Lee, who was having his second attempt at this British Bantam strap, delivered a typically swaggering performance in front of a vocal hometown crowd. Boxing with his right low and in the southpaw stance, he had Ward troubled as early as the first as he cracked his man with spiteful looping right-left combinations.
Ward was lucky not to have a knockdown counted against him early in the second as he seemed to have only been kept up by the ropes after taking a leaping, springing combination from the ever-coiled west-country warrior.
Martin, who had only one prior loss on his ledger going in, fought with his hands too low and Haskins had turned his face into a bloody mess by the end of the round. Ward looked shell-shocked going back to his gob-smacked corner.
To Ward’s credit, he kept himself together in the third. Lee was over eager in looking for the finish and loading up for every punch. Martin managed to come forward and score with clever jabs and straight rights. The visitor consolidated his mini-resurgence in the four in taking advantage of Lee’s leaky defence and tendency to miss with big shots.
The end came in the fifth. Lee, who just seconds before seemed to be looking out into the crowd, caught Ward with a big left and then blitzed his man to the ropes with a double-handed furious attack. Ward seemed to have his gloves up but some were getting through. Romford’s Mark Green stopped the fight when Martin’s sense of direction deserted him. He was disorientated and facing towards the neutral corner as punches rained in.
Evergreen Dean “Star” Francis (34-4-1) kept busy in having his third fight in five months in chief support to the Haskins-Ward headliner. He outscored Arturs Kaulikauskis (9-16-3) from Latvia via 59-56 point decision on referee Grant Wallis’ card.
The Latvian was not your run-of-the-mill super-defensive journeyman type. He arrived with some evidence of ambition throughout his career. He beat former British cruiser king Leon Williams in November last year and also pushed former WBA super-middle king Dimitri Saertison to an eight-round majority decision in November 2011.
The Lativan moved well from the torso and had an awkward style throughout. Dean for the most part was cautious and picked his shots in a cagy safety-first mode. He used his experience and piled up the points well. Towards the end of the contest, he stated to throw some of the trade mark combinations of his heyday. The speed and technique were there but the edge of his former explosive power seems not to have carried up in weight in my opinion.
Francis now moves on to an eliminator against Courtney Fry for the right to challenge Bellew for his British title – should he not vacate it.
Arvydas Trizno (16-25-2) marched from the ring furious last night after being stopped at 2:50 of the sixth and last round by former ABA champion Tamuka Mucha (5-0) in a light-middleweight affair.
The Harare-born hot-shot Mucha had hit him with everything he had for the previous seventeen-and-a-half minutes of boxing and he had spat defiance and fought proudly. The unbeaten Mucha was having his fifth pro start and put his punches together well against the well-travelled Lithuanian who has fought in France, Italy, Canada and the Ukraine.
It was a one-sided fight and Trizno was almost certainly going to be shut out on points. When he was finally over-whelmed and took a knee with ten seconds to spare he got up and was clearly fine to continue.
To the eastern European’s dismay, the contest was waved off. Trizno did some leaps and stretches to show he was in control of his legs fully and seemed broken-hearted not to see the course. The result provides a good yardstick for Mucha, who stopped a man that went the distance with Junior Witter and George Michael Carman.
31-year-old win-some lose-some Michael Ramabeletsa (9-10) scored a shut out decision over Aivaras Balsys (1-5) in a featherweight six-twos. The Bristol-based South-African was body hunting over the first two rounds as his Latvian opponent winced clearly when taking shots downstairs. By the third, Aivaras had a fearful look on his face and his counters were lacking power and were mostly token in commitment.
Ramabeletsa was well on top over the second half of the contest but allowed his man to survive and see out the course.
Reading’s 24-year-old Ricky O’Brien made a statement in his debut as he blasted out local man Harvey Hemsley (1-4) after 37 seconds. It was slated for six-twos at super-feather.
After being floored in the first ten seconds, Hemsley took a succession of lefts and rights before being rescued on his feet by third man Grant Wallis.
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