Belfast's Anthony Cacace produces stunning display to lift British title
Anthony Cacace produced the performance of his career to land the British super-featherweight title in Birmingham on Saturday night, defeating Sam Bowen on a split decision.
The 30-year-old Belfast man has largely had a career of frustration but put that all behind him with a cunning display to take the Lonsdale belt from Bowen whose left eye was closed for the final quarter of 12 hard rounds.
As the bell sounded most at ringside believed Cacace was a conclusive winner but somehow judge Terry O'Connor scored it 115-112 for Bowen. Thankfully, judges Howard Foster and Steve Gray called it 115-113 for Cacace, who can now look forward to a very exciting 2020.
Manager Pat Magee said: "It was a brilliant performance, by far the best he has boxed as a professional and a lot of credit has to go to his coach Harry Hawkins.
"This win changes everything for Anthony. All kinds of options are now open to him. I'm confident that he will now get a world ranking after this because Bowen was ranked six by the WBO."
Cacace, for so long seen as a major talent yet to fulfil his potential, punched the air with delight as the verdict was read out to confirm that he had given people some idea of just why he is so highly rated in the Irish boxing fraternity.
The Belfast man, who had lost a previous British title shot in 2017 to Martin Ward, started his challenge with a great tempo and rarely let up.
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After taking the opening round with his right leads and accurate left hands, he edged the second as Bowen sought to walk him down. Bowen cranked up his workrate in the third round and Cacace found himself largely smothered by the champion's work.
An even fourth round was followed by one of the Belfast man's best three minutes of the bout as he rapped Bowen with numerous right hands and left hooks and Cacace's cause was strengthened when the champion was deducted a point by referee Marcus McDonnell for a deliberate head clash.
But Bowen then came up with his best round in the sixth as Cacace's output dropped dramatically. The Englishman maintained a high tempo, pumping out lefts and rights as Cacace backed off, circling the ring and countering with very little.
However, Cacace raised his game again in the seventh and eighth - switching from orthodox to southpaw with ease and landing sharp, accurate blows which were taking their toll on Bowen's features. As they entered the ninth round the damage around Bowen's left eye was severe and while he won the ninth the remaining three rounds belonged to Cacace.
Bowen's left eye closed over and Cacace punished him with stinging right hands, while making him miss as he skipped away with his impressive footwork.
Bowen's tenacity and defiance was undaunted and in the final round they traded some heavy blows despite both men clearly feeling the pace of what had been a highly entertaining clash.
Cacace's friend and reigning WBC international light-welterweight champion Tyrone McKenna commented: "That's the old Anto Cacace. That's what I've been wanting to see for a long time - it was a brilliant performance."