BOXING returned to a sun-drenched overspill car park at Sheffield Arena on Saturday (June 5) for the second consecutive night with Dennis Hobson’s latest Fightzone offering. The bill-topper was a final eliminator for the British super-bantamweight title between Salford’s Marc Leach and the Wolverhampton-based Thomas Essomba. While proving a gritty nip-and-tuck affair, the fight maybe didn’t quite live up to the expectations of some who had predicted a possible candidate for Fight of the Year. Truth be told, there was never an awful lot of daylight between the pair and so many of the rounds were close. For me, though, Leach was doing just that little bit more, especially early doors – sufficiently enough to nick rounds. His cause was helped greatly in the sixth when, already trailing, the game Cameroon-born Essomba was sent down momentarily from a short right. Essomba, connecting with several eye-catching shots, did reduce the deficit somewhat in the still sometimes-close later rounds, but insufficiently enough to swing the decision his way. Mike Alexander had it 115-113 for Marc at the finish, while Howard Foster and Darren Sarginson both had it wider at 115-112. John Latham refereed.

The only inside-the-distance victory came early in the second round of a scheduled eight between Derby’s Harry Scarff and the heavier Czech visitor Jan Balog. Scarff secured the win with just 80 seconds of the round having elapsed. With Balog only just having beaten the count after being decked by a particularly heavy left hook, referee Jamie Kirkpatrick decided that he’d seen enough.

Doncaster’s Reece Mould had his first outing since being halted by Leigh Wood while challenging for the vacant British featherweight title back in February. He returned to winning ways at the first attempt in a six against Venice-domiciled Nicaraguan Cristian Narvaez, who took everything that came his way, without ever really being troubled. Narvaez did have a bit of a go in the fourth but by the latter stages he was once more under the cosh and was twice spoken to for holding by third man Kirkpatrick. It finished 60-54.

Another six overseen by the same referee saw Derbyshire’s tough Lee Connelly in with Ayr’s Martin McCord, and it was McCord who claimed the spoils, the card at the finish reading 59-55. In his 68th pro bout Connelly saved his best work for the last couple of minutes when he looked to have done just enough to nick the session. By that stage, though, any chance of victory was well out of reach. McCord had begun well and opened what proved to be an unassailable lead, before taking his foot off the gas a little in the second half.

Grimsby crowd-pleaser Levi Giles had seen a number of prospective opponents come and go in the weeks leading up to the show before finally going in over six with Gateshead’s Kris Pilkington. Gilescame out on top in what turned out to be a highly watchable encounter. Kris had given a more-than-decent account of himself in this same ring when going down over four against Zak Miller just a week earlier, and true to form, he repeated the feat here, despite ultimately losing out 60-54. Levi, with the better quality work, noticeably upped the pace from the halfway stage, but Kris had come to fight and he was still there battling at the finish. The referee was Mr Sarginson.

With a plethora of boxers having debuted in this same ring just 24 hours earlier, this particular show boasted just the one debutant in the shape of Southwark’s Harry Mullins. Although he emerged a 40-36 winner for referee Sarginson, he certainly didn’t have things all his own way against Birmingham’s Reiss Taylor.

Also benefiting from a shutout 40-36 victory, this time in a bout overseen by Mr Kirkpatrick, was Bromley’s James Hawley. Encountering precious few problems, Hawley triumphed over Trafford’s still-winless Scott Williams. And there was one more 40-36 win, this one awarded by referee Sarginson to Manchester’s Jake James, who defeated Czech Pavel Albrecht.

The Verdict The in-form Leach books a shot at Brad Foster’s British super-bantamweight crown.