By Danny Winterbottom ringside
Inside a noisy Liverpool Olympia former world amateur champion Frankie Gavin added the Commonwealth welterweight strap to his British title when Manchester’s Denton Vassell was stopped on the advice of the ringside doctor at the end of round seven suffering from a broken jaw.
Gavin (10st 6lbs 12oz) put on a master class of counter punching and timing against a dangerous, fellow unbeaten champion, and told Boxnation after the fight that ‘the sky is the limit’ as far as his career trajectory goes from here on in and a fight with Kell Brook isn’t out of the question.
A hugely talented southpaw, Gavin, 27, has been criticised in the past for his level of performance but straight from the off he looked sharp and focused as he immediately caught an advancing Vassell (10st 6lbs 10oz)with a lead left that jolted back the head of the man from Ancoats.
The heavily tattooed Vassell,28, had looked impressive in November last year when he stopped unbeaten prospect Ronnie Heffron in six rounds but as he stalked the British champion he found punches that worked against Heffron were easily evaded by the slick Birmingham stylist. Gavin used the ring to good effect and when Vassell gave chase he would time him with the straight lefts down the pipe and quickly tie his man up on the inside.
Vassell upped the pace and got closer in the third session and managed to sneak home a handful of jabs but normal service quickly resumed as Gavin swayed back beautifully from a Vassell left and stung him with one of his own in one seamless motion bringing a knowing smile to the lips of the Manchester man and a roar from the crowd.
Round five was the best three minutes of action from Vassell as he had success with a long right hand as Gavin languished on the ropes. The blow, although not a terribly hard one, had Gavin ducking and slipping as he attempted to avoid any follow up blows from Vassell but his attacks lacked snap and Gavin survived the mini crisis.
The sixth session provided the fights pivotal moment. Perhaps sensing he needed to change the momentum of the fight Vassell opened up with both hands and gave chase to a retreating Gavin. As Vassell closed him down Gavin flashed a beautiful left cross that cracked against the jaw of the Commonwealth champion. Vassell absorbed the blow well but the impact of the shot had broken his jaw.
Gavin was relaxed in round seven but it was the condition of Vassell’s jaw that caught the attention of ringsiders as it hung open and Vassell was in obvious distress.
As Vassell sat on his stool at the end of the session his trainer Bob Shannon ran his hands along the fighters jaw line as he inspected the injury. The ringside doctor leaned over the top rope, asked Denton to open and close his mouth then said “It’s broken” to Howard Foster before indicating to the official that the fight should be stopped.
“Give me a few more fights and I will beat Kell Brook” said a happy double champion after the contest.
Gavin made people believe in him again with a clinical performance moving his record to 16-0 (12) whilst Vassell was simply beaten by the better man on the night and slips to 20-1 (10) but will come again.
Ellesmere Port’s highly impressive Paul Butler dropped late replacement Najah Ali inside 10 seconds with a counter left hook and went on to pin his challenger to the canvas in round four with a sickening left hook to the liver in defence of his Commonwealth super flyweight title in the chief support.
Butler (8st 2lbs 12oz) looks to have the tools in his arsenal to make an impact at world level and was leagues above the game but outgunned Ali (8st 2lbs 10oz) who found himself on the seat of his pants from the first punch Butler threw. Ali was more embarrassed than hurt, however Butler was in the mood to impress and the little man from Clydach Vale in Wales via Bagdad in Iraq had to endure a torrid session.
Ali came out swinging wildly in round two but his punches missed by feet rather than inches. Butler dug in several lefts to the body that made Ali grimace but he gamely tried to fight back inside although the champion showed an excellent defence whenever Ali attempted to breach it.
Butler stunned Ali at the start of the fourth session and then a crunching left hook to the liver dropped him to all fours gasping for breath. Referee Richie Davies administered the count but it was obvious Ali wasn’t going to beat it. The end came at 2-04.
Butler moves to 11-0 (7) and it is rumoured that former IBF world champion Marc “Too sharp” Johnson will be working alongside trainer Anthony Farnell in an advisory role as Butler makes an assault on world honours.
Stephen Smith (9st 4lbs 8oz) made light work of Eddie Nesbitt after a year out, stopping the Northern Irishman with a flurry of punches in the opening round of a six threes.
Smith is still in the midst of rebuilding his career following his first loss in spectacular fashion at the hands of Lee Selby in 2011 but ‘Swifty’ looked calm and picked his punches well against his over matched opponent. The stoppage came at 2-54 and Mark Lyson of Liverpool officiated.
Talented Joe Selkirk (11st 6lbs) showed flashes of brilliance against Kieron Gray (11st 6lbs 6oz) in a six threes but ultimately the man who lost to Olympian Anthony Ogogo survived before losing 60-54 on Mr Edwards card.
Selkirk has all the moves but spells of inactivity have hurt the 27-year-old who was having his first fight since November.
Joe Murray sported dungarees and a straw hat before going toe to toe with Londoner Dan Naylor in an entertaining eight threes.
Murray (9st 8lbs 4oz) was having his first fight for new trainer Anthony Farnell but allowed Naylor (9st 6lbs 8oz) to tee off on him in some exciting exchanges.
Murray landed the cleaner blows for referee Mark Lyson running out a 78-75 winner but Naylor can be pleased with his efforts.
n the opening bout of the evening commonwealth light middleweight champion Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith (11st 2lbs 4oz) had a solid workout against the always tough Max Maxwell (11st 4lbs) over six threes before running out a 60-54 winner for referee Phil Edwards.