AFTER being pipped at the post by Preston’s Scott Fitzgerald in a thriller next door at the Arena a little over four months earlier, Liverpool super-welter Anthony Fowler returned up at middle in this 10-rounder against Blackpool’s former world title challenger Brian Rose.

Fowler won the vacant WBO Inter-Continental strap with a unanimous decision with judges Mike Alexander, Howard Foster and Terry O’Connor scoring 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93 respectively at the Conference Centre.

Action early doors proved advantageous to the busier, more industrious home fighter, who by the halfway stage was already leading by quite a margin. Brian, jabbing, was coming back towards the end of sessions but not with sufficient sustained work for it to make a difference.

Anthony Fowler
Action Images/John Clifton

Things were admittedly closer from the fifth onwards, veteran Rose scoring with some particularly heavy and eye-catching single shots. At the top of the eighth I wondered if he might be about to drag Fowler, as had been the case with Fitzgerald, into the trenches for a late little war.

A clash of heads in the penultimate session left Fowler cut by the right eye but it didn’t make any difference and he came on strong again in the last, rocking Brian to his boots with a huge right hook – at which point the crowd, fairly quiet for most of the night, once more came to life.

Watford’s Bob Williams was the third man.

Fowler is hoping for a rematch with Fitzgerald in the not too distant future.

Chief support saw “Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver” Jack Cullen retain the English middleweight title he had won as recently as May with a cracking performance. He handed unbeaten Londoner John Harding Jnr a one-sided beating, the end finally coming with 53 seconds of the eighth remaining.

John, out of his depth, had been down in the fifth and, trying to make up some lost ground, had thrown caution to the wind in the seventh. But by that stage he was missing with a lot and, truth told, it was a blessing when Bob Williams finally intervened.

New Matchroom signing Martin Bakole Ilungu, a Scottish-based heavy born in Democratic Republic of Congo, impressed in banging out Ecuador’s Ytalo Perea, previously a more than decent amateur.

Martin needed just 80 seconds of a scheduled eight to triumph. A chopping right dropped the visitor in his own corner and referee Alexander halted it just seconds later after a couple more clubbing hooks hit home.

Tynesider Lewis Ritson, having bounced back from his only career loss at the first time of asking last time out, went in against 29-year-old Pole Marek Jedrzejewski, who in a career boxed almost exclusively in Germany had seen all bar one of his 14 victories come inside the distance.

That wasn’t the case in this one with Ritson running out a winner with 10 seconds of the third remaining. Referee Howard Foster intervened when Lewis, having just sent Marek to all fours with a body shot, piled on the pressure on the resumption.

Ticking over with bigger things on the horizon, amongst them a mooted showdown with Ritson in October, Kirkby’s always popular British and European super-lightweight king Robbie Davies Jnr eased past Eastern European opposition in the shape of Czech Republic’s Michal Dufek, who had always found himself on the receiving end on a handful of previous UK visits.

This one finished in the third too, Robbie needing five seconds less than Ritson to see off his opponent who, cut on the left eyebrow late in the second, had been up against it right from the start. Dufek was left in obvious distress having been bludgeoned in his own corner before referee Steve Gray intervened.

After coming off second best in his last two, Cameroon-born former English bantamweight title-holder Thomas Essomba hadn’t gone for the easy option and found himself squaring up with Newport’s unbeaten Sean McGoldrick.

At the conclusion of this 10 the tenacious African, in his first outing since joining Errol Johnson’s stable, was up on all three cards, 97-93, 98-93 and 96-94 for judges Howard Foster, Terry O’Connor and Mike Alexander.

McGoldrick’s cause wasn’t helped when a head clash late in the sixth cut on the left eyebrow.

Tough Middleton southpaw Darryl Sharp, halted just once in 62 paid outings (by Welshman Liam Williams), survived some intense early barrages to ensure that Montrose’s John Docherty had to go the distance for the very first time, referee Alexander inevitably having it 40-36 at the finish.

Leeds southpaw super-bantam Qais Ashfaq, back in the city where he won his second amateur Elite title, made it seven out of seven by seeing off Brummie Sean Davis. Referee Mike Alexander tallied 79-73, Ashfaq’s fast hands and precise work seeing him home by quite a margin. Midway through round five a combination dislodged Sean’s gumshield.

Relaxed Liverpudlian Thomas Whittaker-Hart proved far too much for Sofia’s Ivo Krastev, sending him over backwards with a right for referee Steve Gray to halt it with six seconds of the opener remaining despite the visitor regaining his feet.

Manchester lightweight Dylan Evans vanquished Baltic opposition in the guise of luckless Latvian Aleksandrs Birkenbergs. Nothing if not consistent, the Latvian, who did have a bit of a go in the third, lost out again, 40-37 on the card of Mike Alexander.

Tattooed welterweight Nathan Farrell, southpaw brother of Kieran Farrell BEM, handed Braintree’s Dylan Draper a shut-out defeat in a one-sided affair overseen by Steve Gray.

The Verdict With this out of the way, Fowler will be looking for Fitzgerald rematch.

Anthony Fowler (156 1/2lbs), 10-1 (8), w pts10 Brian Rose (155lbs 3oz), 31-6-1 (8); Jack Cullen (158 3/4lbs), 17-1 (8), w rsf 8 John Harding Jnr (159lbs 7oz), 7-1-1 (1); Thomas Essomba (117lbs 7oz), 9-5 (3), w pts 10 Sean McGoldrick (117 1/4lbs), 9-1 (2); Lewis Ritson (139lbs 7oz), 19-1 (11), w rsf 3 Marek Jedrzejewski (136lbs 10oz), 14-3 (13); Martin Bakole Ilunga (262lbs 6oz), 13-1 (10), w rsf 1 Ytalo Perea (256 3/4lbs), 11-5-2 (7); Qais Ashfaq (129lbs), 7-0 (3), w pts 8 Sean Davis (131lbs), 14-4; Robbie Davies Jnr (145lbs 13oz), 19-1 (12), w rsf 3 Michal Dufek (145lbs 6oz), 25-22-2 (18); John Docherty (172lbs 2oz), 6-0 (5), w pts 4 Darryl Sharp (176lbs 6oz), 5-57-1; Thomas Whittaker Hart (179 1/2lbs), 2-0 (1), w rsf 1 Ivo Krastev (175 3/4lbs), 2-11 (1); Dylan Evans (133lbs 1oz), 3-0, w pts 4 Aleksandrs Birkenbergs (134lbs 6oz), 5-24 (3); Nathan Farrell (144lbs), 1-0, w pts 4 Dylan Draper (149lbs), 1-36.