Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Sean Duffy shook off the ring rust to seal his place in the lightweight final of the Unite Ulster Elite championships at the Dockers Club last night.
Duffy, the only Games medallist in these championships, seemed to lose the opening round to gutsy Sean Montgomery of Lisburn's Canal club but then settled into his tidy boxing to end a clear winner.
The Holy Trinity man's quality shots in some good exchanges near the end of the second and throughout the third round were the difference.
"It was my first fight since the Commonwealth Games so I knew there would be some rust but it's much better being in there with rust than not being there," said Duffy.
"I felt I started to get going in the second round... now I look ahead to the final and hopefully I'll win the title. This is the warm-up for the Irish championships."
Duffy should be having an all-Holy Trinity decider with Bernaldo Marime on Friday night back at the Dockers but his clubmate was denied the chance by a very dubious verdict.
Instead, Duffy will face Michael Glendenning of Errigle who was somehow given a unanimous decision over Marime after a fine all-action contest.
There was little between the two in the opening exchanges as the stocky Marime looked to roll under the lead of Glendenning and land his short hooks. He certainly found the target in the second round with one overhand right slapping back Glendenning's head and forcing him to back up.
The relentless assaults in the final three minutes was evidence that both men knew there was little in it and again it seemed the more telling blows were coming from Marime but when the decision was read out he was left bitterly disappointed and his corner even more so.
Duffy, who spars regularly with Marime, will start a clear favourite on Friday night to take the title.
The evening kicked off at bantamweight with a decent contest between Anthony O'Rawe of Braid and Sean Higginson of St John Bosco. O'Rawe did his best to track down Higginson in the opening round but repeatedly found himself on the end of his opponent's jab.
Higginson was comfortable on the back foot, keeping enough distance to land his straight shots and then step out of range as the Braid man tried to counter.
In the last minute, O'Rawe finally had some real success as he backed up the Bosco man and landed his short hooks.
With more than a hint of desperation, O'Rawe came out all guns blazing but while he had sporadic success, Higginson clearly deserved the right to go on and face Kurt Walker in Friday's decider.
There was another tight contest at welterweight when JD Meli of Immaculata edged out Monkstown's Michael Bustard on a majority decision - two judges voting for the Mac man and the other having it a draw.
Bustard certainly won the opening three minutes as he made good use of his southpaw jab. But then in a scrappy second round, Meli found a little more rhythm and in the third Bustard was rocked late on by a short left hook.
Other results: 81kg: Ryan Donnelly (Two Castles) bt Michael Cummings (Carrickmore) pts; 91kg: Stephen McMonagle (holy Trinity) bt William Close (Abbey) pts.