Boxing: Matlala wears down dogged Ampofo

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Francis Ampofo, the British flyweight champion, failed in his bid for the WBO title at York Hall, Bethnal Green last night when his corner pulled him out after nine rounds against the relentless South African champion Jake Matlala, writes Harry Mullan. Ampofo had been worn down by the non-stop attacks of Matlala, who claims to be the world's smallest professional fighter at 4ft 10in, and he finally dropped to one knee early in the ninth for a count of nine. He did well to survive the round, flailing back as Matlala repeatedly pinned him against the ropes, but the corner's decision to retire him was justified, despite the boos from a section of the crowd who may not have been aware that the challenger's licence was suspended for a year by the Board of Control because of an irregularity in his brain scan. In the ring where, only two months ago, Bradley Stone sustained fatal injuries in pursuit of the British super-bantamweight title, it was better to be safe than sorry. Ampofo's manager, Barry Hearn, said to him in the corner afterwards: 'You'll probably hate me tonight, but in the long term you'll thank me.'