MICHAEL “Robbie” Johnson retained the 66kg WUMA Pro World kickboxing title in style, outgunning Belfast’s Aubrey Tarr.
Also, Sunderland’s Spartan Fighting Academy club-mate Craig Carter emphasised his potential with another thrilling success.
Wearsider Johnson, in front of a 1,000-strong crowd for the EFC5 at South Shields’ Temple Park, was in charge from the start and finished off his opponent in the third round.
Johnson comfortably won the opening round, then raised his tempo in the second, peppering in body shots and roughing Tarr up on the inside.
The fighters looked set for a long, arduous duel, but opportunity knocked for Johnson early in the third round when a powerful left hook buckled Tarr’s legs.
Johnson cornered him, unleashing a combination of shots, mixing head and body, switching angles and opening up Tarr’s guard until the Irishman went down under the pressure, though he beat the count of ten.
Johnson slammed in a left front kick to the face which spun Tarr around, but, as the Belfast scrapper responded, Johnson sustained a head cut and he knew he had to finish it there and then. Johnson ploughed the pressure on until Tarr was down again. The Irishman was back on his feet but in no fit state to continue and Johnson was again crowned world champion.
Rising Spartan star Carter, the WUMA Pro North East 66kg champion, moved up a weight and successfully claimed the vacant 69kg belt, too.
The entertaining 20-year-old Wearsider always had the bigger weapons in his duel with Middlesbrough’s Glen Colman, who was left bewildered by his opponent’s firepower and ability.
The punishment continued in the second round with Carter dismantling Colman’s will piece by piece until a flurry of powerful, well-placed shots had Colman on the floor. He made it back to his feet, but was quickly finished off, the referee jumping in to save Colman any further damage.
Coach Paul Grieves was thrilled, insisting: “Mark my words, this kid will be world champion one day. His head movement and ring craft are so good he hardly ever gets hit and, at just 20, he’s maturing into a complete powerhouse.”
Spartan’s Dean “Relentless” Petty also claimed a title, outgunning Dundee’s John Dixon, ranked number one in Scotland, to become the new British 69kg WUMA amateur champion.
Petty edged a hard-fought first round, then put Dixon down in the second. Dixon got up but Petty finished strongly, with the referee calling an early halt to spare Dixon.
Spartan’s Owen Murray delivered the first knockout of the night as he outgunned Martin Gifford in a novice 80kg full contact, then stablemate Dave Pearce held his own against Kuei-Ling’s Lewis Nelson in their novice 69kg bout, but Nelson finished stronger to take a unanimous points win.
Dave Buckley won his novice 82kg full contact bout against James Wilson with a second round knockout, while Spartan’s Michael Gibson scored a unanimous verdict against Davey Ellis, but Gary Lea lost a majority decision to Mick Porter of host club Kuei-Ling.
Ashleigh Liversidge lost out in a split decision after a thrilling contest with Laura Burnett (Kuei-Ling), but Scott Stoker soon got Spartan back to winning ways, just having the edge on Phil Smith in a 72kg full contact bout. Darren McMahon was pipped in a thrilling duel, arguably the most exciting fight of the night, in an amateur 84kg clash with Nathan McCarthy.
Results: Adam Jensen (Kuei-Ling) won unan pts v Jake Fletcher (NEKA); Lewis Nelson (Kuei-Ling) won unan pts v Dave Pearce (Spartan); Jack Bezance (Scorpio) won maj pts v Jake Thirlaway (Spartan); Mark Henderson (Kuei-Ling) won unan pts v Phil Byers (Spartan); Owen Murray (Spartan) won KO rd1 v Martin Gifford (AIKI); Dave Buckley (Spartan) won KO rd2 v James Wilson (AIKI); Michael Gibson (Spartan) won unan pts v Davey Ellis (JC Kickboxing); Mick Porter (Kuei-ling) won maj pts v Gary Lea (Spartan); Steve Jahn (Impact MA) won unan pts v Dale Hardy (Spartan); Mark Dixon (Kokoro Kai KB) won maj pts v Paul Hutchinson (Kuei-Ling); Laura Burnett (Kuei-Ling) won split decision v Ashleigh Liversidge (Spartan); Scott Stoker (Spartan) won unan pts v Phil Smith (Kuei-Ling); Stuart Roper(JC Kickboxing) won unan pts v Kev Moy (Kuei-Ling); Alan Davies (Spartan) won unan pts v Andy Hudson (Kuei-Ling); Nathan McCarthy (Kuei-Ling) won maj pts v Darren McMahon (Spartan); Dean Petty (Spartan) won TKO rd2 v John Dixon (Kokoro Kai KB); Richard Carr (AIKI) won KO rd1 v Steve Moffat (Kuei-Ling); Craig Carter(Spartan) won TKO rd2 v Glen Coleman (Scorpio); Michael Johnson (Spartan) won TKO rd3 v Aubrey Tarr (Belfast Freestyle Dragons); Jamie Moore (Kuei-Ling) won unan pts v Andrew Gibson (Impact MA)