Evans suffers first loss in British title battle against Cardle

Evans suffers first loss in British title battle against Cardle

Blackwood’s Craig Evans (14-1, 3KO) suffered the first professional defeat of his career, losing out to St Lytham’s Scott Cardle (18-0, 5KO) in their absorbing battle for the vacant British lightweight title. A Unanimous Decision saw all three judges score the bout in favour of Cardle by a 116-112 margin on the undercard of Matchroom Sport’s ‘Rule Britannia’ show at the O2 Arena in London. Entering the ring to Stereophonics’ ‘More Life In A Tramps Vest, St Joseph’s Boxing Club’s Evans was already up against it. The 25-year-old is promoted and managed by Frank Warren, who shares a notoriously frosty relationship with Cardle’s handlers, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport. With both boxers naturally elusive counterpunchers, there were pre-fight fears that their styles may clash but they gelled from the opening bell. In a highly technical opener, the standout shots came from the Welshman as he caught Cardle with two flush southpaw straights. Evans’ rhythm was only disrupted by petty warnings from the referee, Doncaster’s Michael Alexander. Things heated up in the second round as Cardle manoeuvred Evans to the edges of the ring, where he was able to enjoy success with hooks, particularly to the body. With their lead hands on the same side, accidental head clashes were inevitable and Evans was the victim, picking up a nick over his left eyebrow. A messy third stanza, in which Cardle lifted Evans off his feet and held him in the air for 10 seconds, heated up in the final thirty seconds. A cornered Evans made the mistake of trading with Cardle and despite landing a solid left hook, he was open to an even bigger right in return that drew the reaction from a previously murmuring crowd. A slower pace in the fifth round allowed Evans to regain position at the centre of the ring and put a dent in Cardle’s momentum, which was needed to stop the rot. Despite Cardle hitting when the referee called a break and landing a low blow to Evans’ groin, his fouls still went unpunished by the officials. The final seconds of the sixth round, which Evans appeared to enjoy, proved costly as another accidental head clash opened Evan’s cut up further. It was fairly even at the halfway point but the rounds Cardle banked had undoubtedly been more convincing that Evans’. In the eighth session, Evans finally discovered his jab and it was used to pick away at Cardle’s forehead, which was leaning forward and attempting to trigger a lead. The round provided a turning point as Evans turned Cardle and piled on the pressure. An accidental elbow caused an awful cut above Cardle’s left eye and the referee didn’t state it wasn’t a punch, presumably because he missed the blow. Reduced to single shots, Cardle was victim to Evans’ elusive punches, whipped up from the waist and out of his opponent’s eye line. Evans, a 3/1 underdog in the pre-fight betting prices, was experiencing his first sustained session of success entering the championship rounds. Despite reigning as English champion, Cardle had never been past eight rounds and his work rate had significantly dipped from it’s earlier output. However, they were both in new territory in the championship rounds and it was all on the line in the final two stanzas. With claret covering the pair, it only got bloodier in the 11th as yet another accidental head clash produced another cut, this time over Evans’ opposite right eye. In the final round, Evans’ comeback appeared to end and Cardle pressed forward with the intent he’d previously applied in the opening rounds. As amateurs, Evans competed in the featherweight division and Cardle was a welterweight. Just five years ago, there was a staggering 26lbs weight difference between the two and that physical presence allowed Cardle to make the moves he needed to see Evans’ spirited effort off. The pair clashed at a press conference earlier this week and had to separated by security, adding spite to their previously respectful relationship. Cardle refused Evans’ attempted hand shake and when Evans playfully tapped his head in reply, the Englishman reacted angrily. However, both stated their respect for each other in the post-fight interview with Sky Sport’s Ed Robinson and settled their bad blood.

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