London, Copper Box – Wembley’s Gary Corcoran won the vacant WBO Inter-Continental welterweight title by eking out a close, and controversial, 12-round split decision over previously unbeaten Larry Ekundayo of Nigeria.
The action was simply superb. Ekundayo was the boxer early on as Corcoran sought to close the gap. “The Natural” stood his ground in a classic fifth, fighting Corcoran off of him as he gave as good as he got.
That round was a harbinger of the war that was to ensue. They continued to trade over the next two rounds but Ekundayo’s shots were having a visible effect on Corcoran. One hook in the eighth appeared to open a cut over the Englishman’s left eye.
But Corcoran never stopped attacking—for better or worse. Most of the time it was for worse. A series of swift hooks in the ninth had Corcoran as dazed as a wino in the middle of the night but he survived the onslaught—only to be hurt even worse in a brutal tenth. Ekundayo poured it on, battering Corcoran with a left hook that landed throughout the fight. The Nigerian was also showing the effects of the war as swelling developed over his right eye.
They went toe to toe in the final round, each hoping to put a fitting end on the vicious back and forth. Most people thought Ekundayo should have been awarded the winner but the judges saw otherwise, turning in scores of 114-113 for the Nigerian and 115-113 and 114-113 for Corcoran.
A rematch is in order as Ekundayo loses his undefeated record, dropping to 12-1 (3 KO’s). Corcoran (17-1, 7 KO’s) is brave enough to grant him one so we hope to see that fight soon. But first, both warriors have earned the right to rest and relax after this grueling 12-round affair.