JONSON McClumpha boxed clever to land the International Masters middleweight belt in the perfect climax to yesterday’s Summer Rumble 4 show at the Stadium of Light.
The staging of the event has been fraught with difficulties for promoter Phil Jeffries, but the show itself produced some absorbing contests and was topped off by McClumpha fulfilling a dream by winning a pro title in front of home fans.
The unbeaten 23-year-old has had to be patient over the course of the last couple of years, marred by a serious foot injury and the cancellation of several bouts.
In fact, this was his first fight of 2014.
But the patience he has acquired in that time has clearly served him well as he intelligently constructed a victory over Doncaster’s Jason Ball, with the Wearsider going the full 10 rounds for the first time in his career.
The 30-year-old Ball’s strategy was to sit in for the first half of the fight and then look to stretch McClumpha when he entered the unfamiliar territory of the longer distance.
But McClumpha was smart and resisted any temptation to box himself out early on as he patiently compiled a comfortable lead without ever losing his discipline.
The first couple of rounds saw McClumpha coming forward but only able to land with single shots as Ball looked to settle in.
In the third round, Ball started to redden on the left side of his face, something McClumpha was to pay attention to for the remainder of the fight, but it wasn’t a bad round for the bearded, dreadlocked Yorkshireman, who launched several lunging attacks and kept them up in the fourth.
McClumpha came back stronger in the fifth, getting his jab continually in his opponents and finding his range with combinations.
The sixth round saw the fight opening up and the Sunderland man having to take a few punches as well as throwing them.
Ball’s corner would have hoped for a late charge from their man at this stage, but McClumpha’s punches had taken their toll.
There were clubbing right hands coming in from the Sunderland man in the seventh as Ball looked to come forward. And it was the eighth round which was pivotal as Ball continued trying to take the fight to McClumpha but had to absorb one piledriver to the body as well as a couple of damaging combinations.
The two boxers were tiring, but the ninth and 10th rounds saw McClumpha still largely bossing things with the Sunderland man starting the last round emphatically before seeing it out diligently to avoid any chance of an upset.
In the end, the bout was scored 97-95 in the Wearsiders’ favour – a decision which surprised some because the margin of victory seemed greater in McClumpha’s favour.
But he wasn’t bothered about that.
He had a title belt – a status he has craved since first turning pro – and the fight fans had had their entertainment.