Ryan Walsh powers to another British featherweight title defence

Ryan Walsh celebrates after retaining his British featherweight title at the 02 Picture: PA

Ryan Walsh celebrates after retaining his British featherweight title at the 02 Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Ryan Walsh made the fifth successful defence of his British featherweight belt with a comprehensive victory over Reece Bellotti.

The record books will show the Cromer boxer won a split decision at the 02 Arena on Saturday night.

What they won't reflect will be the raised eyebrows and gasps of disbelief as the score of one judge was announced, making it a split decision.

While two judges recorded it 116:112, Ian John Lewis scored it 116:113 to Bellotti.

Walsh was philosophical after the fight, refusing to criticise John Lewis.

'All I will say is that he is a respected referee and he has made his decision – and I will respect it,' said Walsh.

Walsh dominated the early rounds, leaving an early mark on the side of Bellotti's face and taking the fight to the challenger.

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The Norfolk man was cutting off the ring well, forcing Bellotti to dance to his tune, and throwing the more dangerous and hurtful punches.

Bellotti finally began to show signs of life in the seventh, and eighth rounds perhaps knowing that the fight was slipping further away from him, but Walsh almost finished it early with a superb ninth round, where he launched attack after attack, forcing Bellotti to spend most of the round on the back foot.

Walsh - who hadn't fought since his draw against Isaac Lowe in February - had to withstand pressure in the closing rounds, but his ring management was always superior and the expected final round onslaught by the challenger never came; instead it was Walsh who finished well on top.

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