Controversy reigns in county war as Nav Mansouri beats Sam Sheedy

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In a former steelworks, one of two South Yorkshire ironmen had to be victor, and one the victim.

And after ten rounds of molten fury, a split decision handed a win to defending English champion Nav Mansouri over challenger Sam Sheedy.

South Yorkshire rivals Nav Mansouri and Sam Sheedy produced a breathless battle of an English title fight

South Yorkshire rivals Nav Mansouri and Sam Sheedy produced a breathless battle of an English title fight

Immediately there was widespread condemnation of the verdict.

Many thought Sheffield’s Sheedy had landed the better punches in the early and mid rounds of this pulsating, thrilling spectacle.

Sheedy was dignified after the verdict, suggesting he had enjoyed the experience.

Out of the public eye though, it was a different thing. His trainer Glyn Rhodes said: “The wrong decision has blighted a boxer’s career, taking his unbeaten record away.

Nav Mansouri and his team celebrate his successful defence of the English title

Nav Mansouri and his team celebrate his successful defence of the English title

“He’s gutted and I am disgusted. Farcical decision like that ruins this sport.

“I spoke to Kell Brook and Clinton Woods (present and former world champions) and they thought it was a joke.

“I will be contacting the British Boxing Board of Control, but really what’s the point?”

Whatever your view of the verdict, two facts are undeniable: Rotherham’s noble Mansouri can take a punch and come back from the deepest of deep waters. And Sheedy is every bit as good a fighter as he has been telling us for a few years.

Sam Sheedy lands a superb right hook on Nav Mansouri

Sam Sheedy lands a superb right hook on Nav Mansouri

Even non-boxing fans would have been won over by this. If any event which started at 11.30pm could hold your attention, this was it. The two light middleweights were a perfect advert for their sport – disciplined, quicksilver-fast and at times brutal, but always mutually respectful.

Nav started out offensively but was caught several times by a whopping overhand right from the southpaw.

Sam was throwing the more meaningful punches and even when under pressure was finding a telling reply.

In round three the home fighter was in trouble after whack behind his ear. He staggered, something he repeated in the next session.

And Mansouri returns the favour with a big left

And Mansouri returns the favour with a big left

Sheedy began bleeding from his nose, yet both appetites for toe-to-toe action remained undiminished.

Sheedy missed wildly with huge sweeping punches.

Both were tiring; so was the audience, on its feet in appreciation.

Sheedy found himself in dangerous territory as Mansouri pressured him on the ropes, looking vulnerable for the first time. But, by the final bell, both men had fought to a stand-still.

It went to the judges with the much disputed ruling Michael Alexander 97-94 to Sheedy, with John Latham 94-97 and Terry O’Connor 95-96 for Mansouri.

Earlier, Dronfield’s Lewis Taylor won the English middleweight belt after a cut to his right eye halted his contest with Stafford’s Grant Cunningham after five rounds.

Lewis Taylor piles the pressure on Grant Cunningham

Lewis Taylor piles the pressure on Grant Cunningham

One of the scorecards suggested a tie, but the others a 49-47, 48-47 victory to the Dinnington office manager.

Taylor inflicted five or six painful body shots on his rival in the fourth round and deserved the win.

“The first round I thought I was a bit slow. I was getting caught with the jab quite a bit” he said. “I was just starting to get going and then there was the clash of heads. I thought I had got the verdict but it was close. I don’t feel I performed at my best. I could easily have done another five rounds.”

Taylor said he now wanted to keep pushing and try and land the British title.

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Dronfield's Lewis Taylor celebrates his English title triumph

Dronfield's Lewis Taylor celebrates his English title triumph

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