John Duddy came through a barnstorming 10 rounds with Howard Eastman at the King's Hall last night winning 96-94 on referee Sean Russell's card.
The Londonderry man had to come through some tough moments, taking many heavy blows throughout a contest which had the packed King's Hall fans engrossed through-out.
Duddy came in to an incredible reception from his vociferous supporters and quickly got down to business with his full throttle aggression.
The 28-year-old took the opening two rounds with his high octane intensity, pushing Eastman back to the ropes in the second and driving home his blows as the Londoner backed up to the ropes.
Despite sustaining a slight cut around his right eye in the third, Duddy still continued to dominate as he ran home his sweeping left hooks to body and head.
But the momentum swung in the fourth as Eastman moved up a gear and started to connect with his right hand with one particular uppercut sending the spray flying from the Derry man's head.
Former European middleweight champion Eastman was now into an ominous rhythm and in the fifth he picked off Duddy with three thunderous right uppercuts, which to his credit the adopted New Yorker just about shrugged off.
Eastman now appeared in charge of the contest as he dominated the sixth, catching Duddy cleanly with his quick, short, burst of blows.
But just when it seemed as if Eastman might start to pull away, Duddy put his double jab to good use in the seventh andoutworked the two-time world title challenger.
The eighth proved another close, exciting, encounter with some fine exchanges at close quarters which Eastman seemed to edge.
The tremendous pace continued in the ninth but Duddy got the better of it and roared on in the final round. He spoiled the 37-year-old's birthday party with his amazing, sustained pressure right to the final bell.
Duddy will now look forward to returning to the ring on February 2 at Madison Square Gardens having taken a step closer to world title shot in 2008.