Boxing: McKenzie's rule ends: World champion fights to the finish

THE substantial pay-days which have so far eluded Duke McKenzie receded further when he lost his World Boxing Organisation super-bantamweight title against Puerto Rico's Daniel Jimenez at London's Lewisham Theatre last night, writes Nick Halling.

It was a desperately close affair and an argument could be made for both men. However, two of the three judges saw it in the challenger's favour while the third settled for a draw.

The champion had sought to steal the initiative in the fourth, connecting with a solid right to the jaw. But Jimenez absorbed the blow well, replying in kind before McKenzie landed an excellent right upper-cut. Significantly, however, the challenger remained unmoved, clear evidence that the Croydon fighter was in for a long night.

With McKenzie maintaining a brisk pace, the challenger attempted a change of tactics in the sixth, swarming into McKenzie in an effort to disrupt his rhythm. Initially the champion stood his ground and was able to score freely as Jimenez threw caution to the wind.

However, the veteran was unable to cope with his rival's superior strength and as the fight progressed McKenzie began to look increasingly distressed as Jimenez maintained his relentless assault.

From round eight onwards the champion's work began to deteriorate alarmingly, and it nearly all came to an end in the ninth as he was sent to the canvas for a count of nine following a wicked three-punch combination of body shots.

McKenzie's bravery allowed him to finish on his feet. However, the title was gone, with it the prospect of a unification fight with the WBC champion, Tracy Patterson, of the US.