Veteran Lester Walsh thrilled a packed crowd by winning the EBF European Welterweight title in his last fight on Saturday night on a bill which included former two-time heavyweight champion, Riddick Bowe.
Club Republic in Leicester was the venue for Walsh’s 100th career bout and after beating Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Micky Mags on a points decision, the 37-year-old confirmed his retirement.
The Braunstone man said: “It was a great way to end a 100-fight career. It was a tough fight but I thought I had done enough to win. The support was absolutely brilliant. I won’t fight again, though. I’ve damaged my eyes boxing and I’m not getting any younger so it’s time to call it a day.”
The fight started at a furious pace but both boxers tired towards the end. Walsh gave as good as he got as both fighters slugged it out toe-to-toe before dredging up some energy for the sixth and final round.
The Leicester man seemed to be inspired by the crowd as he threw a final flurry of punches in the final 30 seconds of his boxing career. The judges scored the fight 59-57, 58-57 and 59-56 in his favour.
Walsh had plenty of family and friends ring-side, including his uncle, Bob Walsh, who flew in from Florida.
Walsh added: “It was great to have everyone there for my last fight. My uncle had never seen me fight before so it was a good one to see. Winning the European belt is the highlight of my career.”
‘Big Daddy’ Bowe fought an exhibition bout against Mark ‘The Great White Shark’ Potter, who fought for the British Heavyweight title before becoming a star in MMA martial arts.
Bowe, wearing a red vest and red shorts, has gained plenty of weight since the days when he was a star on the heavyweight scene, beating Evander Holyfield 21 years ago to win the world title. But he showed some of the strong inside fighting skills he was renowned for in the three-round spar with Potter.
Afterwards, Bowe said: “I had a blast out there. I want to thank the fight fans of Leicester for giving me such a warm welcome.”
Among the other highlights was Sileby 52-year-old Sean Gerrity winning his debut fight and raising hundreds of pounds for the Leicester charity which helps terminally ill children, Wishes 4 Kids.
Gerrity, who was trained by MMA ace Jim Wallhead, out-pointed the much younger Simon Massey in a brilliant display. Nursing a fractured left hand, Gerrity threw some accurate right-handers and managed to evade everything Massey came back at him with.
Gerrity said afterwards: “I was expecting to be a quivering wreck but strangely I wasn’t nervous at all. The crowd was unbelievable with their support for me. There was one point in the second round when we both stopped because the noise was deafening. I was absolutely mobbed afterwards. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
You can still sponsor Gerrity by logging on at http://www.justgiving.com/seanisboxing – the current total is nearing £1,000.
There was disappointment for Melton super middleweight Mark Swanwick, who lost his EBF English title showdown with reigning champion James Montgomery, from Castleford in Yorkshire.
Swanwick, who donated his purse to Cancer Research as a tribute to his late grandfather, was stopped after 12 seconds of the second round after a vicious right-hander put him down.
Two other Melton boxers enjoyed exciting victories against opponents from Liverpool, though. Kev Flannigan won a unanimous points decision against Josh Flynn, while Michael Robinson destroyed Kyle Montclair with a TKO inside 50 seconds of the opening round.
Leicester fighters Robbie Everitt, Simon Fleck and Mark Walsh – brother of Lester – were among the other winners on the Top Dog Promotions fight night, which was sponsored by STL Service Centre.