Steve burns midnight oil to win

BOXING: Bramford light heavyweight Steve Spartacus made a very low key debut for this new promoters Sports Network with a late night four rounds points victory.

BRAMFORD light heavyweight Steve Spartacus made a very low key debut for this new promoters Sports Network with a late night four rounds points victory.

He defeated experienced Stoke man Darren Ashton, at Manchester's MEN Arena on Saturday evening to take his unbeaten record to six.

It was just a few minutes from midnight when the fighters quietly entered the ring at the tailend of a mammoth fight card that had earlier in the evening seen local favourite Ricky Hatton hold on to his WBU light welterweight title with a second-round knock-out of highly rated American Freddie Pendleton.

It seem strange to see Spartacus climbing through the ropes without out his usual booming backing music but with only around 50 die-hard boxing fans left in the large, rapidly cooling arena.

The only real noises came from the TV company's road crews who were busy dismantling their sets from earlier in the evening.

Spartacus weighed in at exactly 13 stone for the fight, conceding four pounds to Ashton who usually competes in the higher cruiserweight. But he was quick to take the initiative, moving onto the front foot and finding the body of his taller opponent with a solid right hook followed by a quick left-right combination.

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The early going though was not all one way; Ashton scored with a good overhand right before Spartacus resumed his work to the body to take the opening round.

The head of Spartacus's new promoters, Frank Warren, was at ringside together with Frank Maloney, and they were both urging him on as he caught Ashton with a clubbing left hook early in the second round. The Stoke man hit the target with another overhand right but was kept at bay for the majority of the round by the busy jab of Spartacus.

Spartacus's advantage continued into the third when a jarring right to the body of Ashton was followed up a straight left to the chin that had the Stoke man grimacing.

The fourth continued in much the same fashion, Spartacus trapping Ashton on the ropes before having to take two good left hooks from the taller man.

A late left uppercut from Spartacus started Ashton's nose bleeding and the outboxed Stoke man looked relieved to hear the final bell.

Referee Keith Garrett scored every round in favour of Spartacus for a 40-36 result, but the Bramford man will be happy to return next time when, hopefully, a few more spectators will be on hand to witness his work.

It was nearly quarter past midnight when the boxers left the ring and amazingly there was still one fight to go, fans of Sheffield's Ryan Rhodes and Walsall's Jason Collins had been in their seats over seven hours waiting to see their favourites.

Spartacus will now be looking to start working his way up the pecking order of Warren's huge stable of fighters.