KIRK Goodings was today loving the feeling of joining the top flight of the lightweight division.
The Sunderland boxer took a significant step towards a British Championship challenge when he won the vacant English title at Rainton Meadows Arena on Saturday night.
Goodings outboxed Middlesbrough’s Paul Truscott in a North-East war, the 24-year-old gaining a unanimous verdict from the three judges, 99-91 from both Mark Curry and Phil Edwards and 99-92 on the card of Andrew Wright.
The Phil Jeffries-managed star is now “in the mix” but told the Echo that he will be patient and be guided by his boss and coach Sean Casey.
“To be the English champion at the age of just 24 feels brilliant,” he said.
“Lightweight is the best division out there – I could reel off 12 good names now.
“A lot of the top lightweights are in their 30s with all their experience and man-strength.
“I’m 24 and won this title in my 11th fight so I’m not going to jump the gun.
“The wise thing to do is probably have a rest.
“Not only was it a very hard fight but it was a long training camp as well. I think the future is bright – but there is no rush.
“I’m in the mix now and the best way forward might be a voluntary defence of this and then see what happens from there.
“But I will sit down with Phil and Sean and I’m happy to go with what they think.”
Talk of the bigger picture can indeed wait for Team Goodings.
Today they, and the army of fans who were at the Houghton venue on Saturday night, will still be in a state of ecstasy.
And rightly so. The victory and performance was truly out of the top drawer.
Truscott was strong and brave, as expected, qualities which Goodings matched, but the Nookside lad had the extra class. And a lot of it.
He made a super start and took the first with some accurate straight rights.
Truscott picked up in rounds two and three but Goodings still took both through his sharper punches and greater volume.
The Boro boxer, a former Commonwealth champion, produced his best session in the fourth, working well to the body of the home fighter.
Round five was a war of attrition and was it a sign that the experience and resilience of the 27-year-old Truscott could turn the contest around his way?
The emphatic answer from Goodings was no.
He successfully opened up some space in the sixth and seventh and while Truscott remained competitive, all the quality came from the blue corner.
Round eight was, again, a toe-to-toe battle but the last two sessions belonged to Goodings, who landed countless shots to the head of his rival. It was a fabulous display.
Even before master of ceremonies Bryan Hornsby read out the official verdict, the sporting Truscott was congratulating the new champion.
“It’s starting to sink in today,” Goodings explained.
“I’m a little achey, but the feeling of being a champion is something else.
“I don’t think the scoreline reflects the fight Paul made it.
“Credit to him, he came to win and made it so hard for me, but my speed and sharpness paid off.
“He did drag me inside a few times but that was his experience coming to bear, he’s had twice as many fights as me.
“But once I got my boxing going I was OK.”