English cruiserweight champion Matty Askin, from St Annes, warmed up for his New Year grudge match against Lawrence Bennett, with an impressive stoppage win at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.
His durable opponent Jiri Svacina failed to come out for the sixth round, the Czech Republic boxer’s corner pulling him out because of a side injury.
Askin had been the aggressor throughout and though some of his round-arm rights failed to connect, he did enough damage to the body to discourage and hurt Svacina.
Indeed, he went down for an eight count in round three after Askin did connect with a right.
Askin himself did not think at the time it was a genuine knockdown, admitting as much, but John Latham the referee certainly did.
It was at times a feisty encounter, with Svacina’s corner complaining about the legitimacy of one or two of the body-shots.
Latham saw nothing wrong except for one, which brought a ticking off for Askin.
However, Askin was very much on his game against an awkward opponent with a strange pawing guard and who seemed intent on keeping out of the way of his rival’s shots as much as he could.
Askin was barely hurt in the fight, though the same could not be said for the Czech.
It was a very good workout for Askin in a contest that was billed as heavyweight.
Askin said of Svacina’s style afterwards: “He was a horrible, tough guy, but I did what I had to do.
“Every time I got close I released on him.
“I varied my shots and I slipped his shots.
“I was hurting him with my body shot and hitting him with some bombs - he showed why he never gets stopped.
“He tried to throw back, but I didn’t give him a chance in there.
“I did what I needed to do- put him to bed.”
Of the count in round three, Askin said: “I didn’t think it was a knockdown, that’s why I was shocked, but I will claim it. I hit him with a right to the side of the head.
“I was hurting him with my body shots.”
Now it is Bennett, who is on Askin’s radar again.
The pair have met once already with the English cruiserweight title at stake, but it ended in acrimony with both boxers tumbling out of the ring and Askin unable to continue because of bruising which, he is emphatic, was caused by Bennett pushing him further down.
Pulling no punches, Askin said: “I am looking forward to giving him a good hiding.
“I don’t care where it is. Even if it’s in his back garden, he is going to get a hiding.”
Askin’s trainer Michael Jennings was well satisfied by his man’s performance.
He said: “Svacina was a very tough kid.
“He didn’t want to be stopped and to be fair to him, he doesn’t get stopped very often.
“It was a good win for Matty, getting back into the mood of things.
“There are still things to be worked on, which is good.
“We never want to see the finished product - we always want to see improvement.
“But he is getting there and it was a good stoppage.”
Jennings continued: “Bennett is next - hopefully the same result, another stoppage.
“It’s definitely a grudge match and after the controversy that happened last time, it wasn’t a good way for it to finish, but it has provoked a lot of interest in the fight, so we should get a lot of people coming to watch it and tuning in.”