NEWPORT'S Olympic hero Fred Evans made a winning return to the ring at the Celtic Manor as the British Lionhearts beat Italia Thunder 4-1 in their World Series of Boxing clash.

The St Josephs fighter, who won a silver medal at London 2012, edged a split decision after winning the fifth and final round against French professional Michel Tavares in a middleweight contest.

Fellow Welshman Andrew Selby enjoyed a more comprehensive points victory over Italian professional Daniele Limone.

“I’m pleased to get the win,” said Selby. “I haven’t boxed since the Olympics so it was quite hard to start off with but from the third round on my punches were landing.

“It was hard being at home because the crowd were loud and cheering for me and you have to concentrate but the support made me box better.

“It’s a good venue and I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to my next fight in London.

“Without the headguard it was much easier to see shots coming at you but you’ve got to watch you don’t bump heads. I wasn’t tired, I was faster than the Italian and that was to my advantage.

“I like the amateur style but it’s good to get the opportunity to box top-class pros as well.”

In the first fight of the evening British heavyweight Joe Joyce beat Matteo Modugno, another pro, after the Italian received a bad cut in the fourth round and the contest was stopped.

Ireland’s Joe Ward won every round against Hungarian Imre Szello at light-heavyweight.

But fellow Irishman John Joe Nevin, who won a silver medal at London 2012, lost a split decision to tough Serbian Branimir Stankovic at lightweight.

The event, which started in 2010, sees amateurs and professionals with less than 15 bouts compete without vests and headguards over five three-minute rounds.

The Lionhearts, competing for the first time this year, won their opening match earlier this month when a team featuring Newport’s Sean McGoldrick and his St Josephs stablemate Joe Cordina beat the USA Knockouts 4-1 in Los Angeles.

Their next contest is in Kazakhstan on Friday, December 7, before they host the German Eagles team at London’s Earls Court seven days later.