Dalton Smith, Soloman Dacres and Ellis Hopkins triumph in Manchester
Dalton Smith claimed the vacant English Super-Lightweight Title by dominating Lee Appleyard and forcing a sixth-round stoppage.
The referee stepped in with Appleyard still on his feet when Smith’s onslaught became too much, progressing the 24-year-old’s record to 8-0 (7 KO’s).
“I’ve got my first professional Title,” said Smith. “I’ve dreamt about this since I was a little boy. I’m English Champion! It’s the starting block for me. When the fight first got announced, I thought, ‘it’s just an English Title,’ but now I’ve got it, it’s like, ‘wow, I’m a professional Champion now.’ It feels good.
“All credit to Lee – he’s one tough kid. I was prepared for a fast-paced ten rounds tonight, but he took a few too many shots in there. I’m good friends with Lee out of the ring. When you go in there, it’s just business. I could see his face was getting busted up pretty bad. I felt sorry for him in a way. I’ve got respect for him. I knew the shots eventually would come, and I knew he wasn’t going to last long.
“I’m happy with my performance. You want to win in style. The knockouts are good. We want to win, but we don’t want anyone to come out of there hurt. People forget that was my eighth pro fight there. Lee is an experienced guy, and he’s been in with some top kids. He’s been those championship rounds.
“I’m taking my time. I’m 24. I’ve got one shot at boxing; I want to make sure that I do it right. I’m not in there with no mugs – they’re real contenders. That was a good step up, and I proved what I’m about. I’m not a championship-round fighter yet. Kay Prosper just boxed for the European Title – they’re the type of fights that I want. I want to get those championship rounds in. I’m in a tough division. Maybe I’ll get over to the States in my next fight, get a bit of experience over there. I’d love to do that.”
Birmingham Heavyweight Solomon Dacres won his first professional fight on points by battering Bulgaria’s Mladen Manev for six rounds.
The former Team GB standout, who has shared sparring with Unified Heavyweight World Champion Anthony Joshua and European Champion Joe Joyce, completely dominated Manev, earning a 60-54 decision from the referee.
“It was good to get six rounds under my belt,” Dacres told Matchroom. “I know a lot of people like to get the big Heavyweights that get them out of there in one round. But you don’t learn much from that. I got to show my skills. I didn’t just go for all power. I’ve got plenty more in the tank, so it was good to get the rounds in.
“I showed my hand speed at times, and I showed I could box. I didn’t rush it. I’ve varied the power-up. It’s all building up. We’re training to be a twelve-round fighter, not just a one or two-round knockout artist. You don’t gain much from getting someone that is going to fall over after one round. Six tough rounds, I got to go through the gears, show a bit of what I’m about and learn a little bit as well.
“I was pretty relaxed, to be honest. I’ve had plenty of amateur fights. I know that I prepared very hard. It felt good to get in there. Hard work is at the route of it all. If you put that hard work and dedication in, the sky is the limit. I’ll keep putting my head down in the gym and performing in the ring.”
Leicestershire’s Ellis Hopkins made winning to start to the professional ranks, comfortably outpointing Bulgaria’s seasoned veteran Borislava 40-36 in the opening bout of the night.
Hopkins, 20, is the first female professional boxer from the traveler community and hopes to inspire a new generation of girls to follow in her footsteps.
“It was a good performance. I got going in the last two rounds,” Hopkins told Matchroom. “I’m just glad to get the first one out of the way and on such a big platform. I couldn’t be more thankful to Matchroom and MTK for giving me the opportunity.
“She was tough. You can tell she’s experienced by how she knew how to hold on every time I caught her. Becoming the first-ever female from the traveling community to turn professional is a massive achievement, and I hope I can inspire more young girls to do the same.
“It’s the perfect time to turn over. Women’s boxing is going from strength to strength at the moment. I want to get as many fights under my belt as I can see this year, and next year we’ll push for Titles.”