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Terry Flanagan stops Orlando Cruz to retain world title

Orlando Cruz and Terry Flanagan

Orlando Cruz and Terry Flanagan

Manchester’s Terry Flanagan successfully defended his WBO lightweight belt with an eighth-round stoppage of Orlando Cruz in Cardiff.

Cruz was bidding to become the first openly gay boxer to win a world title.

But the Puerto Rican carried no real threat and showed little ambition, allowing Flanagan to control proceedings from start to finish.

On the undercard, Welsh light-middleweight prospect Liam Williams stopped game Hungarian Gabor Gorbics.

Williams, 24, was supposed to have defended his British title against Ahmet Patterson, but the Londoner was attacked while on a training run and had to withdraw.

Despite being a late replacement, the unheralded Gorbics was tough and willing but Williams’ constant pressure began to take its toll in the middle rounds.

In round eight, Williams dropped his opponent with a lethal left hook to the body and despite Gorbics hauling himself off the canvas, the referee waved the fight off.

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Liam Williams is now undefeated in 17 paid fights and could fight for a world title in 2017

In 2012, Cruz became the first professional boxer to come out as being gay while still competing.

The following year, he challenged Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight title but was stopped in the seventh round.

After a quiet first three rounds, Flanagan found his range in the fourth, during which the challenger already looked resigned to his fate.

Before the start of the sixth, Flanagan’s corner pointed out to referee Steve Gray that Cruz was not throwing any punches back.

Cruz was slightly more willing in the seventh but was dropped by a right hand in the eighth before Gray called a halt to proceedings.

“Once I hurt him, he didn’t want to know,” said the 27-year-old Flanagan.

“I think I’ll have Christmas off and spend it with my family, because I’ve just finished a 15-year camp!”

Flanagan was making the fourth defence of the belt he won last July and is now unbeaten in 32 pro fights.

Flanagan would like to fight the winner of a proposed rematch between fellow Mancunian Anthony Crolla and Jorge Linares.

Venezuelan Linares beat Crolla last September to secure the WBA lightweight title. However, Flanagan’s next fight is more likely to be a mandatory defence against unbeaten Puerto Rican Felix Verdejo.

Promoter Frank Warren said he had offered a fight to former Olympic champion Luke Campbell, who is guided by rival promoter Eddie Hearn.

“They didn’t reply, which tells you how much they want it,” added Warren.

Warren also said that Williams was ready to challenge for a world title, despite having only had 17 professional fights.

Warren also promotes Liverpool’s Liam Smith, who lost when challenging for Saul Alvarez’s WBO light-middleweight title in September.

But with Alvarez expected to move up in weight, Williams and Smith could possibly fight for the vacant belt in 2017.

Also on the bill at the Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield super-bantamweight Kid Galahad won his third fight since returning from a drugs ban, stopping Nicaraguan journeyman Reynaldo Mora in three rounds.

Former Olympian Tom Stalker was outpointed by Welshman Craig Evans, the first two fights between the pair having ended in draws.

Birmingham’s Tommy Langford beat Sheffield’s Sam Sheedy via a split decision to secure the vacant British middleweight title.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/38105211