Arnfield goes out on shield in middleweight title defeat

Arnfield - so brave in defeat
Arnfield - so brave in defeat
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Stalmine boxer Jack Arnfield lost a unanimous points decision in his vain bid to claim the British middleweight title off champion Nick Blackwell - but he won a host of new admirers

Blackwell was rightly declared the winner on all three judges' cards, but Arnfield, who took the fight at only eight days' notice, proved that he was well worth campaigning at this level.

Indeed, in many ways it was a career-best performance by Arnfield, mixing raw courage with no little ring skill.

It had looked as though the contest would go no further than the fifth round for it was in that session that Arnfield took a count after receiving a vicious left from the hard-punching Blackwell to the short rib.

But Arnfield weathered the storm and was always competitive after that.

For much of the 12-rounder, Arnfield's first over that distance, he had to cope with the handicap of a damaged left eye that kept seeping blood.

He sustained the cut in the fourth round, but battled on regardless and proved to be a troublesome opponent in a scrap that delighted the fans watching on Channel 5 and the Arnfield supporters, who made the journey down to the west country and were determined to back their man and did so vociferously and loyally.

Arnfield jabbed well - his best session being the second - and it was in this round that the caught the champion with scything uppercuts.

It was not the only time in the contest that Blackwell was troubled by this particular weapon in Arnfield's armoury.

That said, it was Blackwell who consistently impressed the ringside judges with his work-rate and power.

However, Arnfield showed commendable speed of footwork to keep away from a lot of serious trouble.

Of course, Arnfield will be disappointed to lose - and there could be no quibbling whatsoever with the decision - but there many plus-points for him to take out of the fight.

It will help his national profile getting tv exposure like this and he has made a statement that he deserves a high position in the domestic pecking-order among the middleweights.

Arnfield was upbeat in defeat.

Bearing the scars of battle after a fight with no-hiding-place, he said: "I know with one or two more fights behind me, I will challenge again and I will win that belt.

"I was fit for this fight, but I would have been fitter for it if I had had a 10-week camp to prepare for it - I took the fight at eight days' notice and I have only just started to train with Michael Jennings and there are more things that I can pick up."

Blackwell certainly knew he had to be on his A-game to keep hold of the Lonsdale Belt.

He said: "I knew I couldn't afford to start slowly - if I had, then Jack would have won,

"I knew it would be tough, but I didn't think it would be that tough.

"I hurt Jack, but he still kept coming forward."

For what it's worth, this observer scored the humdinger of a scrap 118-113 to Blackwell.

The only men that matter - the three arbiters - had it 117-11 (John Keane) 117-110 (Ian John-Lewis) 115-112 (Marcus McDonnell)