THE last time I’d been ringside at a show was way back in March, when en route to a Carl Greaves promotion in Leicester, I’d spotted for the very first time, a lady wearing a face mask… Fast forward nine months and here I was, just a fortnight before Christmas, at a boxing drive-in show in the car park at Sheffield Arena, the first such event of its kind in the UK and the idea of promoter Dennis Hobson. It hadn’t been trouble-free, though. The show had been rescheduled and by fight time, local bill-topper Tommy Frank, with an eye on climbing further up the IBF flyweight rankings, was on his third opponent, Mexico’s Rosendo Hugo Guarneros.

I thought the confident visitor, scoring with hooks and landing the more eye-catching stuff, might just have taken an early lead in the opener. Frank ventured a little more onto the front foot in the second session, but from the third round onwards it was increasingly apparent that he was unable to properly throw his left due to an injured shoulder. When Guarneros finally grew wise to the situation and started throwing right hands in abundance, Frank was unable to block everything that came his way.

Despite the injury and with damage to his left eye, Frank still had successful spells. A short right early in the fifth stopped the marauding Guarneros in his tracks momentarily, and he was clattered with a trio of hard rights upstairs in the sixth. However, with no real let-up in pressure and with a third of the bout still to run, trainer Glyn Rhodes regrettably and much to the disappointment of his fighter had no real option but to pull Frank out at the end of the eighth (set for 12). Referee Mark Lyson accepted the retirement.

Not only were Steel City pair Kane Salvin and Sufyaan Ahmed putting their 100 per cent records on the line when they clashed for the vacant Central Area super-featherweight title, it really was a case of winner takes all, with the two of them putting their purses up for grabs as well.

Twenty-year-old Kane, the eventual winner for referee Darren Sarginson by a score of 97-94, set off at a rare old pace and opened an early lead. Ahmed, though, weathered the early storm, reduced the deficit in the closer middle rounds, and finished stronger as Salvin’s early efforts began to take their toll. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough.

Rotherham’s Kash Ali, now under the tutelage of ex-pro Richard Towers, ticked over against old adversary Phil Williams, whom he had previously stopped midway through the sixth. So it was a case a deja vu when the Swindonian, his nose bloodied, made it as far as the halfway mark of this six-rounder before retiring. The referee was Jamie Kirkpatrick.

Hungarian Gabriella Mezei never turns up just to make up the numbers and she proved a party pooper once more by deservedly taking the 39-37 decision against the Kellie Maloney-managed Cathy McAleer. As early as the first the Northern Irish fighter was rocked by an overhand right. Bested and beaten to the punch for the most part, she finished with a cut high on the forehead and with a swelling below the left eye.

Sheffield southpaw Keanen Wainwright banked a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it victory over Shepshed’s Joe Ducker. Wainwright twice sent his opponent to the canvas, before referee Sarginson decided enough was enough after just 1-48 of a slated four-rounder.

Earby’s Josh Holmes still hasn’t dropped a round since joining the paid ranks and he seldom looked like doing so against one-bout Prestwich novice Levi Dunn. Mr Kirkpatrick marked 40-36.

Ashton-under-Lyne’s Zak Miller needed just 2-17 of a four to overwhelm Mottram’s Michael Horabin (Mr Sarginson), while Mr Kirkpatrick awarded Sheffield’s Perry Howe a 40-36 verdict over Irlam’s Ryan Hibbert.

The Verdict Promoter Hobson and his team deserve credit for pulling out all the stops to ensure the Sheffield public are able to enjoy a night out at the boxing once more.