Anthony Cacace finally put Lyon Woodstock in his rearview mirror thanks to a quality-laden performance on the ‘Night Of Champions’ card in the Birmingham Arena tonight.
Over a year after the pair were initially scheduled to trade leather and on the fourth agreed date the Belfast super-featherweight showed he was levels above the former Commonwealth title challenger on top of a BT Sports bill.
There was confidence and pure class from a fighter often heralded as one of Ireland’s most naturally gifted fighters.
In fact, the mercurial talent retained his British super feather title displaying the kind of unique ability that prompts many deep within Irish boxing circles to argue he has world title capabilities.
Cacace dropped and outboxed the aptly named ‘Lion’ to come away with a 117-110, 117-110, 117-111 points win, his title and his reputation greatly enhanced.
Some will take into account Woodstock’s brave approach made him tailor-made the former Irish champion but even at that Cacace was standout.
His shot selection, control of distance, general ring IQ and natural ability helped him shine under the added spotlight brought by topping the bill – and should ensure he remains a headline act on BT Sports.
‘The Apache,’ as he predicted, showed no signs of ring rust or ill effects from a nigh on two year lay off. The 32-year-old had timing and distance down from round one, his skill set proving too much for the aggressive Woodstock.
After winning the first he applied some early pressure in the second and let loose with flurries over the first minute of the stanza. It not only confirmed his superiority but was the first hint a stoppage may be on the cards.
A beautiful uppercut landed in a Cacace won third further highlighted the difference between a determined challenger and a classy champ.
In the fourth Cacace showed the kind of skill and power those who spar him, including BT pundit Carl Frampton often laud him for, by dropping ‘The Lion’ with a beautifully timed left hook, a shot that was called for by his corner between rounds.
However, to his credit the ever game Woodstock rose to his feet and appeared keen to fight on. In fact he came out in the fifth throwing and trying to force the issue but the Belfast fighter was happy to make him miss and pay. By the end of the sixth, it was apparent Woodstock would need something special to win the fight.
As advertised he continued to try to press the action but the British title hopeful continued to punish his advances. The pattern continued, as a guile versus guts affair developed. The marked-up Leicester man was showing heart but he had no answers for the class and quality of the champ.
Cacace had the distance measured and his punch selection and switch-hitting approach emphasized his class – not to mention the fighter who has admitted to not always living the life showed no signs of tiring.
In fact, he looked a gear change away from a stoppage, the Harry Hawkins trained fighter stepped on the clutch in the eleventh and moved up a gear but again Woodstock showed why he is called ‘The Lion’.
By the final round even Cacace fans would have been happy to see Woodstock’s bravery rewarded by seeing the final bell and so it was.
The performance and the platform it played out on more so than the result should open doors for the Belfast fighter and it will be interesting to see what Frank Warren has planned for him next.
While Cacace closed the show in style Willo Hayden opened it with another Irish win, registering a points victory over six rounds on his debut.