12 June 2010 – By Steve Wellings
Stephen Haughian suffered title heartache as he dropped a ten-round decision to experienced Scottish southpaw Kevin McIntyre for the Celtic welterweight belt, in the chief support bout at the Kings Hall.
Indeed, the venue has proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for the Lurgan man who suffered his only other professional loss there, going down controversially on points to Giammario Grassellini in 2007. While that loss was narrow, this time there was little to argue about as former British champion McIntyre offered Stephen a harsh welcome to the next level.
Haughians aggressive start was counteracted my McIntyres smooth boxing, circling the ring using the southpaw jab and straight left hand to full effect. The Irishman had plenty of vocal support in the arena and despite opening a cut over Kevins left eye he was coming off second best by the middle rounds.
A sustained body attack could have slowed the slick Scotsman but McIntyre was finding it easy to slip off the ropes whenever Haughian trapped him. Stephen seemed to be getting a little closer in the eighth and put up a gallant effort in the final round, hurting McIntyre with right hands and piling on the pressure.
Unfortunately it had come too late and the away man took the spoils with scores of 93-98 (Richie Davies), 94-97 (John Keane) and 93-97 (Howard Foster).
The loss is by no means the end of the road for Haughian but does come as a step back, especially considering his recent spell of inactivity and frustration at getting ring action. McIntyre will now push himself into contention for a shot at the British title he stunningly lost last year in one-round to Kell Brook.
Popular West Belfast battler Ciaran Healy ended a five-fight winless streak when snapping the undefeated slate of Harry Matthews. Healy, with Bernard Dunnes conditioning coach Alec Doherty as part of his corner team, was good value for his win as the 35-year-old stalked and pressured his opponent.
Judging by this showing it was difficult to determine how Matthews had amassed such a statistically pleasing record (9-0 going in); despite being in decent shape the visitor was running out of steam as early as the third-round.
Matthews was wide open to the right hand and Healy found no trouble landing it repeatedly as he outworked the prospect. Referee Richie Davies saw the same as the rest of us, handing the well-supported Ciaran a 58-56 win.
Following his win over Alex Sipos in Limerick last month, Cuban Luis Garcia continued to shed the ring rust with a fourth-round knockout of Welshman Nathan King.
Garcia was businesslike from the off, winging in punches on his survival-minded opponent who had recently pushed former Olympic medallist and unbeaten professional Tony Jeffries close. Luis, with Lee Beard joining Nicholas Cruz in his corner, was always in control yet it wasnt until the fourth-round that he hurt the away man and the end quickly arrived.
A sweet left-right combination sent King sprawling across the canvas and the stunned journeyman rose unsteadily, just about convincing Paul McCullagh that he was ready to resume hostilities. Moments later he was caught up in the ropes and tasting more of Garcias finest when McCullagh interceded, to no complaints from King or his corner.
Garcias compatriot Alexei Acosta is due to step-up in levels on the upcoming Cork show and Mike Perez is also scheduled to appear. Wherever the trio end up in the fight game, it is good to see them all active and finally pushing towards title opportunities.
In the depths of the undercard former WBA light-welterweight champion Gavin Rees stopped ex-Commonwealth title challenger Sam Amoako in three rounds while unbeaten Scottish southpaw Kris Carslaw outscored Ben Deghani over four rounds.
Former Prizefighter participant Gary McArthur moved to 15-1 when Yorks Graham Fearn was halted in the second round of their scheduled four-threes.