Photo gallery: Norwich boxer Nathan Dale was happy to let his fists do the talking against Ryan Hardy
- Credit: ©stillfocused.co.uk Jerry Daws
There is one way to legitimately wipe the smile from someone's face – and Nathan Dale's fists did the job as the Norwich boxer maintained his 100pc record with one of his toughest fights.
The 22-year-old has perhaps not faced an opponent like Ryan Hardy – not only did he have an iron chin which resisted all temptation to crumble under some almighty Dale shots, but he had attitude. An attitude that saw him exchanging pleasantries with Dale's corner for most of the eight rounds, and constantly play-acting in the ring.
Annoying at times, entertaining as well – but behind it all there was a good fight going on.
Hardy was no mug – he had an unbeaten record of his own to protect after six fights – but Dale prevailed, despite hurting his right hand during the fight and, by his own admission, allowing the Sheffield man's antics to get under his skin. The disciplined Dale sometimes went off track, but the instructions from the corner when the bout got to the nitty gritty of the final rounds was simple – 'bite down on the gumshield'. It's a Kickstop Gym mantra because it is in the final exchanges, of each round and of the fight as a whole, that boxers have to dig deep and when the daily work in the gym comes to the fore.
It was a scrappy affair at times, with Hardy enjoying his best in the middle period of the fight, but it was Dale who landed perhaps the more telling punches, certainly in the final round, when he produced three rights and a left that would have troubled more durable opponents. Result: a 79:74 win.
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'To be fair to Hardy, he had a huge chin – I congratulated him afterwards on having a chin like that and he said 'no one's ever knocking me out',' said trainer Graham Everett. 'That was his whole attitude – he was a character, another character Nathan has to learn to deal with.
'You could see where he has improved from where he fought William Warburton – he was a very difficult opponent but we are very happy with at.
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'It was difficult at times – you can see how awkward he is and it is difficult to box well against that.'
Dale was shaking his head as he went through the post-fight inquest.
'I don't do excuses, but I hurt my hand in the fourth round and I couldn't let it go,' he said.
'I didn't really expect a fight like that. I thought I would always rise above it, but he got into my head and I wanted to knock him out, I won't lie.
'He is a good fighter – I just didn't expect what he was going to do.
'I didn't think he was going to be talking to me and he kept spouting some stuff and I just wanted to chin him, that was what I was thinking of.'
Dale's top-of-the-bill victory was the icing on the cake after a good night for home boxers on a perfectly-matched bill.
Light-welterweight Scott Moises was a 40-36 winner over Josh Thorne, of Bexleyheath, while Lowestoft's Craig Poxton stepped up in class but still did well to dispose of Sheffield's Qasim Hussain 40:36.
Sudbury middleweight Billy Bird got off his sick-bed to record a 40:37 win over Dan Blackwell, of Trowbridge. Bird had been taken ill during the night and admitted it was touch and go whether he would be able to fight. 'We were on the verge of pulling Billy out,' said Everett. 'It wasn't his best performance, but he got the win and that is the most important thing. The Billy Bird story rolls on – that's four wins out of four now.'
There was also a win for debutant Charlie Garrod, from King's Lynn, who beat Mitch Mitchell 40:36.