McDonnell retains with draw

  • Last Updated: May 22 2014, 15:48 BST

Gavin McDonnell held on to his British super bantamweight title by the narrowest of margins following a split decision draw against Josh Wale.

  • Gavin McDonnell: Clung on to his British super bantamweight title
  • Kal Yafai (l) celebrates with borther Gamal (r) after both won in Leeds (photo courtesy of Lawrence Lustig) 

McDonnell had edged a close decision when the pair met last September and, in his first defence since claiming the title, was again taken the distance by his Yorkshire rival at a packed Leeds Arena.

It was a relentless, brutal contest with Wale continuously marching forward and appearing to have the greater success in the earlier rounds.

Both men marked up badly as the action continued apace into the later stages, each man responding when the other looked to be getting on top.

But McDonnell managed to find some reserves to finish the contest slightly the better of the two and his work obviously caught the eye of the judges.

In the end, one judge scored it 115-114 either way, with the third card reading 114-114 to ensure McDonnell clung on to his belt, although the champion was quick to promise his valiant opponent another shot.

"I knew it was close, I thought I won the majority of the first six and the last couple, so I thought I'd just won it, but I knew it was close," McDonnell told Sky Sports afterwards.

"I'll happily fight my next fight in a rematch, he can have it. It was a good fight, everyone enjoyed it and I have no problems doing it again."

Meanwhile, Kal Yafai claimed his first professional title in impressive style as he stopped Nigeria's Yaqub Kareem in three rounds to claim the Commonwealth flyweight belt.

The Birmingham-born fighter totally dominated his opponent from the off and came close to stopping his man in a one-sided first round that developed into target practice.

Kareem showed decent heart to survive that and also come through a torrid second, but he had no answer to a vicious left into the ribs from Yafai at the start of the third that saw him counted out.

A delighted Yafai told Sky Sports afterwards: "I've been waiting a long time to get back in, I've had a horrible time with injuries and stuff but I had a good long time to prepare.

"I felt razor-sharp before I got in so I knew it was going to be a good performance... and it was a good finish."

Indeed, it was a memorable night for the Yafai family as Kal's younger brother Gamal impressed as he won on his professional debut, the big-hitting bantamweight stopping an outclassed Ricky Leach in the first round.

Also on the undercard, Leeds middleweight Reece Cartwright made it three wins out of three in the paid ranks with a shutout 40-36 win over Edgars Sniedze, while former Commonwealth gold medallist Simon Vallily won his fourth straight fight by outpointing Moses Matuivo 40-36.

Hull lightweight Tommy Coyle (19-2 8KOs) was given a decent workout by colourful Nigerian Michael Anshah.

At times it was niggly but Coyle always had the edge despite some anxious moments in the seventh as he ran out a 79-73 points winner.

Brentwood super-featherweight Martin J. Ward was too strong for Spaniard Reynaldo De Cajina as he ran out a 40-36 points winner, while a long wait for Huddersfield's new English light-welterweight champion Tyrone Nurse (29-1 7KOs) was rewarded when he outpointed Driffield's Danny Little 60-54 to close the show.

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