THE IBO world title might not be held in the highest of esteems among much of the boxing world, but Terri Harper claimed it in some style and can now press on to even bigger challenges.
Harper took out South African Nozipho Bell with one minute 25 seconds gone in the eighth round to lift the title.
The Denaby super-featherweight had already decked Bell earlier in the session with a strong square right hand which toppled the visitor in a delayed reaction.
Harper bided her time to land the same shot again and once she did, Bell’s legs betrayed her again, with referee Howard Foster waving off the count. Judges were Terry O’Connor, Leszek Jankowiak and Pawel Kardyni.
Bell landed a flush right in the first but Harper stood up to it. Terri then began to assert her authority with tactics that ultimately frustrated and broke the African down.
Harper wobbled Bell with a left hook in the third and by the fifth was demonstrating elusive boxing skills to build a lead on the scorecards.
Not content with a points win, Harper took her opportunity to end it early with a clinical and powerful finish.
With a backing of more than 400 fans, Harper seems destined for bigger arenas and titles. At just 22 there seems little need to push her on just yet, though her talent is glaringly obvious.
Someone who has operated at the highest level was making a comeback on the same Stefy Bull and Ryan Rhodes joint bill at the Magna Centre.
Two-time world title challenger Gavin McDonnell made his first appearance since losing to Daniel Roman in Chicago for the WBA super-bantamweight belt.
The Doncaster man eased back in against Devon’s Jamie Speight with a 60-54 verdict from Jamie Kirkpatrick. McDonnell was always too sharp and evasive, coasting to victory.
Also over six rounds, Mr Kirkpatrick saw Sheffield’s Nicolie Campbell winning a testing fight against former Olympian Serge Ambomo 58-57.
Rotherham-based Cameroonian Ambomo made it very tough for Campbell with rough-house tactics that seemed to unsettle him.
Campbell did his best to stay out of the way of the muscular Ambomo, boxing behind a jab and at range. But with little in the rounds, Ambomo could count himself unfortunate not to pick up a draw.
Sheffielders Levi Kinsiona and Callum Hancock made easier work of their six-rounders.
Canning Town’s Lee Hallett had a real go at denting Kinsiona’s perfect record in the sixth round but the Yorkshireman remained cool and boxed with a nice rhythm to win every round in the view of Mr Foster.
Hancock lost just one round to Darryl Sharp, who was clearly outworked throughout the bulk of the contest with the home man throwing the greater volume and eager to keep control from ring centre. Mr Kirkpatrick oversaw.
Debutants Cam Shaw and Callum Beardow made no mistakes in their first professional outings, winning every round in Mr Kirkpatrick’s view.
Shaw, from York, grew into his contest against London-based Swede Edward Bjorklund and by the time the final bell had sounded, he looked very comfortable in the pro environment.
Sheffield’s self-styled “Vanilla Gorilla” Beardow had a noisy following as he saw off Elvis Dube from Derby.
Beardow, an ABA finalist, did not go looking to wipe out the veteran and instead got minutes under his belt and an easy win.
There were four-round outings for Bull’s experienced campaigners Lee Appleyard and Jason Cunningham.
Hometown man Appleyard, a former English lightweight champion, had a good scrap against Newark’s Fonz Alexander – won every round in Mr Foster’s view.
Alexander seemed keen to stave off a 100th professional loss and gave a good account of himself, but Appleyard’s dominance was all too apparent.
Cunningham, from down the road in Doncaster, ensured Michael Mooney earned his pay cheque with a one-sided affair.
Worcester’s Mooney seemed to be blowing from the early stages with two-weight Commonwealth title-holder Cunningham hitting him with every shot in the training manual.
His toughness and Cunningham’s naturally lower weight ensured he saw out four rounds – but there must be more enjoyable ways to spend a Friday evening.
THE VERDICT: Precocious talent Terri Harper looks like she’s going to enjoy many big nights.
RESULTS: Terri Harper (130lbs), 8-0 (5), w ko 8 Nozipho Bell (128 1/2lbs), 9-3-1 (3); Nicolie Campbell (162 1/4lbs), 7-1 (2), w pts 6 Serge Ambomo (157 1/2lbs), 7-14-2 (3);Gavin McDonnell (133lbs 6oz), 21-2-2 (5), w pts 6 Jamie Speight (134lb), 15-36 (2); Callum Hancock (170lbs), 10-0 (1), w pts 6 Daryl Sharp (174lbs) 5-56-1; Levi Kinsiona (147lbs 2oz), 6-0 (1), w pts 6 Lee Hallett (147lbs), 1-19; Jason Cunningham (134lbs 5oz), 26-6 (6), w pts 4 Michael Mooney (139lbs 9oz), 9-64-2 (3); Lee Appleyard (145 1/2lbs), 15-5-1 (5), w pts 4 Fonz Alexander (147lbs 6oz), 6-100 (4); Callum Beardow (189lbs 3oz), 1-0, w pts 4 Elvis Dube (192lbs), 8-77-2 (5); Cam Shaw (130lbs 7oz), 1-0, w pts 4 Edward Bjorklund (131 1/4lbs), 1-24-1 (1).