Steven Ward enjoyed the most impressive win of his career so far when Mexican Rolando Paredes was disqualified in the ninth round at the Titanic Exhibition Centre last night.
Popular light-heavyweight Ward was in full control when referee Hugh Russell quite rightly ran out of patience with Paredes following persistent use of the head, which had drawn blood from the Belfast man's nose.
Ward made a quicker start than usual as he used his footwork to move in and out of range, landing from distance and at close quarters in the early stages.
The Belfast man continued to control the action with his sharp, straight punching but near the end of the fourth turned away in agony when hit by a blatant headbutt to his nose. Paredes immediately received a warning from referee Hugh Russell.
Ward surprisingly backed up to the ropes midway through the fifth and that allowed the Mexican to have some success with his short hooks but the Belfast man eventually spun away and returned to his mid-distance punching which also saw him control the sixth.
In the seventh round Ward mixed up his work very effectively, smoothly switching from body to head and pivoting to create angles for his solid blows that snapped back the Mexican's head with great regularity. Warned again in the eighth round for use of the head, Paredes knew he was a beaten man and his desperation simply made Ward's job easier as he unloaded an array of punches and when the Mexican repeated his offence referee Russell called it off at 2:08 in the ninth.
Marc McCullough survived a crunching knockdown in the ninth to win a unanimous decision over Spain's Ruddy Encarnacion in their super-featherweight 10-rounder.
The Belfast man was in serious trouble as he staggered around the ring looking for safety having been dropped by a wild right to the back of his head.
Incredibly, by the end of the round he was firing back and went on to take the verdict on all the judges cards, 95-93, 96-92 and 97-91.
McCullough controlled the early rounds with his stinging left jab and used sharp footwork to nullify any attacks coming his way.
But in the fifth round he did have to absorb a crisp left hook that momentarily halted him in his tracks before returning to his tidy boxing and inflicting a cut on Encarnacion's left eye.
Nevertheless, a wild swinging assault from Encarnacion seemed to have McCullough in some bother as he hung on in the latter stages of the sixth, while in the seventh the Belfast man found himself tagged with a couple of solid body shots before another hard right forced him to hold on and clear his head. Encarnacion's glove touched down midway through the eighth round after a crisp left hand landed on his chin and McCullough followed that up with good work behind his jab to steam the windmilling momentum his opponent had been building.
But then came that right hand and McCullough crashed to the canvas before recovering and dominating the final three minutes.
Novice professional Sean McComb chalked up his third straight victory in the space of six weeks with a 40-35 points victory over Petar Alexsandrov of Bulgaria.
McComb's former Irish international team-mate Steven Donnelly was also a comfortable winner at welterweight as he outpointed Lithuanian Arvydas Trizno, 40-36.