Terry Flanagan makes history with WBO lightweight crown

Californian suffers painful dislocation of shoulder in second round – handing victory to Mancunian


Terry Flanagan completed his dream of winning a world title when he defeated unbeaten knockout artist Jose Zapeda to claim the vacant World Boxing Organisation lightweight crown at the Manchester Velodrome.

But it did not play out as Flanagan had planned, as the Californian suffered a painful dislocation of his shoulder in the second round and was unable to continue.

Flanagan, who was boxing just a walk from his home in Ancoats, and was roared into the ring by vociferous local support, had prepared for the toughest test of his seven-year unbeaten career but the 26-year-old was gifted an early technical knockout victory. After a close first round, a clash between the pair in the second round saw Zapeda forced suddenly to withdraw in pain.

Flanagan fulfilled the ambition the former British lightweight champion had had sparked inside him after being ringside to witness Ricky Hatton win the world light-welterweight title against Kostya Tszyu just over 10 years ago. He was then a scrawny 15-year-old kid, who had sneaked his way into the arena without even having a ticket.

“I thought he’d just hurt [his shoulder]. But I had started to get my range, and I knew I was going to win that fight. I can’t believe it, it feels unreal to lift the world title,” said Flanagan, while Zapeda demanded a rematch.

Flanagan moved to 28-0, while Zapeda lost for the first time in 24 contests, having taken out 20 opponents by knockout. Remarkably, the victory made Flanagan the first Englishman to win a lightweight world title. Scotsmen Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan are the two standout lightweight champions remembered for their world-winning feats.

“Now I’m world champion I can start believing in myself,” added Flanagan, whose boxing hero Hatton was ringside to watch a fellow Mancunian enter into local boxing folklore.

Earlier, Liam Walsh, from Cromer, had dismantled Brazilian puncher Isisas Santos Sampaio in six rounds to claim the vacant WBO Intercontinental title with a devastating body shot.

Walsh, one of three brothers who box professionally, was frustrated early on in the bout by Sampaio’s negative tactics, but he switched from orthodox to southpaw in the fourth round and started to connect with his punches.

In the sixth round he landed a long left to Sampaio’s head and then with the same hand delivered a crunching body shot that left Sampaio rolling around in agony. The Brazilian was unable to make the count.

Walsh’s win sees him capture a fifth championship title and he will now enter the WBO top 10 rankings as he closes in a world title shot. Flanagan is now a potential opponent.

“Sampaio was a tough nut to crack, he wasn’t like I’d seen on video footage, from what I saw he was more aggressive and attacking, I was looking forward to seeing that but he didn’t show it,” said Walsh.

“Although it wasn’t my best performance, it was one of my best finishes and I’m really happy with the ending, it was a beautiful shot and I knew that he wasn’t going to get up from that one.

“I’ll sit down with my team and evaluate where we go next because I’ve got options at super-featherweight and lightweight. I think it would be a cracking fight between two undefeated British fighters – me and Flanagan.” It would be an intriguing contest, but the WBO is likely to order a rematch between Flanagan and Zapeda first