Craig ‘Spider’ Richards forced a seventh-round stoppage of a dogged Boris ‘The Blade’ Crighton on Saturday night at the Indigo at London’s O2 Arena.
The Crystal Palace man oozed confidence throughout the bout, staying composed in the opening rounds and utilising his left jab to control the direction of the fight.
Crighton remained determined and showed signs of quality, but ultimately as the fight went on, the outcome of Spider’s hand being held-high was inevitable.
Richards said: “It felt good to be back – I thought if I can make the difference and get the stoppage after two years, it shows where I’m at.”
After the fight, Chairman of Matchroom Sport Eddie Hearn hinted at a potential light heavyweight showdown against fellow Londoner Anthony Yarde.
On Saturday night, Yarde stopped Marko Nikolic after three rounds with a vicious body shot at the Copper Box Arena in London.
The aftermath of the fight, however, seemed to tee up a more likely scenario in which Yarde faces Joshua Buatsi.
Yarde spoke to NoSmokeSport after his fight on a potential clash with Richards.
He said: “We both said from early that we wouldn’t fight each other unless they’re paying us millions.
“So, unless his promoter is paying him over one million and my promoter is paying me over two million, me and Craig aren’t fighting each other.”
Speaking to BBC Sport, Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom said there was no better opponent for Joshua than Yarde.
Tale of the tape
“Guess who’s back, back again? Shady’s back, tell a friend…” filled the air at The O2 as Richards walked out to the ring following his 21-month hiatus.
There was a sense of change, like the turn of a new leaf, as the former world challenger stepped through the ropes with new trainer Shane McGuigan in his corner for the first time.
With 12 wins and four defeats to his record before the fight, a well-travelled Crighton was by no means an easy test for Richards.
The Glaswegian has fought big fights, with losses via decision to the likes of Lyndon Arthur and Callum Simpson adding a wealth of experience to his locker.
Richards got behind his jab in the early rounds, while The Blade, although looking sharp, looked like he was trying to to get the job done quickly by teasing numerous overhand rights.
In the third, Crighton found success with his right hand, but it was Spider who controlled the tempo and pace with his left hand, sizing the Glaswegian up.
It was clear to see the 33-year-old’s confidence at the start of the bout as he cleared any signs of ring rust, finding his rhythm while continuing to control the direction of the fight.
Crighton, however, kept coming back and after four rounds it definitely looked like he belonged in there at times with Richards, whose last fight ended in a close decision loss to Joshua Buatsi.
Friends and family sang: “There’s only one Craig Richards,” as he continued to find luck with the left hook and jab to the body of Crighton in the fifth.
Crighton was able to respond well with his right hand, looking very fit and strong, but he found himself back-pedalling towards the end of round five when he was forced into the corner for the first time right before the bell.
Richards would’ve been thankful for McGuigan when he kindly reminded referee Howard Foster that his fighter had started the sixth round with no mouthguard.
But that didn’t stop Spider from pushing on as he kept finding the body, potentially opening up his powerful right hand to emerge in the later rounds.
We then moved to the seventh when Richard’s constant pressure was relentless and it only looked like a matter of time before his body shots would start to seriously hurt the 30-year-old.
A right hand and left hook combination floored Crighton halfway through the round, but ‘The Blade’ found his feet and the referee allowed him to box on.
Not long after, Richards continued to power through the gears and two successful right hooks had Crighton stumbling.
The white towel then emerged from the Glaswegian’s corner two minutes and 52 seconds into round number seven, and Richards’ hand was raised.
An active 2024 for Craig Richards
Lethal, consistent body shots paired with an overall edge in terms of experience handed Richards the win, who was back with a bang!
It was the south-east Londoner’s 18th win as a professional boxer, and after the fight he looked ahead to an active 2024.
Richards said: “Boris is a really tough guy and I still got the job done.
“It’s the longest I’ve been out amateur or pro, so I wanted to get the rounds in.
“Onto bigger fights now, straight back into the gym, there are a lot of things Shane has taught me and today I showed little snipper to build off that.
“2024 let’s get it!”
Hearn said: “It was a great opponent and great test for him.
“He was actually getting chin checked and really got rid that rust tonight.”
In the main event at the Indigo on Saturday night, Reece Bellotti beat Liam Dillon in an all-out war over 12 rounds to become the British and Commonwealth super-featherweight champion.
The judges scored the contest 117-111, 117-112 and 116-112 in what turned out to be a mega fight, with an incredible display of quality boxing.
On the undercard, 20-year-old Cameron Vuong from Blyth proved too much for Ishmael Ellis in the co-main, stopping him two minutes and 32 seconds into round number six.
Vuong said: “I want to be on the big shows, I’m looking forward to the futre and we’re going to have a massive 2024.”
In the super flyweight women’s division, Watford’s Shannon Ryan overcame Jasmina Zapotoczna with a nasty cut to earn the WBA super flyweight International belt.
Ryan won via unanimous decision in a closely-fought contest to make it seven wins from seven.
She said: “I’ve worked hard and I deserve this belt.
“Top respect to Jasmina, but I’ve proved I can dig deep and overcome adversity.”