Froch retains IBF title with knock-out
Carl Froch avoided any slip ups as he retained his IBF super-middleweight title with a third-round knockout of American Yusaf Mack.
The Nottingham veteran was enjoying a rare 'home banker' in his native city against Mack, a natural light-heavyweight who boiled down to 12 stone for this challenge.
So it proved, with Froch breaking Mack up over three rounds at the Capital FM Arena before stopping the challenger with two lovely body shots.
Mack, 32, had lost every time he had met elite opposition and was a rank underdog against the three-time world champion with a record of 31-4-2, 17 of those wins coming early but all four defeats being stoppages.
Froch, on the other hand, had a record of 29-2 with 21 stoppages and was in his ninth consecutive world title fight having come through an astonishing run of bouts against the likes of Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward.
He has his sights firmly set on avenging his only two career losses, against Kessler and Ward, in 2013.
But he was wary of overlooking Philadelphian Mack, who was thought to weigh around a stone more than the champion by the time the first bell rang.
Mack was unsportingly booed into the ring by the partisan crowd while Froch received a hero's welcome.
Froch prodded and probed in the opening minute but stepped things up with a leaping left hook followed by a right. Another left hook had Mack down and, as he sat stunned momentarily, Froch stood over him, snarling.
Mack was up in time and Froch took his time but had his man's number, winging in short rights and lefts in venomous bursts.
Mack saw the bell but Froch smelled blood, stalking the American from the start of the second. Mack threw out the occasional jab but there was little intent.
A right-left to the body was landed by Froch and after another lull he stepped up before the bell, landing a right hand which took its toll on Mack as Froch winked at the challenger.
Mack landed a nicely timed counter right at the start of the third.
Froch landed an angry uppercut but was unable to build on it.
A left hook-right hand combination hurt Mack and it was over when a right to the body had Mack winded before two glancing head shots and a left hook in the ribs had him crumpled on the canvas and unable to beat referee Phil Edwards' count.
Meanwhile, Tony Bellew survived a nasty cut to jump a step closer to a world title shot with a unanimous decision win over Argentina's Roberto Bolonti in Nottingham.
The fiery Liverpudlian was seeking to build on his recent win over Edison Miranda as he looks to earn a second bid for world honours.
Bellew had shown his world title credentials in a premature and unsuccessful shot at Nathan Cleverly's WBO light-heavyweight title last year and has been rebuilding towards another crack since then.
He continued that progress at the Capital FM Arena with a solid win over Bolonti despite suffering a nasty third-round cut above the right eye which had initially looked potentially catastrophic to his hopes.
Tonight's scrap with Bolonti was essentially an eliminator of sorts for the WBC crown, with the body's inconsequential 'silver' belt on the line.
Evertonian Bellew, 29, had a record of 18-1 (12KO wins) heading into the bout while 33-year-old Bolonti (30-1, 19KO wins) was boxing outside Argentina for the first time.
Bellew provided the early pressure and landed a left which wobbled Bolonti mid-round. A right to the top of the head then put Bolonti down, though the South American may have lost his footing. He beat Victor Loughlin's count and survived the round as Bellew failed to capitalise, despite landing a big right.
The second round was all Bellew until a cheeky right from Bolonti gave him food for thought.
A left hook put Bolonti down in the third but again he rose quickly with a clear head. He was certainly more wary as a result but things threatened to turn when Bellew suffered a bad cut over the right eye, thought to be from a Bolonti left hook.
The wound was far from superficial as blood flowed into the Englishman's right eye but Bellew at least had Mick Williamson, a renowned cutsman, in his corner.
A left hook to the body by Bellew punctuated a quieter fifth round with he remaining patient safe in the knowledge Williamson had worked his magic on the cut.
Bellew landed a left uppercut in the ninth which was the best shot of the middle rounds while a left hook to the mid-section was correctly adjudged to have been too low.
A right uppercut seemed to hurt Bolonti and Bellew piled in, landing combinations for the first time in several rounds.
While the pace was slow and the action fractured, Bellew was winning the rounds with relative ease.
Another uppercut in the 10th led to another aggressive flurry but again Bolonti held it together.
At the final bell the fighters embraced, with both men claiming to have won. But the victory was clearly Bellew's, with scores of 120-106, 119-107 and 120-106.