It's a perfect ten for Spartacus
PUBLISHED: 14:46 16 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010
BOXING: Bramford light heavyweight Steve 'Spartacus' Smith turned in a fine performance at Bethnal Green's York Hall to take his unbeaten professional record into double figures with a convincing win over old adversary Kelvin Stonestreet.
Bramford light heavyweight Steve 'Spartacus' Smith turned in a fine performance at Bethnal Green's York Hall to take his unbeaten professional record into double figures with a convincing win over old adversary Kelvin Stonestreet.
Spartacus' third round stoppage of his old adversary was the tenth win of his promising career and may have earned the Suffolk star a shot at the vacant southern area light heavyweight title in the process.
Spartacus was quick to praise his opponent who described as possibly "a little too game for his own good".
He added: "I took my time, I didn't want to blow myself out, I thought I was going to knock him out earlier."
And trainer Tony Sims admitted he was pleased with the increased hand speed of his hopeful.
"That was all that was needed," he said.
Tunbridge Wells-based Stonestreet, who lost on points to Spartacus over four rounds at Chigwell 18 months ago, stepped in as a 24-hour substitute opponent.
Stonestreet accepted a rematch after the late withdrawals of Shpetin Hoti and then Hull heavyweight Tony Booth. But he was always going to be up against a fighter raring to go after eight months on the sidelines.
Spartacus, making his first appearance since outpointing Stoke's Darren Ashton at the same East London venue in January, had spent the intervening months in both Europe and the USA sparring with some of the sports leading lights whilst also taking time to overcome a couple of niggling injuries.
The gladiator entered the arena at the end of an evening in front of a thinning crowd that had earlier seen the return to the UK of ex-world bantamweight champion Wayne McCullough and which had also witnessed Kevin Lear defend his WBU super-featherweight title with a six-round stoppage of Bulgarian Kirkor Kirkorov.
But there was still plenty of noisy spectators remaining, many of whom draped the upper gallery with Spartacus and Ipswich flags to retain a good atmosphere at the famous old hall.
After being led to the ring by a mini-Spartacus, in the guise of promising 12 year-old Newham boxer Michael McCarthy, Smith – weighing just one pound lighter than his opponent at 13st 1lb – moved immediately on to the front foot to catch Stonestreet with a quick left upper cut and left hook to the body before jolting him with a fast right hook to the chin.
Even at this early stage signs looked ominous for the Kent man who, after missing with a few shots of his own, returned to his corner, face reddened, with a swelling already rising under his left eye.
The sharp-punching Spartacus began the second round where he had left off in the first, rocking Stonestreet onto his heels with a series of overhand shots which now left him marked under his right eye and having to hold on momentarily.
The end appeared to have come when a busy combination ending with a slamming left hook dropped Stonestreet to the canvas. But after rising groggily he was saved by the bell.
There was to be no respite for Stonestreet in the third round of the scheduled six – another overhand right sent him down again in centre ring where he gamely rose again to beat the count of referee Seamus Dunne by a fraction of a second.
But a further flurry of punches topped by an excellent left hook-right upper cut must have left Stonestreet wishing he had stayed down.
When Smith finished off another spell of pressure with an almost nonchalant right upper cut to send him sprawling again, referee Dunne who had been hovering expectantly jumped in to call a halt with two minutes 33 seconds of the round gone.
Spartacus admitted he could do with another hard fight before a possible southern area title showdown.
"I just need to get a few good rounds under my belt, maybe a six-rounder against someone like (former rugby league professional) Paul Bonson," he said.