LEE SELBY battled through blood, sweat and tears to retain his IBF featherweight world title just four days after his mum tragically died.
The Welsh warrior somehow managed to not only step through the ropes and fight in her honour, but school a former WBA world champion in solid Jonathan Barros, with a heavily bleeding eye.
Over a dozen rounds – even with the gash from a clash of heads – with heartbreak surely haunting the Barry man, Selby ran away with the fight 119-108 and 117-110 twice.
Selby should have fought the Argentine veteran in January but he controversially failed pre-fight medicals, with blood tests allegedly showing up hepatitis A, in a cloudy incident.
But the result here was crystal clear as Selby – in front of ringside guest Carl Frampton who he hopes to fight next – ran rings around the south American in a show of incredible grit.
In the opening four rounds Selby boxing like a man that has blocked out every other thought imaginable to get this job done.
Emotionless and dead-eyed in there as he evaded Barros and picked him off with venom.
In the fifth the challenger clumsily lunged in and the 30-year-old manhandled him to the floor, using the Barros’ unfortunate momentum to sling him to the canvas in an act of dominance.
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A trickle of blood started above Selby’s right eye toward the end of the fifth – the result of a skull collision.
But by the time the bell came it was a crimson stream tracing down his cheek and defining his jawline, in a worry for his corner.
The veteran brawler marched forward in the desperate hunt for his second world title but the Argentine would have needed both of God’s hands as Selby danced around London.
Barros was not bloody but his razor-sharp cheekbones carried deep marks, sure signs of relentless pounding from the arrow-like Selby jab that could put any hook or uppercut out of business.
The Champ demonstrated his comfort and skill with a southpaw switch in the eighth – if only to signal high and wide to the judges that he felt no pressure.
And in the following round he was almost showboating with outrageous subtlety.
Anyone thrilled by two men screaming b**** at each other in the exact same spot 24 hours earlier would have been bored to tears by the understated ring craft Selby produced in a masterclass.
There was even time for a crunching left hook to send the visitor sprawling to the canvas, though he made the count and finished on his feet.
Selby’s arm was raised, his hardest fight was won. His mother would have been very proud.
MARTIN J WARD defended his British super feather-weight title and grabbed the vacant commonwealth strap from Anthony Cacace’s grasp in a beauty of a battle.
The pair went toe-to-toe in a 12-round marathon of machismo, just seconds after watching fellow fighter Robbie Davies Jnr leave the arena on a hospital stretcher.
The Brentwood man emerged victorious on a narrow unanimous decision, taking his tally to 18 wins, on the judges’ cards.
There had been plenty of needle between the pair on social media in the build-up to the fight.
So much in fact that fight fans were surprised their final weigh-in on Friday went off without any fireworks.
The explosives were saved for the ring as the two men went to war; Ward grafting like a worker bee and Cacace looking for that one show-stopping punch.
There were doubts over Cacace’s commitment and stamina earlier in his career – with his natural talent in no doubt – but he proved he is taking the fight game seriously with this dogged performance.
For 12 rounds there was almost nothing to divide the pair – only what the judges deemed to be the better style.
Going into the final three minutes the fight could have gone either way – with no one inside Wembley arena envying the judges who had to take away one man’s unbeaten record.
As the final bell rang both man cuddled and raised their arms aloft – Ward was hoisted onto the shoulders of his cornerman in one final effort to sway the judges.
All three handed it to the 25-year-old with 115-114, 116-114, 116-113 scores.
Nathanael Wilson cruises past Yaddollah Ghasemi
CHRIS EUBANK’S other son Nathanael Wilson got the family reunion off to a perfect start with a second-round win on his half-brother’s undercard on Saturday night.
Wilson is Eubank Snr’s son from an early relationship that went unmentioned for 27 years, until a recent reconciliation.
The two Chris Eubanks and Wilson all met up on Wednesday for their first ever face-to-face meet and the family affair got off ideally on Saturday night.
Wilson, a Croydon fighter coming into the game late in life, had it all his own way with heavy right hands and left hooks causing his opponent Yaddollah Ghasemi problems.
The super-lightweight star looked like a chip off the old bloke and even sounded like his dad when he unloaded heavy shots.
And after just 1.48min of the second round the referee stepped in and stopped the one-sided onslaught.
Eubank Snr was ringside to watch his offspring – nicknamed Bank Notes – take his growing record to 4-0-1.
Wilson – who took his mother’s maiden name growing up in south London where his family connections made him a target for trouble – got his man out with minimal fuss.
And he can no look forward to more fights under his father’s guidance to keep the family business thriving.
KID GALAHAD made a serious point in his effort to land a world title shot, after losing one for a hat-trick of low-blows.
The Sheffield star went to 23-0 with a 10th round stoppage of rock-solid Jose Cayetano to claim the vacant IBF intercontinental featherweight title.
The British star left if late and might have been nervous going to the judges having had a point chalked off for hitting below the belt three times.
With Kell Brook in the arena to offer his pal support, Galahad did not disappoint as he dominated the fight from start to finish.
Galahad’s jab dictated the fight in the opening rounds as the Mexican was marched around all four corners of the ring but lashed out as best he could on the back foot.
After an early warning to shots to Cayetano’s knackers, Galahad targeted the body and wore his man down as they approached six minutes.
In the third Cayetano tried going southpaw but failed to fool Galahad whose biggest mistake was a second low blow.
And by round five he was finally punished with a point off his tally as the brave Cayetano battled on with bruised plums.
Finally, in the tenth round, the referee jumped in to stop the beat-down and hand Galahad another win.