GLENN Foot showed he had to be considered the real deal last night after a ferocious encounter with former European and IBO lightweight champion Jason Cook ended in a seventh round stoppage.
Thirty-eight-year-old Cook has undoubtedly seen better days but he was still a class above anything that the Sunderland boxer has so far faced in his career.
From the opening bell though, Foot showed scant respect to an opponent who was hoping that victory over the unbeaten Sky Prizefighter winner might produce one last pay-day, one last title shot on a long and impressive CV.
Both fighters came out looking as though they meant business in the light-welterweight contest - Cook showing great hand speed, Foot clearly full of power - and the opening round was all about the Welshman successfully avoiding Foot’s shots while trying to score with his own.
The Wearsider connected with a straight right flush to the face in the opening seconds of the second which had the crowd roaring but Cook showed he could take a punch and move on.
Though Cook was sharp, Foot looked relaxed and was smiling in the corner before coming out for a third round which saw him finding his range, catching his opponent with blows to body and head.
A stinging blow to the head knocked Cook to the canvas at the very end of the third – though the Welshman claimed the damage was done with a punch to the back of the head.
Round four saw Foot scoring freely although Cook was encouraged by a right hook to the head and a good body shot.
There was needle at the end of that round with both boxers staring each other out as Foot entered unknown territory – the first time in his career he had gone beyond the four round mark.
It didn’t faze him in the slightest.
The fifth round saw him deliver a great straight right to the face of Cook and then a clubbing overhead right seconds later.
Suddenly both boxers were letting it become a war, exchanging toe-to-toe stuff before they fell in to a wrestling clinch which ended with both falling to the canvas.
Cook’s crouching style made him a slippery boxer but in the sixth it was once again becoming a tear-up before a clash of heads opened a cut above the Welshman’s right-eye.
Foot sensed victory, Cook tasted desperation and unleashed a furious series of swinging lefts and rights into the midriff of the Marley Pots man who responded with thudding blows of his own.
Cook was certainly game and at the end of the round he stood staring at his opponent but Foot had turned to his stool.
It was gamesmanship on the veteran’s part, with the 25-year-old coming out to end the bout one round before the scheduled eight.
It couldn’t have ended in more emphatic style either with Cook taking a string of brutal blows to the head unanswered before finally dropping to the floor.
He took a count of eight and was continuing to take horrendous punishment when the towel was thrown into the ring at the same time the referee was stepping forward to stop it.
Beaten Cook tried to move towards the leaping Foot to congratulate him but his legs buckled and he needed treatment for several minutes on a stool in the ring before he was able to take his share of the applause for a brave and honest fight.
Foot was naturally buoyant afterwards.
“The game plan worked to perfection,” he told the Echo. “We were looking to get at him, frustrate him and force him to come forward later on when we would go looking for a knockout.”
The Sunderland man is now unbeaten in 11 fights and demonstrated before a watching satellite audience last night that his Sky Prizefighter triumph in January was no flash in the pan.
He deserves his shot at the British welterweight title sooner rather than later.