ST JOSEPH’S lightweight Mitchell Buckland is eyeing a crack at the British title after beating Alway’s Craig Woodruff to claim the Celtic belt at the Newport Centre.
The 20-year-old took the belt that was last held by his older brother Gary with a 100-92, 97-94, 98-94 points win on the judges' scorecards.
The margin of victory may have been debatable after a thrilling contest with both youngsters giving as good as they got for the most part but Buckland always looked the more composed and controlled fighter.
The St Joes man dominated the opening three rounds but Woodruff came into it in the fourth and his body shots caused Buckland plenty of problems as the fight went on.
By the seventh it had developed into a real tear-up with the fighters trading furious flurries of punches.
A draw looked a real possibility but a late rally from Buckland was enough to give him a deserved win.
And he now has two successes over Woodruff after coming out on top in their previous meeting last year.
“It’s the hardest fight I’ve ever had,” said Buckland after Saturday’s win. “I’ve really got a lot of respect for Craig. He did well but I think the best man won on the night.
“It was a great fight. I had a gameplan to win the early rounds and then let him wear himself out before coming back strong again in the last few rounds.
“It worked out for me but he’s a tough guy,” he added.
“He gave me a good run for my money and he’s a dangerous fighter. He’s improved a lot since we last fought and it was close but I thought I won it by two or three rounds.
“I’m Celtic champion now and hopefully I can get a British title eliminator before too long.”
Newport welterweight Jerome Samuels also had an impressive win over Dai Jones, earning a 58-57 decision that could have been wider.
St Joes middleweight Frankie Borg, who won the Welsh title last time out, beat Peckham’s Diego Burton 40-36.
Danni Griffiths, an 18-year-old cruiserweight from Nantymoel, made up for his debut defeat last month with a comfortable 40-36 points victory over Derby’s Elvis Dube.
Cardiff’s Craig Kennedy stopped Latvian Nikita Mateuss in the first round of their cruiserweight contest but Peter Ashton, like Kennedy trained by former world champion Steve Robinson, lost 39-38 to debutant Thomas Jarvis of Reading.