In his first defence of the Lonsdale belt that he won way back in November 2016, Birmingham’s Tommy Langford (20-1) got his tactics spot on to defeat mandatory challenger Jack Arnfield (25-3) on points at the Manchester Arena on February 17.
It was a closely contested match between two similar styles, with the busy Langford having the snappier shots and superior skills to bag most of the rounds.
The opening segment was a chess match, as expected, between the two technical titlists. The Bideford-born champion was in complete control of the contest although it was very nip and tuck in the first-half of the fight.
Arnfield's trademark swift jab was his most succesful shot but the 'Baggies Bomber’ had a greater punch variety, letting his hands go far more often than his challenger did, and looked comfortable on the front foot and back foot whenever he had to adapt.
With just 12 KO’s between their 47 combined bouts going into the contest, neither fighter looked likely to end proceedings early despite the champion rocking the challenger with a perfect right hook in round eight.
Langford, 28, was always busier and looked every bit the champion throughout, and scores of 116-113 twice and 117-113 were completely fair.
Blackpool’s Arnfield, 28, was graceful in defeat and still has his WBA International strap that he snatched from John Ryder in 2016 and defended twice to Mick Hall (13-1) and Brian Rose (29-5-1) in 2017.
Langford has separated himself from the rest of the domestic pack with his latest win, with just world title contender Martin Murray (36-4-1) and WBO king Billy Joe Saunders (26-0) above him in the British rankings, who are due to clash in April.
The former England amateur captain could be due to defend his title for a second time to Oldham’s Marc Heffron (18-0) next or he may have his sights set on the vacant European title due to be contested between Italian Alessandro Goddi (33-2-1) and unbeaten Pole Kamil Szeremeta (16-0) next week.
Post-fight, Langford praised his fans, “Just want to say a massive thanks to all my West Brom and Devon fans for your support, I hope I’ve given you something to cheer about. Would also like to say thank you to Jack Arnfield for a great fight. Real gent and proper man in defeat.”