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Ten-round thriller, but there's no clear winner

By David Kelly

Conrad Cummings and Fredo Meli fought out a barnstorming draw in their battle for the vacant Celtic middleweight title at the Waterfront Hall.

The 10 rounder lived up to all expectations and at the end judge John Keane scored it for Meli 96-93, Ian Jon Lewis voted for Cummings 95-92, while Belfast judge Paul McCullagh had it even, 94-94.

Belfast man Meli found himself on the canvas inside a minute when he was tagged by a straight left hand, but responded by going straight back into the danger zone, standing toe-to-toe with Cummings, who was forced to take some snappy left hands.

The handspeed of Meli was giving Cummings trouble as he got peppered with short blows from the Belfast southpaw in the second round while trying to load up with his power shots.

Standing at close quarters, Meli was taking a half step back and then spearing the Cummings defence, but from the middle to the end of the fourth Cummings started to find the target with his short hooks.

Meli came out firing at the start of the fifth, backing Cummings up and unloading a relentless amount of leather. Cummings was looking to land his single, heavy blows, but the Belfast man refused to let him settle, maintaining his terrific work rate.

Going into the sixth the Cummings corner knew they were behind and the Coalisland man tried to stamp his authority on the bout, but Meli used his footwork to stay out of range while also doing enough work of his own to edge the round.

Meli was circling and looking to pot-shot at the start of the seventh, but Cummings managed to get close and get through with some effective work, finding the target with short left and right hands in what was his best round for some time.

The Belfast man started quickly again at the start of the eighth and Cummings met fire with fire, getting through with his heavy blows and with 30 seconds remaining both men landed quality shots right to the bell.

Cummings enjoyed some of his most effective work at the start of the ninth, ramming home lefts and rights before, bizarrely English referee Paul Williams deducted a point from both men - Cummings for pushing down his opponent's head and Meli for low blows. The intensity was growing and it was Cummings who finished the stronger of the two at the end of the round.

The crowd rose as one for the final three minutes, each set of supporters driving their man on and it was Cummings who dominated - unloading more combinations than he had in any other round.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paddy Gallagher stayed on course for an Irish welterweight title fight with a fourth-round stoppage of the Czech Republic's Tomas Bartunek.

Gallagher seemed in control when he floored the Czech with a left hook to the body in the third and then rattled him further with a series of blows, but with 10 seconds remaining he was wobbled by a right hand.

Bartunek was growing in confidence and forcing Gallagher back until the Belfast man slammed home a straight hand which sent his opponent tumbling to the canvas. Credit to Bartunek, he somehow got to his feet, but walked into a further barrage which led referee John Lowey to call a halt at 2:44.

Welterweight Matthew Wilton took his unbeaten record to 13 with a routine 59-56 victory over Frenchman Mohamed Larabi in their six rounder.

Scottish light-welterweight prospect Josh Taylor stopped Romanian Daniel Minescu after only 45 seconds to chalk up his third consecutive victory since turning pro with Barry McGuigan.

Belfast Telegraph


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