Double ABA champion and former England amateur Matthew Marsh (10-1, 1 KOs) claimed the British super-bantamweight title with a dominant performance over ex-European champion Esham Pickering (22-7, 13 KOs).
South Londoner Marsh won via unanimous points decision against the defending champion at Bethnal Green’s ‘Home of Boxing’, York Hall.
Marsh’s energetic display was more than enough to win on points with the scorecards reading 117-111; 116-113; 115-113.
It was only Marsh’s 11th fight as a professional and best performance of his career to rip the Lonsdale belt away from the former European and Commonwealth champion.
The 25-year-old from Welling, trained by Johnny Eames and Peter Swinney, was dominant from the first bell, far busier and alert than the experienced champion, landing more punches with his impressively high output.
It took Pickering, a world title contender, until round four to get into the contest, but he struggled to impose himself on the Londoner after a very slow start, courtesy of Marsh’s clever tactics and astounding work rate.
Marsh, a two-weight Southern Area titlist, came out firing from the opening bell and stamped his authority on the fight with several big right hands that disorientated the seasoned pro from Newark, who was hoping to eventually clinch the Lonsdale belt outright with a second successful defence.
But in a bout that was fought at close range, the all-action challenger was often first to the punch with Pickering’s timing looking awry.
The champion did score some success when landing to the body but all too often the 31-year-old was put on the back foot from stiff combinations from his younger opponent.
Marsh was able to land beautiful combinations to the body frequently without getting hit back in what was a wonderful boxing display from the spirited 25-year-old.
Pickering came on strong in the middle rounds after a terrible start and looked like he could begin to take over the fight, but Marsh would gather his strength and fire back in bursts and even cut his older opponent under his right eye in the fifth round.
In the seventh stanza, Marsh came back into the driving seat with some powerful shots, winging beautiful hooks to the midsection and head, one after another as he drove Pickering back to the ropes.
With the home crowd behind him, Marsh seemed to take his game into another gear, driving forth some tremendous shots that Pickering just couldn’t find an answer for.
The eighth and ninth rounds saw both fighters taking turns in dishing out a battering, with the entertaining battle see-sawing one way, then back another.
It was Marsh, however, who would finish the rounds strongest, forcing the Nottinghamshire man back to the ropes where he peppered him with unceasing shots.
In the 10th round, Marsh staggered ‘Brown Sugar’ early on with a huge right hand, then proceeded to tag him with a rain of shots in the final two minutes of the round while trying valiantly to take him out.
Though he was unable to finish Pickering off, as referee Mickey Vann kept a close watch, he put an exclamation point on his victory with the strong finish to the fight, leaving no question marks for the three ringside judges who all ruled in the challenger’s favour.
The youth and energy prevailed over the age and experience, but ultimately, young Marsh just wanted it more and fought the best fight of his short career to rip away the beautiful British belt from the champion, who just couldn’t match him for his commitment and heart.