TRAINER Gavin Rees was delighted to see protégé Jake Tinklin get through the toughest test of his professional career to date, even if he didn’t fully stick to the pre-fight game plan.

Risca welterweight Tinklin outpointed Hungarian Zoltan Szabo 58-57 over six frenetic rounds in Pontypool to make it five wins out of five in the paid code.

The 22-year-old went into the contest knowing Szabo represented a significant step up in opponent after four relatively comfortable points victories against men with losing records.

Szabo (27-23) had won his two previous bouts and boasted defeats of Welshman Zack Davies and ex-WBO European lightweight king Stephen Ormond on a CV dating back to February 2016.

And Szabo posed Tinklin lots of problems in what was undoubtedly the fight of the night at the Active Living Centre.

It was a proper test of Tinklin’s boxing ability and character, and he passed the examination after going toe-to-toe with someone who had turned up intent on spoiling the party.

“It was a good fight,” said Tinklin. “It was hard, but I enjoyed it. I should have boxed a bit more.

“It was a step up for me. He just kept coming and was very tough, but I knew he was going to be like that.”

Reflecting on his man’s success, Rees added: “It was a great fight, a real crowd pleaser.

“Jake could have made it a bit easier for himself if he’d used his jab more, but he likes a scrap.

“He doesn’t need to get into a scrap, especially with a big puncher, but it’s good he can do it.

“Apart from his boxing ability, he showed a lot of bottle and that he’s got a great chin. He didn’t stick to the game plan, but he did well against someone who is a big puncher.

“His opponent actually came to win. Sometimes guys don’t really try to win, they just stand there and get through the rounds.

“Jake fought plenty of good boys in the amateurs, but that was his first real test as a pro. It was only his fifth professional fight and he did well, and the main thing was he got the win.

“I thought he probably won four and drew two of the rounds. I felt the score was a bit harsh.”

Rees feels, like Tinklin does, that a crack at Welsh super-lightweight champion Kieran Gething, who was at ringside in Pontypool, could be next on the agenda.

“Kieran’s a great fighter and if you want titles you’ve got to fight these boys,” added Rees.

Meanwhile, former world champion Rees believes a move to super-featherweight is in the pipeline for Blackwood’s Craig Evans following his British lightweight title eliminator loss to James Tennyson.

“I thought it was a great performance from Craig,” said Rees. “A lot of people thought he’d be blown away, but we know how good Craig is.

“Craig did make a few silly mistakes, like walking backwards and staying on the ropes, and you’re not going to get away with it over 12 rounds against a big puncher like Tennyson."

And as for Pontllanfraith’s Kody Davies, Rees expects him to be out again next spring.

“We were told he’d be fighting again this month, but that didn’t happen,” said Rees. “It’s going to be February or March now, and it might be in Wales.

“He wants to fight for some sort of title, the British or Commonwealth. Kody wants to be a two-weight British champion.”