Puissant Colne fighter Shayne Singleton proved he was worth his weight in gold after stepping up in class and forcing a final round stoppage against durable Welshman Leon Findlay.
The former English light welterweight champion, who usurped Curtis Woodhouse for that lucrative accolade back in March, returned home for the first time in two years to win on his welterweight bow.
And the 24-year-old proved a different proposition in the 10-and-a-half stone category. While used to counter-punching on the perimeter, Singleton moved to command the ring centrally and dictated with a staunch left jab.
As vociferous applause cascaded around the Colne Muni from the 300-plus ‘Barmy Army’ housed inside, the upper body movement and footwork of Singleton slowly crafted the openings as his jab - which pierced Findlay’s defence - was reliably followed up by sweeping right hooks.
In the second, as both fighters opened up and traded punches in close proximity, Singleton stumbled back to the ropes from an adventitious jab that his 29-year-old foe followed up with a crushing right hook that momentarily stunned the home fighter.
As the fight wore on, with Singleton remaining calculated and methodical, he started to utilise his combinations more to outclass Findlay while his work-rate, as expected, was stepping up a notch. Singleton effectively employed the leverage from his heels to add power to his shots, and a smart uppercut plus two left back hands in the fourth clearly rocked Findlay.
In the corner, coach Karl Ince notified his student that his jab was the key, and it proved pivotal and prevalent in the penultimate stanza as Singleton slowly but surely picked his opponent off. Then, with Singleton growing stronger, and with the pressure intensified, there would only be one outcome. While Singleton was caught on occasions, he never looked troubled. Instead, he grew in confidence and pummeled Findlay against the ropes before stepping off and smashing him with a thunderous left that saw Findlay crash to the canvas.
Though he survived the count, Singleton continued to batter the Welsh fighter and after successive right hands and left hooks, referee Steve Gray stepped in to halt the contest after a devastating right hook forced Findlay’s whole body to tremble.
“It was a crazy atmosphere; probably the best I’ve experienced yet,” said Singleton. “I’m surprised the balcony inside Colne Muni didn’t come down. There was an incredible amount of noise and I loved it. It’s great being on the big bills at other venues but that night topped the lot. The support helped me through it and performing in front of that crowd comforted me.
“He could definitely punch and I started to feel that in the second round. I didn’t want to mix it with him too early in the contest while he had the energy so I had to be sensible in the opening four rounds and then go for it in the final two.
“He caught me with a jab but I lost my footing and stumbled back. He got me good with the shot after that though. He threw a big right hook and I really felt it. I had to buy myself a few seconds by getting my hands over his and walking him back. Another one could’ve dazed me.”
Singleton added: “I spar big lads in the gym day in, day out, and I go to war with them but it’s slightly different because we use bigger gloves and head gear. It’s totally different getting in the ring with welterweight fighters but I showed that I can give it and take it.
“I’ve been working a lot on my movement. Rather than going on the back foot I kept to the centre of the ring and maneuvered him around. Usually I go back to the ropes and spin off. My strength and power enabled me to command the ring more.
“Stopping him was a massive bonus. Hopefully I’ll start doing that more often. It felt brilliant seeing him go down. I stayed calm and then let go when he got back up. I got him with successive right hand and left hooks and finished him off with a right hook. He was a tough, durable opponent and he’d only been stopped once.”
Shayne would like to extend his thanks to Intershape Gym, Asphelt Works, Bombay Lounge and Wellocks for their continued sponsorship and support.