ENGLISH lightweight champion Kirk Goodings gave further evidence that he is the real deal with a classy, clinical disposal of Fishburn fighter Gary Fox at the weekend.
The 24-year-old champion from Sunderland was never troubled as he outboxed his opponent throughout and stopped him in the eighth round of the scheduled 10.
And having made his first defence of the English lightweight belt, the Nookside boxer is now looking to step up in class again for his next fight.
The powerfully-built Fox, who bristled with purpose as he climbed into the ring at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on Saturday and never looked anything less than determined to hurt Goodings – continually came forward, looking to unleash the big bombs.
But Goodings boxed cleverly and picked Fox off in a masterclass demonstration of the boxer’s art.
The tone was set in the very first round, with Fox striding forward looking to mix it with the champion, but Goodings kept his distance and used his feet well and his jab intelligently.
In the second round, Fox continued to look to dominate the centre of the ring while Goodings boxed smartly and stayed out of trouble – hitting Fishburn’s finest with a right and left which gave the challenger pause for thought.
By the end of the third round, Goodings was building a lead, unloading in bunches from range, although Fox had some success launching himself at the Wearsider in flurries.
It was becoming a classic contest between a slugger and a boxer.
Fox had some joy in the fourth whenever he could get himself anywhere within range, but the elusive Goodings continued to frustrate his opponent.
The Sunderland man stepped up his workrate as Fox struggled for any momentum, Goodings finding his mark regularly and testing Fox’s durability.
The cat and mouse contest continued in the fifth, but by now Goodings was having ever more success at keeping his opponent away while picking him off with punches.
The sixth round was probably the tipping point for Fox’s hopes, with Goodings having won every round and now almost picking his man off at will.
The challenger always had a puncher’s chance, but the seventh was a good one for Goodings as well and Fox was visibly slowing down both mentally and physically.
There had been plenty of bad-mouthing of Goodings by Fox in the lead-up to the fight – the Fishburn man saying, among other things, he would give the champion “the biggest hiding of his life”.
The danger for Goodings might have been that he would let the taunting get to him and get dragged into a war where he might get caught by a sucker punch.
That looked like Fox’s only hope – Goodings so far ahead on points that he would have had to knock the champ out to have any chance of getting the belt.
And the eighth round did indeed finally open up into a proper punch-up, with Goodings going toe-to-toe in a tear-up.
By this stage though, Fox was a spent force and although Goodings was now up close and personal, his 28-year-old opponent didn’t have enough in the tank to do any damage.
Goodings unleashed powerful shots and at one stage, as Fox dropped to his knee under a barrage of blows, it looked like the champion might knock his man out.
But Fox was durable and took another long minute of free-flowing punches to the face and body before the referee stepped in – two minutes 34 seconds into round eight – to save the challenger further punishment. Fox did not protest when the official stepped in.
In the end, Goodings had done exactly what he promised in the Echo in the build up to fight night: he had let his fists do the talking.