Boxing: Edwards cuts up rough after tough six-round test
BRITISH flyweight champion Chris Edwards was left bleeding and fuming after a night in Burslem.
The Fenton ace took on Anwar Alfadli over six rounds at the Queen's Theatre – and ended up needing stitches in wounds above both eyes.
The contest was judged to be a draw, but Edwards, back in the ring for the first time since winning a Lonsdale belt outright last December, was convinced referee Rob Chalmers should have docked Alfadli a point for dangerous headwork and that he had clearly won.
Edwards, who is currently ranked fourth in Europe, said: "The draw is a setback, but I've got big fights to look forward to.
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"When I have the time to prepare properly and box at my weight, I don't think anyone can beat me.
"I definitely thought I won the fight. I won the first four rounds clearly enough, and the referee should have taken a point off him. He was jumping around and catching me with his head."
The referee decided Edwards' wounds were caused by accidental head clashes, and Alfadli also had the advantage of being the bigger of the two men.
The six two-minute round distance didn't suit Edwards, pictured right , either.
He hasn't boxed over that distance since May 2006, and his all-action, grinding style is better suited to the 12, three-minute round championship course.
Trainer Lindon Newbon added: "We wanted to get rid of some ring rust and it did backfire a bit.
"Chris isn't a six-round fighter. He would have stopped Alfadli if it had been over 12 rounds."
For all Edwards's troubles, the home crowd had five winners to cheer.
Leek southpaw Andy Keates hopes a title challenge will be next after he made it five wins out of five with a four-round points win over Youssef Al Hamidi.
Show promoters Fight Factory are planning to hand Keates a crack at either the British Masters or Midlands Area super-featherweight title in the coming months after seeing him outpoint Al Hamidi 40-37.
Jimmy Doherty made the short trip from his Tunstall home to relaunch his middleweight career with a four-round points win over Lincoln southpaw Rick Boulter.
Doherty, out of the ring since January, 2009, said: "I'm glad to get the fight out of the way. I was a bit sluggish and my timing was off."
For most ringsiders, Doherty looked good. He countered Boulter's rushing attacks in the early rounds, then got him on the end of his long punches to win every round on the referee's scorecard.
Josh McLaren, the former England amateur international from Normacot, made a pleasing professional debut.
He was ice-cool against Arturas Zbarauskas, from Lithuania, and won every session of the four-round fight.
He said: "I felt strong in there. I was pushing him back with my jab and I felt I kept him under control. I stopped him getting his punches off. I found the openings, but knew I couldn't get lazy. I had to stay switched on because he kept swinging."
Milton tattooist Kev Hanks made a winning start to his professional career – but only just.
He had more than 300 supporters cheering him on against Lithuanian tough guy Aivaras Balsys and they saw him grab the points decision 39-38.
Hanks picked his shots smartly, but Balsys kept attacking and the local ticket-seller had to fight his way off the ropes in the third.
Hanks said: "It was very tough and has given me lots to think about and work on. I could have thrown a lot more punches, but was worried about burning myself out."
Chester's Chris Goodwin outpointed Andtreajs Podusovs in the other fight on the bill.
Nathan Russo has promised to win his battle to box after doctors prevented him boxing on the show. He failed a brain scan, but will seek a second opinion in the coming weeks.
Chris Mountford missed out on fighting too after a delay with his medical clearance.