Boxing: Merseysider Neary makes mark over Holligan in a marquee

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IN TRUTH, Shea Neary's six-round defeat of Andy Holligan in Liverpool last night was of little more than local interest, despite the fight being sanctioned by the Norfolk-based World Boxing Union for their light-welterweight championship, defended by Neary for the second time.

The evening was an unqualified success for all involved, with the exception of Holligan. Authentic world-title glamour was in short supply on an exciting night of blue-collar fighters, promoters and punters. But there was glitz aplenty in this remarkable event, staged by the innovative and upwardly mobile, in a uniquely Liverpudlian sense, from the promotional team of Munro-Hyland. The show drew some 7,000 people to a packed marquee in Stanley Park, famously situated between Anfield and Goodison.

It is Holligan who will be considering his options following this gruelling, bruising battle in which he was stopped after 2min 42sec of round six, having suffered one knock-down and seemingly being seconds away from another. But the future looks distinctly brighter for the undefeated Neary, his promoters, his sanctioning body, and Liverpool boxing.

Struggling outside the loop of mainstream boxing promotion, without satellite TV patronage, Munro-Hyland, led by the 1984 Olympic representative John Hyland, have worked wonders in their home city. They have an unbridled enthusiasm and a desire for success against all odds. Neary is a major drawcard in Liverpool and has outgrown the city's existing auditoriums, so his promoters enlisted the help of the local council in erecting the marquee.

l Naseem Hamed the World Boxing Organisation featherweight champion, meets Wilfredo Vazquez, one of boxing's great survivors, at Manchester's Nynex Arena on 18 April.