Corby cruiserweight Simon Barclay had to dig deep to extend his unbeaten record in front of a sell-out crowd at the Best Western Hotel.
His six-round fight with Courtney Richards from Plymouth proved to be the toughest of the 25-year-old’s professional career.
After six action-packed, back-and-forth rounds, referee Kevin Parker’s scorecard read 59-55, meaning Barclay won five of the rounds.
Every round was competitive and Barclay lost a wobbly third when Richards landed cleanly with some heavy-handed wallops to leave him looking a bit unsteady for a few seconds.
Barclay admitted he was “buzzed for a few seconds,” but for most of a hard fight fought at a good pace, he boxed well under pressure. Throughout, the quality punches came from Barclay, but whatever he threw, he couldn’t discourage Richards.
Getting hit just seemed to make Richards fight harder and he kept taking the fight to Barclay, though by the last round, he was throwing less.
For Barclay, it was his first fight over the six-round distance and he said afterwards: “I knew it was going to be a battle, but I didn’t think he would be able to take some of the shots I hit him with. I was pleased with the pace I boxed at. I went the six rounds and finished well.”
He added: “The crowd were fantastic. I knew they would be loud and they didn’t let me down. They were something else.”
Corby welterweight Darren Murray gave the home crowd more reason to cheer.
He posted a 39-38 points win over Portsmouth southpaw Lewis O’Mara in a competitive four rounder.
There are easier debut opponents than O’Mara and after taking a round to get going, Murray was the busier and deserved the verdict.
Manager Mickey Helliet said: “It was a really good start from Darren and it’s definitely something to build on.”
In the opening fight of the show, Swansea welterweight Mano Lee dominated Paul O’Brien over four rounds.
Lee could be one to watch.
He started fast behind his jab and went on to use O’Brien as target practice for much of a one-sided fight that the referee scored 40-36.