It was a tough task, but England’s Graham Earl pulled off the finest win of his career at the Goresbrook Leisure Centre, Dagenham, as he subdued world ranked Yuri Romanov of Belarusia with grit, determination and a magnificent punch output to win a 116-114 decision (in Britain, only the referee scores non-title fights).
On previous British excursions, Romanov had battered two of England’s top lightweights in Steve Murray and Bobby Vanzie, but Earl, despite a few rocky moments, would not be denied and kept punching until the final bell.
Romanov obviously models himself on fellow East-European Kostya Tszyu, as he came to the ring wearing solid black trunks and sporting an identical haircut to Tszyu, complete with little pony-tail at the back. His wide-armed style was also reminiscent of the Russian jr welter great, but, in the same way as when Tszyu came up against Ricky Hatton in the summer of last year, Romanov, 17-1-0 coming in, just could not summon the power or energy to subdue his non-stop English foe.
He did come mightily close, though.
After taking his time and easing himself into the fight, Romanov finally connected with a decent power shot in the 3rd, sending spray flying off Earl’s head…but only checking his non-stop assault for a split second. After that, despite some close rounds, it was not until the ninth round that Romanov managed to cause any more significant damage. With Earl charging in, the 23 year old Belarusian slotted home a countering right…and Earl suddenly looked like he would fall apart. His legs splayed and his balance went, but with nine rounds gone, Romanov was not quite fresh enough to capitalise, and Earl, now 24-1-0 (12), made it to the bell.
And after a minute’s rest, Earl was back to his energetic best, and Romanov suddenly looked a little dispirited that his best chance had come and gone. He bravely soldiered on, landing some tidy counter shots and showing good defence, but Earl’s work rate had been the dominant factor in the fight, and earned him the score by two rounds on referee Richie Davis’ card.
Earl, who is currently the British and Commonwealth champion, could now move into the WBC’s rankings with this win, as previously Romanov had been placed at number 6…although it’s always hard to tell exactly what any of the sanctioning boys are going to do with their rankings at any given time.
“I’m the best in Britain,” a jubilant Earl claimed afterwards, “I’m going to go and get the European title, and then I’m going to go and get world honours.”
Whether Earl can reach as far as that is yet to be seen, but if he can keep fighting like this, it’ll be fun seeing him try.
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