Dubai: David Oliver Joyce claimed the WBO European featherweight title in Dubai on Saturday night, overcoming difficulty in the early moments of the fight to defeat Stephen Tiffney by TKO in the seventh round.
Joyce, who extended his perfect career record to 10 fights with the win, suffered a cut in the second round and appeared to be stunned by a good flurry in the sixth, but continued to push forward and set a high tempo throughout the fight.
The pair traded technical tit-for-tat blows throughout the enthralling opening stages of the fight, matching each other for output and intensity.
But it was Joyce who grew in to the fight, with the Irish fighter’s power and speed taking over by the fifth round.
A heavy favourite going in to the bout, Joyce ripped to the body in the sixth round, landing a left hook to the midsection and a right hand through Tiffney’s guard that appeared to take the wind out of the Scottish boxer’s sails.
Despite a good flurry from Tiffney at the end of that round that saw Joyce bundled to the ground, it was a big right hand that floored Tiffney in the seventh round, signalling the beginning of the end.
Tiffney got back to his feet but looked significantly depleted, taking a number of heavy blows to the head as his hands dropped to his sides. Saved by the bell, the fighter stumbled back to his corner at the end of the round.
The referee called off the fight moments later, handing Joyce his first his first title as a professional.
“It was an unbelievable performance,” Joyce said after the fight, “so thank you to MTK Global and all of the Dubai people who came out to see it.”
“I was confident going into the fight because I was on weight, and everything was perfect,” he added.
In contrast, the other main event, which featured a fight for the WBC International super-flyweight title, was a scrappy and stuttering affair until the closing rounds.
The bout between Nigerian Aliu Lasisi and Nicaraguan Ricardo Blandon went to the judges’ scorecards, with Lasisi winning the vacant title in a unanimous decision.
Blandon came out swinging in the early moments of the first round, with home favourite Lasisi, who is based in Dubai, slow to react but picking the better punches.
The pair spent much of the following rounds trying to find their rhythm, either tied up in clinches or winging wild punches that were way off the mark. Blandon did have success in frustrating Lasisi at points, dropping him with a stinging right hand in the third round, while the Nigerian failed to capitalise on Blandon’s defensive openness.
Things went from bad to worse in the fourth round for Lasisi, when he was controversially deducted a point for headbutting, likely putting him well behind on the scorecards.
Lasisi did well to catch up over the subsequent rounds, despite the rugged Blandon continuing to cause him problems. The Nicaraguan went down from a heavy left hook in the tenth round, as chants for Lasisi rang out through the crowd.
A gritty finish from both men saw Lasisi edge out the final two rounds to win on points at the end of the bout, much to the pleasure of his fans in attendance.
Elsewhere on the card, the quality of which is rarely seen in Dubai, rising star Sultan Zaurbek beat Chenghong Tao via fifth-round TKO, looking sharp and moving around stylishly with shades of Prince Naseem Hamed, who was watching on ringside.
Shakhobidin Zoirov, a 2016 Olympic gold medallist, sent a deafening statement of intent in his first professional fight, knocking out Anthony Holt in just 18 seconds of the very first round.
Saudi Arabia’s Zuhayr Al Qahtani also had a good night, defeating Indian boxer SK Saheb on points after the sixth round.
“I did relatively well but there is much room for a better performance,” Al Qahtani said. “He took some good punches and had a good chin, so well done to him as he was a tough, rugged opponent.”