James McGivern won the ultimate clash of styles in real style to collect his first career title in Letterkenny tonight.
The Belfast boxer was matador to the brave bull that was Josh Standford over eight rounds and eventually celebrated BUI lightweight Celtic title success courtesy of a points win on the Rumble in the Hills card.
It wasn’t that the Ormeau Road talent waltzed to an easy victory, he had to work for it against the previously unbeaten Scot.
The 25-year-old never had things all his own way, was cut, and dropped rounds en route to hard-earned title success. However, he had answers to all the hard questions asked of him and proved he has grit and well as plenty of guile.
It was grueling on occasion but there were flashes of real brilliance from the southpaw, as he collected a 78-74, 78- 75, 79-72 win and heard And The New for the first time since he became a pro.
James McGivern is the new BUI Celtic Lightweight title, beating Josh Sandford by unanimous decision. Great battle, both men cut. Scores were 79-73 78-74 and 78-75. #RumbleInTheHills— BoxingUnionOfIreland (@boxingunionIRL) November 18, 2023
Standford marched forward from the off, looking wing in big shots and bully the Belfast man when he could.
However, McGivern all but welcomed the aggressive approach, as it allowed him show the skills he is renowned for and display the kind of work it’s hard to show against journeymen opponents.
It was pure style as the southpaw hit and moved successfully across the first six minutes and further frustrated the Scot by holding anytime they were up close.
At that stage, there were ring-side concerns as to whether McGivern could keep the away fighter off for eight but a snappy combination right on the bell showed there was power to go with the panache the 25-year-old possesses.
A straight down the pipe one-two had Standford shaking his head in the next, the gesture was interpreted by the McGivern corner as a sign he was beginning to hurt the bull-like battler.
By the start of the fourth the former Irish amateur standout had the East Killbride native cut. Another fast-fire old-school one-two also looked as if it rattled the 28-year-old Standford and he retreated for the first time in the fight.
Although he did finish the round pinning McGivern to the ropes and looking to land big left hooks.
The pace slowed somewhat over the next three minutes affording McGivern more space to work and pick shots but Standford was proving awkward and landed some solid right hands.
It was sheer delight for the crowd as the fight passed through six with the Sheer Sports fighter playing matador to the bull, up on his toes, checking hooking off and peppering in shots from a safer distance.
Standford still looked dangerous and there were moments of wrestling between the two blood-stained foes, but the home support were buoyed by how McGivern finished the round.
Standford did get a second wind in the seventh and made it a difficult session for the Commonwealth Games medal winner but McGivern was back on his toes keeping it crisp and long to good success in the final round. Although the pair did finish in close quarters throwing shots!