JON-LEWIS Dickinson successfully defended his British cruiserweight title for the second time in succession at the Rainton Meadows Arena last night.
And now he will go for a third defence which will see him win a Lonsdale belt outright.
The Gateshead man faced a tough and durable opponent in the shape of 31-year-old Mike Stafford, who had won 11 of his 12 fights.
But although the Merseysider started strongly, he was eventually battered into a unanimous points defeat by the sheer relentless persistence of the champion
The suggestion had been before the fight that in Stafford, Dickinson had taken on a genuinely difficult opponent – someone who might well take his crown.
And certainly the opening rounds of last night’s contest showed that was the case.
Dickinson enjoying the advantage of both height and reach started well enough, throwing punches aplenty down on to his stocky opponent.
But Stafford took them well, looking to lunge forward and get through Dickinson’s defence and occasionally succeeding with combinations to head and body which drew roars of approval from the travelling support.
By the end of the third, Dickinson was getting treated for a swelling above the right eye, which could have developed into a concern.
For all that though, the Gateshead man was still looking untroubled and comfortable.
And when he was caught by a shot from Stafford in the fourth, he leapt straight forward to continue taking the contest to his opponent.
The Liverpudlian seemed to be reluctant to use his right arm, which gave weight to suggestions from his trainers that he had injured it a fortnight before.
Whatever the truth, he had made a good start which he found impossible to maintain.
The fifth round was Dickinson’s best yet and although Stafford got one jaw-crunching left on target, it was the North Easterner who was making all the running now, going forward, throwing the greater number of punches.
That domination continued into the seventh with the champion showing a great appetite for hard work and Stafford strong defensively but seemingly running out of ideas.
The Merseysider rallied in the eighth, making more of a fight of it but Dickinson remained on top and bossed affairs even more in the ninth and 10th.
Stafford’s style had looked laboured from the start, with a low guard and languid attack but in the 11th he was looking genuinely ragged and although he conserved something for the final round he finished well beaten and Dickinson could afford himself a huge smile of satisfaction as he lifted his gloves in triumph.
The referees scored the contest 118-112, 117-112, 115-113 in Dickinson’s favour - “and still the British cruiserweight champion.....”