BOXER Brian Rose is the pride of Blackpool sport today after an historic British title triumph.
Rose became the first boxer from the resort to be crowned British champion since another Brian, Brian London, held the heavyweight Lonsdale Belt way back in January, 1959.
The 26-year-old was crowned British light-middleweight champion on Saturday night thanks to a points win in front of his exultant fans, who produced a wall of sound at Robin Park Lesiure Centre in Wigan, willing him all the way.
Rose took the title away from the reigning champion Prince Arron, of Droylsden, belying his underdog status.
His deserved reward was to have the Lonsdale Belt, one of the most beautiful trophies in sport, tied proudly around his waist.
Rose produced a performance of controlled aggression and skill to out-smart Arron, his one-time sparring partner.
There was a scare for Rose when one of the judges, Phil Edwards of Preston, amazingly awarded the contest to Arron by115 points to 114.
But the other two arbiters, John Keane and Victor Loughlin, rightly had Rose the winner with respective scores of 117-113 and 116-113.
That was a cue for wild and justifiable celebrations for Rose, who had worked hard for this and had told anyone who would listen that he had the tools to beat Arron.
Indeed, many of his pals won money on him, backing their man at odds of 4-1 or better.
Rose, nicknamed The Lion, said: “I said all the way through that I had the skills to beat Arron and if I got the tactics right I would do it.
“I got the tactics right and that was the difference in the end.
“I know I am biased but I thought I won by seven or eight rounds – I don’t think it was a split decision, but I don’t care (that one of the judges gave it to Arron).
“All I wanted was to come out of that ring as the British champion, and I did.”
Rose reckoned that he had had an important psychological edge because of the sparring the two fighters had done two years ago, when he had the edge over Arron.
He said: “I knew from the sparring that something was in his head about it – so it was in his mind.
“He looked very tentative, and I just made sure I did not get caught by any daft shots and it worked for me.”
Rose paid tribute to the support he received from his army of dedicated fans, cheering him all the way to victory.
He said: “That is what I do it for – the Blackpool crowd and all my family.
“The supporters follow me all over the place.
“It’s brilliant, and it’s only going to get better now that I am British champion.”
FOR MORE REACTION SEE MONDAY’S GAZETTE