Ross in Dome big fight shock

Ross Burkinshaw, left, after beating Jason Cunningham, right:  .''Picture by Dan Westwell
Ross Burkinshaw, left, after beating Jason Cunningham, right: .''Picture by Dan Westwell
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When opportunity knocks, you had better answer if the example of Ross Burkinshaw is anything to go by.

A week ago, the Sheffield fighter was preparing for a learning bout in an attempt to forge a likely last chance chapter of his career down at super flyweight.

But when he awoke this morning, no doubt nursing a few wounds, he was clutching the Commonwealth bantamweight title.

Burkinshaw was given the nod on a split decision after a blood-and-thunder battle with Jason Cunningham.

When reigning Commonwealth king Martin Ward pulled out of a scheduled defence against Cunningham a week ago, title glory looked to have been served up on a plate for Doncaster’s rising star.

But there was no accounting for the heart and determination showed by late replacement Burkinshaw at the Dome in Doncaster.

He made life incredibly difficult for Cunningham for the majority of the fight by never ceasing to come forward.

At times it was as if he was leaping straight at the former ABA champion to deny him the space he needed to operate, taking away the range Cunningham desired to deploy his jab.

It made for a scrappy affair but that largely played into Burkinshaw’s hands.

Cunningham seemingly took control in the third round as the jabs started to flow but after a couple of rounds on the wane, Burkinshaw found his second wind.

From the midpoint of the fight, the balance consistently tipped - the usually slick Cunningham showing his skills between down-your-throat advances of Burkinshaw.

That he looked like he had been hit by a bus said everything about what the 28-year-old had gone through for victory.

Judges Phil Edwards and Michael Alexander gave the fight to Burkinshaw 116-112 and 116-113 respectively with John King giving the nod to Cunningham by 115-113.

This writer tended to agree with King’s summation for Cunningham’s better work but it was always likely to be a close call.

Burkinshaw will now go on to defend against former champion Ward later this year while Cunningham - who relinquished the English title for the fight - will have to get ready to go again.

The performance of a long night at the Dome was saved until last with Andy Townend brutally stopping Killamarsh’s ever game Lee Connelly to retain his Central Area super featherweight title.

The hard-hitting Barnsley fighter plundered Connelly throughout and downed him twice with two huge hooks to the body in the fourth. Townend pounced on wounded Connelly early in the fifth and floored him with a big right to which he had no answer.

Earlier in the night there were wins for local fighters Tommy Chadburn, Robbie Barrett and Micky Davies.

Debutant Brad Botham of West Melton caught the eye on his way to a draw with Michael Stuart, showing good composure and a fine attacking array but allowed his opponent too much of a say as the fight wore on.

Conisbrough’s Chadburn had Miklos Hevesi down in a contentious second round knockdown him to a 40-35 points win.

Barrett won the battle of Barnsley against the tricky Jamie Zaszlos, 40-37 on points while

Davies returned from a brief retirement for a largely comfortable 40-37 points win against Iain Jackson.

On Friday night at Barnsley Metrodome, hometown fighter Ben Davies suffered the second defeat of his career after being waved off with a badly swollen eye just three rounds into his British Masters Silver light middleweight title fight with Mike Byles.

But there was to be hometown success for Ben Wager, Lee Noble, Jack Churchill and debutant Tony Cruise. Wager bounced back from defeat to Olympian Thomas Stalker with a points win over Dougie Curran who he downed twice in the first round.

Noble maintained his winning run by out-pointing Kiril Psonko, Churchill picked up the first win of his pro career by stopping Aaron Flinn while cruiserweight Cruise stopped Kevin Reynolds.