Boxing: Akinwande's mood of destruction: Briton retains European title

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HENRY AKINWANDE made a successful first defence of his European heavyweight championship with a fourth-round stoppage of the Italian challenger, Biagio Chianese, here last night.

While it lasted, the fight was hopelessly one-sided. Akinwande, who had been in control throughout, landed a right uppercut, the heads came together, and when the two fighters separated, blood was gushing from a deep vertical cut between the challenger's eyes. However the damage was done and Akinwande's manager, Mickey Duff, insisted it was the uppercut, the Danish referee, Jess Andreasen, went through the formality of consulting the judges before ending the bout after 2min 16sec of the round.

The win keeps alive Akinwande's hopes of a lucrative meeting with Herbie Hide, the British champion, in the new year.

Chianese, a Neapolitan of prodigious girth, topped the scales at a gargantuan 18st 12lb, outweighing his rival by more than 36lb.

The Italian heavyweight title- holder presented an unmissable target for Akinwande. The 28-year-old Londoner's jab went relentlessly into the challenger's face although if the punches bothered the Italian it did not show, the 32-year-old plodding gamely in futile pursuit of his fleet-footed rival.

There was little finesse in the challenger's early work, Chianese seeking to corner his man and slow him down, Akinwande countering with accurate work to head and body, combined with smart footwork.

The Londoner came out fired up, his opening salvo a long right cross which caught the Italian by surprise. Having seized the initiative, he seemed determined not to relinquish it. As Chianese continued his ponderous progress, Akinwande was able to land a full array of punches, notably body shots which were absorbed into Chianese's wobbling midriff. As early as the third round it was clear that the Italian had little in his favour other than grim determination.

Akinwande, meanwhile, was boxing a clever fight, maintaining a brisk pace and mixing left hooks to the body with crisp jabs. In contrast, Chianese's work was crude, almost desperate, although one swinging right landed - almost by accident - around the champion's temple.

Whether the Italian was disheartened by shouts of 'Come on Mr Blobby' from the crowd may never be known, but he continued his forward progress until the finish. Akinwande's right uppercut did the damage, the Italian bleeding profusely, was led back to his corner. 'I think 1994 is going to be my year,' Akinwande said afterwards.