Boxing: Eastman unravels Cherifi's defence

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The Independent Online

It took Howard Eastman a few rounds to find his range in last night's second defence of his European title before stopping the Frenchman Hassine Cherifi in the eighth round at the Norwich Sports Village.

Eastman, 32, is not only one of the best fighters in Britain but he is arguably the smartest and when he puts his mind to solving a riddle inside the ropes he invariably comes up with a brilliant solution. Last night Cherifi was forced to quit after even his exceptional bravery proved no match for Eastman's pure quality.

Close to the end of round eight another sickening right uppercut slipped with ease through Cherifi's fists and connected with his chin and when the bell sounded to end the session he gave his corner man a little nod of surrender.

Eastman is unbeaten in his last six fights since his only defeat when he challenged William Joppy for the World Boxing Association middleweight title in Las Vegas 20 months ago but he needs quality opponents like Cherifi to prepare him for another world title fight.

"You have to understand that Cherifi is a world class fighter and world class fighters do not fall over the first time they are caught," Eastman said. He is right and that is why last night's performance in many ways was one of the best of his career because after five relatively easy fights last night he was forced to think and then fight.

Now Eastman will take a break to consider the options available to him. Assuming Bernard Hopkins refuses all offers to fight him, that could include a move from middleweight to super-middleweight and a fight against one of Britain's top fighters at that weight. Eastman is a class operator and he deserves to fight for another world title, because if he comes to the end of his career having never won a world title he could arguably be called "the unluckiest fighter in British history".