The long walk back to world title glory got off on the right foot for Jamie McDonnell on a controversial big fight night in Manchester.
The Hatfield bantamweight ended six months of out-of-ring frustrations by stopping former WBO flyweight title contender Bernard Inom inside seven rounds.
It was an early stoppage in the main event that brought the night’s controversy and Doncaster interest was central to that.
York Road referee Howard Foster – one of the most respected officials in British boxing – was lambasted for stepping in to wave off the world title war between Carl Froch and George Groves.
Many felt Foster jumped the gun in ending the night of lionhearted Groves in the ninth round, though Froch certainly had in him trouble after recovering from a first round knockdown.
Earlier in the night it was as routine a win as McDonnell has been forced to produce for some time with 40-year-old Inom’s previous glories a long way in the past.
Announced as the former undefeated IBF world champion, McDonnell gave a performance of assuredness without being truly challenged by the Frenchman.
The height difference between the pair was considerable, allowing McDonnell to take full control of the centre of the ring.
He worked the jab well in the early rounds, sticking to a game plan designed to ease him back into action.
McDonnell said afterwards he felt rusty on his return and that was reflected most in his defence.
Inom did provided a few reminders of his presence, finding gaps between McDonnell’s gloves with several stiff shots.
But there was never any sign of trouble for the Doncaster man, who grew into the contest as it wore on.
He began to find shots to the body and from then on, it always looked like the night would be ending early.
Inom flagged after taking a right hook to the base of the ribcage in the sixth round.
McDonnell stepped up his work in the seventh, smashing in of body shots that opened the Frenchman up.
Inom could find no response to the attack and once shots started to find his head with regularity, referee Mark Lyson had little choice but to step in.
Much tougher challenges await McDonnell as he chases down a world title again but this was a start.
Elsewhere on Saturday night, Rotherham’s Ryan Hardy suffered the first defeat of his pro career in Norwich.
Hardy’s first real test ended with a 79-74 points defeat to the 11-0 Nathan Dale and he now slips to 6-1.
And on the same bill Sheffield’s Kas Hussain fell to a third straight defeat in a 40-36 loss to Craig Poxton.