Leonard Bundu squeezes past Frankie Gavin in Wolverhampton

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Leonard Bundu clung onto the European welterweight title by edging past the brave Frankie Gavin via split decision at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

The previously undefeated Gavin was stepping up his level of opposition by facing the talented and clever Bundu and the Birmingham man looked up to the challenge during the first five rounds.

The 28-year-old southpaw flicked out his nagging jab at the visiting Italian and repeatedly speared him with straight left hands and uppercuts to the pit of the stomach. Whenever the defending champion got close enough to throw his own shots, Gavin turned him and swiftly returned to the centre of the ring.

Devastating left hook

In the sixth round, just as it began to look like the reigning British and Commonwealth champion would click through the gears and cruise to a comfortable victory, disaster struck and he found himself face first on the canvas, writhing in agony, courtesy of a soul destroying left hook to the right side of his body.

Bundu strolled to the neutral corner with a smile etched across his face. He thought the fight was over there and then - we all did - but Gavin somehow summoned the courage and resolve to rise to his feet and beat the referees count.

Gavin managed to see out the round and he made it back to the corner for a minute long regrouping session with his excellent longtime trainer Tom Chaney.

From that point onwards, Bundu took the initiative and constantly pressed the action. What had started out as a high-class boxing match that Gavin very much enjoyed quickly transformed into a battle of wills that Bundu is all too familiar with and more than happy to be involved in.

In the second half of the contest, Gavin allowed himself to be backed up against the ropes far too often. In the early exchanges he would duck and slide away from the combination punching Bundu, but after the knockdown he would just lean against the ropes and cover up, allowing the 39-year-old switch-hitter to unload with clusters of hooks and uppercuts to head and body.

The bout was seemingly in the balance going into the championship rounds and the pair appeared to share success during that imperative part of the hugely important fight.

Tight decision

The judges took their time in tallying up the scorecards, and the crowd grew impatient. Some thought Gavin had pinched it - others thought Bundu's spirited surge had earned him the win.

One official awarded the homegrown challenger the verdict with a score of 115-112, whilst the other two judges agreed that Bundu had successfully retained his belt with identical scores of 114-113.

In his post-fight interview, Bundu hinted that he could be tempted into an immediate rematch with Gavin, but only for a big money offer.

Browne win

In the chief supporting feature, Australian powerhouse, Lucas Browne, claimed a razor-thin unanimous decision over the previously unconquered Andriy Rudenko from Ukraine.

Rudenko started the fight well by using his superior boxing ability and footwork to pepper the massive 'Big Daddy' with jabs and lead left hooks.

As the encounter wore on, Rudenko's feet began to slow and his punches appeared to lose the snap that they had carried early on. Heavy legged and with cuts around both eyes, Browne set about the task of bridging the gap which had been created in the first 18 minutes.

The heavily tattooed Sydney resident started to have success with stiff jabs, countering left hooks and short right hands and he gradually worked his way back into the fight.

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The more punches that the 35-year-old Browne landed, the more likely it seemed that we would see yet another crushing knockout from the crude, intimidating beast from 'Down Under'.

Rudenko, however, stood up to the much publicised punching power of Browne and continued to fire back with tired looking swings of his own.

It was the first time the Ukrainian contender had gone the championship distance, and only the second time Browne had achieved the feat.

It really was a fight of two halves and a draw couldn't have been grumbled about, but Browne got the nod with slightly alarming scores of 116-112, 117-112 and 115-113 and he will take the WBA Inter-continental heavyweight title back home with him.

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