Boxing: Brodie defies eye damage to overpower Argentinian opponent

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The Independent Online

Michael Brodie's left eye was closed and Richard Williams had to crawl up from a desperate last-round knockdown during a night of extremes at the MEN Arena, Manchester, on Saturday.

Brodie added the International Boxing Organisation featherweight belt to his trophy cupboard with a relentless performance of pressure against Argentina's Juan Cabrera in front of a small but fortunate crowd, in a fight that was ruined only by the swelling to the left side of his face that had completely closed his eye by the final bell.

The fight looked unlikely to last beyond the second round when Cabrera nearly collapsed after a precise left hook connected with his chin, but the Argentinian, who was stopped by Naseem Hamed six years ago, was extremely durable and brave, and held on during the last round to lose on points.

Brodie will fight South Korea's In Jin Chi back at the MEN Arena in October, provided the eye has healed sufficiently to allow him enough time to prepare, for the vacant World Boxing Council bauble, which in theory is the sport's best known but not necessarily most respected belt. Brodie had to relinquish his World Boxing Foundation belt to fight for the IBO belt, and he plans to do the same with the IBO belt when the Chi fight is agreed.

There was a brutal conclusion to the IBO light-middleweight fight when the reigning champion, Richard Williams, from Stockwell in South London, fell to his knees in the final seconds of the 12th round as much from exhaustion as the punches thrown by the Spanish-based Argentinian Sergio Martinez. Williams was fortunate to survive the round and when the scores were announced he was a surprisingly wide loser.

Williams boxed sensibly at times but was never happy with Martinez's southpaw style, and even when he managed to land perfect punches to drop the challenger in the second and 11th rounds he was made to miss as he went looking for a finish. It was a contender for fight of the year and Williams, who is one of the sport's most honest fighters, admitted it was just a bad night.

Belfast's Brian Magee was shocked at how easily he beat South Africa's clueless Andre Thysse in defence of his IBO super-middleweight title. The one-sided fight was stopped in the 10th round as Thysse, who at times looked like a complete novice, retreated desperately from yet another of Magee's attacks. The victor plans to defend his title in Belfast in October.

It is possible that James Hare, from Robertown near Huddersfield, is the best kept secret in British boxing, having won the Commonwealth welterweight title in virtual obscurity 14 months ago and defended it three times in fights that have barely registered on the boxing radar. But on Saturday night, against the form book, Hare added the WBF version to his collection of tacky belts with a clear points win against Russia's Roman Dzuman and looked impressive.