British Scene: Fegatilli Claims Euro Title

BOLTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Stephen Foster Jnr of England is counted down by the referee after a body blow by Ermano Fegatilli (L) of Belgium during their European Super Featherweight fight during the Night of Champions Boxing at Reebok Stadium on February 26, 2011 in Bolton, England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Dave Oakes recaps Saturday's European super-featherweight title clash between Stephen Foster Jnr and Ermano Fegatilli.

Ermano Fegatilli claimed the European super-featherweight title on Saturday night, flooring an increasingly tiring Stephen Foster Jnr five times in the final four rounds to take a unanimous decision.

Foster made a bright start, outworking a cautious looking Fegatilli and shaking the Belgian with a solid left hook late in the opening round. Fegatilli showed signs of improvement in the second and third rounds, electing to stand his ground more, surprisingly so given his pre-fight reputation as a mover.

It was evident that both boxers were looking to slow the other down with attacks to the body. Foster’s were looking the heavier blows, as was the case in the fourth when an uppercut to the solar plexus hurt Fegatilli. The referee adjudged that there was a head clash prior to the punch landing, giving Fegatilli the chance to take advantage of the situation and regain his breath.

The mid rounds were dominated by Foster, Fegatilli was still boxing more aggressively than expected but it was Foster’s more accurate work that was giving him the edge. The sixth was a particularly good round for the Salford fighter; he landed a rib crunching left hook early in the round and was notably upping the pace.

At the midway stage there only looked one winner to me, Fegatilli was having his successes but it was Foster who looked the stronger, more skilful fighter. It was, therefore, a surprise to say the least when he crumbled so abruptly in the following rounds.

It was becoming noticeable during the seventh and eighth rounds that Fegatilli’s sustained body attacks were having an effect on the champion, who was breathing heavily and showing signs of discomfort every time Fegatilli landed the left hook downstairs.

The tide of the fight swung completely in Fegatilli’s favour in the ninth, he was already winning the round when a left hook to the body dropped Foster late on. There was a delayed reaction from the punch, Foster looked to have taken it well enough but went down seconds later when he couldn’t catch his breath. He was up with the count at eight and managed to see out the remaining seconds of the round but it was the major turning point in the fight.

A fired up Fegatilli came charging out for the tenth, whilst an exhausted Foster tried desperately to get his second wind. With the Belgian repeatedly whipping in hooks to the body, Foster was becoming increasingly ragged and untidy on the inside, consequently leaving him open for more body shots.

Fegatilli sent Foster to the canvas three times in the round, the first two by way of left hooks to the body, with the third being a flurry of blows that sent an already hurt Foster sinking to the floor.

Foster was down yet again in the eleventh, a straight right doing the damage. He got to his feet again but there was a feeling that he wasn’t going to make it through the round, with his trainer, Maurice Core, watching on with the towel in his hand.

Foster managed to survive the eleventh and remarkably, and extremely bravely, he battled hard to take the final round. It was too little, too late for Foster though, and the judges scored the bout for Fegatilli (114-110 and 114-109 twice).

After the bout Foster told Sky Sports that he’d been struggling with a virus since Monday and it had had an effect. That may have been the case with the way he deteriorated so quickly late on, but that could have also been down to Fegatilli’s body shots, no-one but Foster will know for certain.

Virus or not, Foster took the fight and lost to the better man on the night. Fegatilli deserves credit for the way he went about his business, the Belgian was far more aggressive than anyone thought he’d be and showed great hunger and passion to claim the title.

Following the bout he said that he’d like to fight in Britain again, he won’t be short of options with the likes of Liam Walsh, Gary Sykes or Gary Buckland all ranked highly in Europe.

A potential barnstormer between Craig Lyon and Josh Wale was cut short in the third round. Wale had started the better but Lyon was coming on strong before an accidental head clash in the third left them both with nasty gashes.

The doctor at ringside was dithering about making a decision, forcing referee John Keane to intervene and call the fight off. A sensible decision despite the protestations of Wale and the fans who were looking forward to another seven rounds of toe to toe action. A rematch is a must.

Former world champion Robin Reid made his comeback in a four rounder against tough but limited journeyman Jamie Ambler. It was Reid’s first fight in over three years and he looked rusty as he struggled to a close points victory, the referee scoring the bout 39-38 in Reid’s favour.

Reid is lined up to take part in the Prizefighter tournament at the Olympia in Liverpool next month.

Joe Murray kept his unbeaten record intact, out-pointing Daniel Sassou over eight rounds. Murray was in control throughout, scoring a flash knockdown in the third round to get the nod 80-71 on the referee’s scorecard.

e-mail Dave Oakes

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