Martin Lindsay sensationally lost his British featherweight title to gritty Scot John Simpson after an epic encounter at the King’s Hall last night.
With his right eye almost closed and his body aching from a gruelling 12-round duel Lindsay bowed his head in bitter disappointment after all three judges ruled in favour of Simpson, 116-113. On my card Lindsay was winner by seven rounds to five but it could have gone either way as there was so little between the two in the second half of the fight.
The Scot is the proud owner of the Lonsdale belt outright, while Lindsay’s dreams of European and World title shots have turned to dust.
Making the second defence of his British title, Lindsay started favourite against Simpson and in the early stages his clinical blows looked ominous for the man from Greenock.
However, Simpson took the best the Belfast man had to offer and kept coming back for more in one of the best fights Belfast has seen for many years.
Lindsay immediately got to work in the first round to the Scot’s body, sending home a series of left hooks, every one of which was roared home by the vociferous crowd.
The Belfast man continued to score with the left to the body, while also reddening Simpson’s face with his solid jab as the Scot tried in vain to get within range to make his blows count.
In the third round Simpson wobbled from an overhand right and Lindsay continued to dominate the entertaining three minutes as the clash started to warm-up into an absorbing encounter.
Simpson’s workrate gave him the fourth round as he walked down the champion, firing out plenty of leather and in particular he got through with his short hooks over Lindsay’s guard.
The fifth was the best round of the fight so far. Having just edged the fourth Simpson came out and took the fight to the Belfast man but walked into further hooks as they went toe-to-toe.
Lindsay was waiting for Simpson to shoot out his jab before countering with his right but it was his favoured left hook which brought a cut over the challenger’s right eye.
While Simpson had suffered a
cut, Lindsay’s right eye was clearly starting to swell as the intense close quarter action continued.
Just before the bell to end the sixth and Simpson’s head was whipped back by a crisp left hook and right hand before he slung out an overhand right to finish another superb round.
Simpson was now right in the fight and he came out and drove forward at the champion, pressurising and outworking Lindsay whose tempo had clearly dropped.
The champion was now looking for single blows as Simpson maintained his relentless assaults and a right to the body clearly did some damage.
Simpson had now won two rounds in succession and the tide seemed to be moving his way.
It was now turning into a real
slugfest as they tried to measure each other up for the punch which would bring an end to a tough duel. Both fighters were feeling the pace and while Simpson continued to stand his ground, the better work came from the champion whose right hand over the top once again made a dent in the Scot’s defence.
It was now a war of attrition as they exchanged blow-for-blow, ramming home quality shots to body and head but without the same verve shown in the first half of the fight.
Lindsay’s left hand proved to be particularly effective in the ninth which he just seemed to edge.
However, the challenger came back strongly in the tenth and as Lindsay waited to uncork a sucker punch the Scot pumped his blows piston-like and one stage Lindsay was forced to cover up on the ropes from a furious assault.
The Scot had found a second wind and he was making it count.
Lindsay had to respond and he started the penultimate round with a little more vigour but as they slugged it out with every ounce of energy in their 5ft 7in frames it was Simpson’s punches which were having the greater effect.
Simpson finished the round the stronger of the two and as he walked back to his corner they clearly believed the title was there for the taking.
But Lindsay was not going to be denied and he came out and bullied the challenger with a series of right hands which rocked the 28-year-old to his bootstraps.
Yet he still kept coming and coming right up to the final bell of a truly memorable clash, the winner of which had ringsiders divided.