AND STILL – Dominant Tommy McCarthy makes knockout defence of European title

It looks set to be the final Matchroom card on Sky Sports but Tommy McCarthy showed there is plenty more to come at the AO Arena in Manchester tonight.

The Belfast cruiserweight retained his European title with a destruction of Alexandru Jur, looking mightily impressive in the process.

The Romanian was put down and out in the sixth of six one-sided rounds as McCarthy kept ahold of his blue belt in decisive fashion.

Jur had been knocked downed to the body in the fourth and could not deal with the range and power of the 30-year-old Irish fighter who is in the form of his career.

McCarthy came into the fight on a hot streak. Have succumbed to the bludgeoning blows of Richard Riakporhe in March 2019, the double Elite champ linked up with Pete Taylor and scored a sensational away day win over Fabio Turchi in Italy before fighting through a broken hand to beat Belgian Bilal Laggoune for the European title.

Jur found his way into the fight after the initial plan of facing Krzysztof Wlodarczyk fell through when the Pole was imprisoned for motoring offences. Two-time world champ Wlodarczyk had outpointed Jur back in 2019 in between early blow-outs versus Russian bangers Dmitry Kudryashov and Aleksei Papin. Before these trio of losses, though, Jur had claimed an impressive away day split-decision win over Juho Haapoja in Finland to take the EU title which no doubt helped him get into tonight’s match.

But there was no helping Jur once he got into the ring in Manchester, with McCarthy dominating from the first bell.

The opening round saw the West Belfast boxer snap out sharp jabs, knock Jur back with a right hand, and look dangerous with hooks.

Jur continued to be cagey in the second as McCarthy probed with constant jabs and looked to bring his right hand into play more and more.

The Romanian visitor began to fall in and hold in the third as McCarthy, in complete control, looked to do damage.

‘The Mac Attack’ mixed in some nice bodyshots in the fourth as Jur looked devoid of ambition and the first knockdown came in the closing moments of the round – a leaping left hook to the body putting Jur down. Grimacing, the Eastern European rose and saw out the round but the writing looked on the wall.

The challenger came out for the fifth but barely through a punch as McCarthy attempted to pick a finish. The Ulsterman was boxing smoothly as Jur circled the ring furiously.

Jur chopped in a right hand at the start of the sixth and McCarthy responded with a punishing succession of shots of his own. It was all upstairs before another left hook caught the retreating Jur to the body and put him down for the count.

The inside-the-distance win sees McCarthy improve to 18(9)-2(1) while the outclassed and outgunned Jur drops to 19(7)-5(3)

Continental belt retained, McCarthy now sits in a good position within the division. The Irishman has been linked to all four world champions – Arsen Goulamarian (WBA), Mairis Briedis (IBF), Lawrence Okolie (WBO), Ilunga Makabu (WBC) – but a fight closer to home versus Commonwealth champion Chris Billam Smith now appears to be his team’s plan.

A rematch with Riakporhe is also an avenue that could be explored while Turchi is keen for a repeat. Wherever and whoever is next, McCarthy will be going into the fight in career-best form.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie

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