Sheffield boxing: Grieving Sam O'maison dedicates his title to his grandmother
This was no ordinary boxing match, for Sam O'maison.
And it wasn’t the fact that the English super lightweight title was on the line.
This was a fight that had to be won - for his nan.
She passed away onlydays before the Sheffield southpaw got into the ring with Kevin Hooper, at Bramall Lane, on Saturday.
And O’maison badly wanted to dedicate his most priceless victory to her.
It went according to plan with a super third round stoppage. And it was a clearly-emotional boxer who later revealed his inner turmoil.
“I dedicate this fight to my nan” he said, adding he had been fitting in training in between trips to see her in her final days.
The family man, whose 27th birthday on fight-day was essentially overlooked because of the contest and his bereavement, praised his Grimsby opponent for not taking an easier route, as other fighters do.
O’maison said it had been a 50-50 chance for either, going into the scheduled 10 rounder.
In fact, it only lasted three. The Ryan Rhodes leftie connected with a wicked upper cut which downed the 34-year-old.
The more experienced, former English Lightweight champion hung on for a few seconds, but couldn’t dodge the combinations coming his way with increasing intensity.
Eventually, two more stiff blows to the jaw saw referee Shaun Messer halt the barrage. There were no complaints from Hooper, who had put in a decent first round, catching the home fighter with a right to the cheek,
But he didn’t have enough as O’maison followed in the footsteps of former Sheffield United footballer Curtis Woodhouse, to become English champion at 10 stone.
Several of O’maison’s fans immediately jumped on to the ring side to celebrate with him - but it was good-natured and enthusiastic rather than troublesome - and order was soon restored.
The O’maison camp hinted that negotiations had begun for his next fight: “There are better things coming for Sam” said Rhodes, who added that his man had put Sheffield boxing on the map again.
Ideally, Rhodes would like a defence then an assault on British and Commonwealth honours.
There were points wins on the undercard for Loua Nassa, Razaq Najib and Jayce Dixon, while Nicolie Campbell had earlier shown O’maison the way with a spectacular stoppage of Patryk Buczek in round two of their contest.