By Alexey Sukachev
British and Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Rob Norton (32-4-2, 19 KOs) retained both of his belts with a spirited but ugly draw in a rematch against former amateur standout Daniel Dolan (13-2-1, 5 KOs) over twelve hard-fought rounds at Leisure Centre in Altrincham. The aging champion, who turns 38 next week, applied his trademark clutch-and-grab tactics from round one, waiting for Dolan on his way in and trying to counter his aggressive style with well-timed left hooks, right haymakers and left uppercuts on the occasion.
Ex-heavyweight Dolan looked more solid than in their first fight a year ago but played Norton’s game. The first half of the fight was see-saw action with no one having a real edge. In round three, Norton spent a minute and a half bobbing and weaving but throwing no punches at all in return at the corner of the ring. Dolan went down in round seven on what was ruled as a slip. When it seemed the challenger had finally emptied his tank, Dolan caught the second wind and took rounds ten and eleven but the champion was once again better and sharper in the final fan-friendly stanza that saw promoter Ricky Hatton on his feet. The scores were: 115-113 – for Dolan, 113-116 – for Norton and 114-114 – a draw. Fightnews saw it 115-113 – for the challenger, while SKY Sports’ Jim Watt scored the bout 116-113 – also for Dolan.
In a heated rematch of their first entertainer two months ago, veteran Paul Samuels (21-7-2, 12 KOs) scored yet another scintillating victory over bitter rival Cello Renda (18-9-1, 11 KOs). The first fight between these two was surely the evident contender for the best eight-rounder of last year and saw Samuels winning the third-round TKO. This time both brawlers didn’t disappoint as well. The bout was fought in a heated way without any considerable defense. Both fighters were down hard after the left hooks – Renda in round two, and Samuels in round four. After the eighth stanza referee Phil Edwards scored it 77-74 – in favor of Samuels.