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PORTSMOUTH’S Garry Neale re­turned to the ring af­ter a near-four-year hia­tus to take an au­thor­i­ta­tive 60-55 six-threes ver­dict from ref­eree Lee Ev­ery over Melk­sham’s durable Liam Richards in top­ping the Steve Ben­dall pro­mo­tion at the O2 Academy.

Gary used ed­u­cated pres­sure mixed with a high punch out­put as he looked to break down Richards over the full course. Liam was not given the op­tion of stalling for time or spoil­ing in patches to nav­i­gate through the fight.

Neale’s busi­ness-like de­meanour forced the Wilt­shire man to en­gage to stem the tide. In the fourth Richards suf­fered a cut from a head clash and he had to both soak up far more than usual and dig deep to reach the close.

In the first of three shut-outs over fourthrees ref­er­eed by Mr Ev­ery, Port­land’s Jack Carter won his de­but against Ply­mouth’s tough Chris­tian Hoskin Gomez. Carter was busy through­out and used his long arms cutely to find a home for his shots around the side of Chris­tian’s guard. Gomez landed with some hard iso­lated ef­forts and forced the pace, but the first-timer did well to work off the back foot when nec­es­sary.

Southamp­ton’s baby-faced Jack Hil­lier bested Lewisham-based Swedish south­paw Ed­ward Bjork­lund en route to his sec­ond win. Box­ing with a cor­rect, sharp style from a fairly wide stance, Hil­lier worked off the jab well and landed reg­u­larly with chop­ping right hands up­stairs. Bjork­lund was ex­tremely awk­ward and fairly neg­a­tive as he held, ducked and twisted his way through the fight.

Portsmouth’s Lu­cas Ballingall moved to 10 straight wins without blem­ish as he of­ten scored from the ring pe­riph­ery to calmly con­trol Stock­port’s Jamie Quinn. Lu­cas was al­ways a step ahead of Quinn, who came for­ward and tried to find spots to land his own work but the 21-year-old was fast and alert through­out.

Can­ning Town south­paw Lee Hal­lett pushed Tot­ten’s Jimmy Cooper all the way over six-threes but ul­ti­mately lost a 58-56 ver­dict on Chas Coak­ley’s card in a high-qual­ity con­test. Cooper’s ag­gres­sion, sup­ported by fast hands and feet, seemed to edge the first two ses­sions, but Hal­lett fired back early to keep him­self com­pet­i­tive. Jimmy’s punch rate waned in the third and Hal­lett seemed to have found a re­laxed rhythm by the fourth, which al­lowed him to dic­tate more of the ac­tion. Lee, spurred on by Cooper’s dis­tress from a cut left eye af­ter an ac­ci­den­tal head clash, fin­ished the bet­ter over the fi­nal two stan­zas.

Also on Coak­ley’s slate, Bournemouth’s Jake Gosling re­turned af­ter a 14-month lay-off to best home­town ri­val Bryn Wain over four-threes by 40-36. Gosling won each round clearly as he beat Bryn to the punch. Wain marched in and bit down on his gumshield but was hit re­peat­edly be­fore he could launch his own salvos.

Fi­nally, Lee Cut­ler made a state­ment on his paid bow as he forced Coak­ley to res­cue Ban­gor’s Casey Blair at 1-28 of the first in a mooted four-threes.

Cut­ler, box­ing his on home patch, dropped Casey ini­tially with two hard right hands. The North­ern Ir­ish­man rose and got caught with three more rights in the fol­low-up clus­ter and was rightly stopped on his feet.

THE VER­DICT Neale impresses on his ring re­turn.


Tough Richards is forced to dig deep to last the course, writes Will Hale from ring­side THE RE­TURN: Neale is back af­ter a long hia­tus

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