Napton fighter Mike Cole finished off his first year as a professional with his third straight win at Walsall Football Club’s Banks’s Stadium.
Cole took on Liam Richards, who was beaten on points two weeks previously by IBF International Super Lightweight title holder Martin Gethin.
It marked a step up in quality for the 29-year-old despite Richards having taken wholeheartedly to the journeyman role having only tasted victory once in his previous 25 outings.
Cole was punching and moving from the off as he tried to pin down the elusive Richards and towards the end of the first round he switched his attention to the body.
Richards was troubled by the body shots, but Cole went back to boxing in the third before returning to the body in the fourth as he targeted a stoppage.
However, Richards held on, with Cole gaining a unanimous 40-36 points win.
And, Edwin Cleary, who coached Cole in the amateur ranks, says the move to the professional game has clearly benefited the super lightweight.
“Mike has shown he’s levels above these guys in his first year,” said Cleary.
“Boxing three times, Mike’s not dropped a round which is fantastic.
“Richards has been in with a lot of prospects but admitted afterwards that this was his toughest fight to date.
“He said he just couldn’t keep him off and didn’t know what or where the punches were coming from.
“Mike’s found his style. As an amateur Mike was always battling with who he is, boxer or fighter, and struggled with the tippy-tap point scoring.
“He’s a big puncher who can box but he’s also unorthodox and gets a kick out of making opponents miss.
“It’s all coming together now and he’s looking forwardto 2017.”
Meanwhile, Cleary’s ABC’s Jake Finch bowed out in the NAGB semi-finals in Liverpool to the highly rated Jake Harrison (Gemini).
Finch pushed Harrison all the way with coach Roy Thornton saying he did not look out of place against his more experienced opponent.
“He was pushing the contest throughout the whole three rounds,” said Thornton.