Cromer boxer wins thriller to retain his title

Liam Walsh retained his Commonwealth super-featherweight crown after an astonishing fight against Scot Paul Appleby at York Hall.

Liam Walsh retained his Commonwealth super-featherweight crown after an astonishing fight against Scot Paul Appleby at York Hall.

The Cromer man had to get off the canvas in the seventh, but responded brilliantly in what quickly became one of the classic small hall fights.

Both men went toe to toe, but Walsh left his man on the floor at the end of round 10 – and Appleby's corner had no option but to retire him.

The travelling 'Farmy Army' could hardly have wanted for a tougher atmosphere on a sweltering night inside the spiritual home of British boxing. Appleby was well represented by a mini Tartan Army, while Norwich City flags flew proudly from the balcony in response.

A smiling Walsh entered the ring flanked by twin brother Ryan and older sibling Michael to the strains of Walk of Life – and a massive wall of sound.

But the business was boxing – and as befits two quality fighters they were straight at it.Walsh's left jab went straight to work, an overhand right soon following.

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A short exchange saw both fighters land good right-handers, a second one by Appleby landing, but hardly flustering the Cromer man.

It was gruelling stuff in a sweltering arena, both men trying to establish themselves.

The Walsh jab was leaving red marks on Appleby's face as it consistently found its target but Appleby was clearly durable.

Appleby twice had Walsh tucked up in a corner in round two, but the pressure didn't last. A trickle of blood appeared from under Walsh's right eye and Appleby smelled it, going on to the attack, only to be halted by the bell..

The Walsh corner was surrounded during the break as they worked on the cut, but Walsh boxed cleverly, not losing his shape nor abandoning his discipline and allowing the straight jab to keep finding its target.

Walsh rocked Appleby in the fourth, but took a right to the gut in return while an uppercut all the way from north Norfolk came within a whisker of ending the contest. Walsh sneaked in a couple of his trademark left-handers to the body as the fourth round closed.

A right and a left opened the fifth round for Walsh, with Appleby struggling to find a tool to worry his opponent. Another right landed on the Scot's chin as the champion began to take the upper hand. A left jab rocked Appleby, but the Scot responded well and pinned Walsh on the ropes, landing good shots.

Walsh targeted the body in the early stages of the sixth, but again Appleby hit back each time. The Walsh chin was tested as the Scot strove forward, but then Walsh responded with a lovely left which had Appleby rocking on his heels, only for the momentum to be broken while loose tape was fixed on Appleby's glove.

Walsh landed a quick combo in the early stages of the seventh, but Appleby was stubborn – and then came out with a huge blaster as he floored Walsh with a right hand which sent the Cromer man sprawling. Walsh beat the count, and only just managed to survive the seventh round.

Walsh has a strong chin, and needed it, but he came out a different man in the eighth, rocking Appleby with a series of big punches. It was almost as if the seventh hadn't happened.

A cracking left would have finished most men but again Appleby survived, as he did a big right, but this time it was the bell that saved the Scot as Walsh landed punch after punch.

Walsh dominated the eighth, Appleby perhaps lucky to survive the ref's intervention. Walsh slipped to the canvas as both men went toe to toe, in front of an appreciative audience.

It was anybody's fight, both men landing heavy punches but both refusing to buckle. But then a body punch from Walsh's right hand had Appleby on the canvas at the very end of the 10th – and the tell-tale signs came from his corner as they realised their brave man couldn't continue.