Sam Maxwell claimed the British and Commonwealth super lightweight titles as he scraped out a contentious and ugly unanimous points decision over Akeem Ennis-Brown on the Queensberry Promotions show in Birmingham.
Maxwell, 32, was picked off early on the by the elusive Akeem-Ennis, but the fight got close and messy, although many were shocked when the Liverpudlian’s had was raised.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” Maxwell said. “I haven’t fought in front of a crowd for about two years and I have dreamt of this since I was a kid. I felt the judges were scoring my cleaner shots.”
He said that he would be happy to give Ennis-Brown a rematch, but said there would be no difference in the result.
“He’s a good competitor, but it would be the same again,” Maxwell said. “I just feel I have the beating of him.”
Carl Frampton, working as a pundit for BT Sport, was flabbergasted, though.
“The only people in this place who thought he won that was his corner and the three judges,” Frampton said. “I’m baffled.”
Ennis-Brown came in as defending champion, but his career had largely gone under the radar. He won the titles by beating Philip Bowes 11 months ago and also has a win over then future, now former Chris Jenkins on his record.
There was no shortage of bad blood between the pair as they shoved each other at a face-off this week, but the style-clash meant this was never likely to be a war.
Maxwell twice boxed Vasyl Lomachenko in the amateurs and once Josh Taylor but he struggled to lay a glove on Ennis-Brown early on, as the champion bounced around at distance and hardly engaged.
In the fourth round, a clash of heads caused a nasty looking cut over Ennis-Brown’s right eye and it seemed to dis-spirit Ennis-Brown. Maxwell was not doing much, but he began to get closer with right, as the action got scrappy and Akeem-Ennis seemed to lose his rhythm.
But if Maxwell was starting to get confident, Ennis-Brown stepped up a level at the end of the seventh round, moving in and out and landing a series of good shots in the prolonged assault, which made Maxwell look very one-paced.
Another clash of heads in the ninth round, left Maxwell with a bad cut on his left eyelid and, while that sparked a mini revival from Maxwell, he was running out of time.
He finally landed a good, clubbing right in the last round, but his successes seemed to be too few and far between.
The judges, however, went for Maxwell. Marcus McDonnell and Steve Gray scored it 116-113, while John Latham had it 115-114. Ian John Lewis was the referee.
The British super-flyweight title remains vacant after Ijaz Ahmed and Quaise Khademi battled to a draw over 12 rounds for the title in an off-TV fight on the show.
Ahmed had claimed a narrow majority points decision when the pai met for minor WBO and IBF belts in February, but with the vacant British title on the line in the rematch, it turned into a war.
One judge went for Khademi, 115-114, one for Ahmed, 115-113, with the deciding vote for a draw, 114-114.
English bantamweight champion Liam Davies made short work of Ghana’s Raymond Commey, stopping him in the second of a scheduled eight.
Davies towered over Commey and he kept the Ghanaian on the end of a stiff jab for the first round, but stepped things up quickly in the final 30 seconds of the second round. He hurt Commey with a right, then landing another right around the ear, before a crushing left hook that sent him tumbling back into the ropes when another right sent him to the canvas.
He beat the count and was willing to go on, but he looked unsteady on his feet and referee Sean Messer wisely waved it off at 2:52.