opening bell, with the latter seeking to use his superior movement and foot speed to offset his opponent’s aggressive come-forward approach.

Murray had the upper hand before the closing moments of the seventh round, when Mitchell landed a perfect uppercut which shook the Manchester brawler to his boots.

A step-back left hook to the chin in the following round dropped Murray as he waded in and, despite him bravely fighting on, referee Richie Davies stepped in to end the fight in the eighth.

Earlier, Ricky Burns retained his WBO super-featherweight title with a bizarre first-round stoppage victory against former champion Nicky Cook while former amateur star Frankie Gavin survived a scare to retain his unbeaten record with a split decision win over former footballer Curtis Woodhouse.

In the first televised bout of the evening, Tony Bellew added the vacant British light-heavyweight title to his Commonwealth belt with a dull unanimous decision win over Ovill McKenzie.

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