By Rich Jones at the Motorpoint Arena
WORLD Champion Terry Flanagan admitted he had unfinished business in Cardiff after a dominant defence of his crown.
The 27-year-old Mancunian southpaw successfully defended his WBO lightweight belt for the fourth time with an eighth-round stoppage of Orlando Cruz.
Flanagan was dominant from the opening bell, controlling the tempo and keeping the Puerto Rican alert throughout with a number of well-timed punches.
His constant pressure eventually paid off as he dropped Cruz with a right hand early in the eighth before he launched a ferocious flurry of punches which led the referee to stop the bout just moments later.
It was a classy performance from Flanagan, which could set up a mouth-watering showdown with highly-rated Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko next year.
But after an unspectacular win over Mzonke Fane by a unanimous decision in Cardiff back in July, Flanagan was delighted to show Welsh supporters what he is really capable of.
“It was great,” Flanagan said. “After my last performance here I wasn’t too happy, so I wanted to come here and show the Welsh people what I’m about – an exciting southpaw.
“Albeit against Orlando Cruz, I still had to go in there and do a job. I think I went through the rounds then
“I never go out looking for the stoppage. I went out there with a game plan. Steve (coach Steve Maylett) told me the first few rounds he’d be fighting out of fear – he’d buy faints and use that jab.
“Once he stopped coming back, Steve told me to start stepping it up on him and when we did start letting our shots go straight, we finished him.
“We knew after a couple of rounds how the fight would go, that once I started breaking him up I’d get him out of there.
“Hopefully Frank (promoter Frank Warren) can make that fight (with Lomachenko) happen next year, I’d jump at the chance.
“Everyone would put Lomachenko as a big favourite in that fight, but I think with my boxing skills we’d box off together and it would make for a great fight.”
Meanwhile, it was a memorable night for the Welsh boxers on show in front of their home crowd.
Highly-rated Clydach Vale fighter Liam Williams claimed the vacant WBO European Super-Welterweight Championship with an eighth-round stoppage of Gabor Gorbics.
Williams, who won the Boxing Writers’ Young Boxer of the Year in September, had been due to defend his British Super-Welterweight title against the undefeated Ahmet Patterson.
But Patterson was attacked during a training run last week and had to withdraw. Despite stepping in at short notice, Gorbics caused Williams some problems early on and set a fast-pace.
Yet Williams’ class shone through and he ended the bout with a vicious left hook to the body to cap off an exhilarating night of boxing.
The fight of the night also featured a Welsh winner, with Newport-born Craig Evans winning the WBO European Lightweight Championship against arch rival Tom Stalker.
The pair had twice faced off with both fights ending as draws, but Evans ensured the trilogy came to an ideal conclusion with a stunning performance.
Both boxers went toe-to-toe for 10 breathless rounds, and judges were again hard-pressed to choose a winner.
Yet Evans landed the cleaner shots and thoroughly deserved the majority decision which went in his favour.
Maerdy’s Alex Hughes and Swansea’s Jay Harris both made it nine wins out of nine to start their professional careers after convincing victories.
But Barry-born lightweight Jason Sillett suffered the first loss of his career against Cardiff journeyman Henry Janes.
There were also wins for Nathan Gorman and Reuben Arrowsmith, both under the guidance of British legend Ricky Hatton.
Unbeaten lightweight Kid Galahad continued his comeback from a drugs ban with a stoppage win over Reynaldo Mora.
Middleweight Tommy Langford saw off a tough challenge from Sam Sheedy to win the vacant British title in one of the most highly-anticipated fights of the evening.