Hartlepool-Horden fighter Greg O'Neil beats Harry Matthews to win Challenge belt
Greg O'Neil justified his billing as 'The Real Deal' by beating Harry Matthews to lift his first professional title.
The Hartlepool and Horden underdog upset the York fighter on his own turf to clinch the British Promoters Classic Challenge middleweight belt.
Just a fortnight after displaying his finishing power to taste his first KO success, this time it was his staying power which clinched his maiden silverware, the referee awarding him a 77-75 victory after eight exciting rounds at the Energise Sports Centre.
Gus Robinson Developments head coach Peter Cope said: "It was a great fight and lived up to everything we thought it would be.
"Harry never gets stopped and he showed his durability against Greg's strength and power.
"It maybe wasn't a bout for the purists but that's the sort of fight you get from Greg O'Neil, raw excitement and that's why people like to watch him.
"I must give top marks to him, that was the first time he's been eight rounds.
"I had to blast him after one round for taking is foot off the gas but he kept it going and stuck it out to the end, he deserved his win.
"Harry has fought for the English title, been in with British champions and took Chris Eubank Jnr the distance, so this was a very good win for Greg."
O'Neil, buoyed by his first-round stoppage win in his first appearance for three years, made a positive start against the fighter known as 'The Pocklington Rocket'.
He did take a right to the head from the home favourite, but he had the better of the opening round as he did with the second, driving in some strong body shots.
Matthews was a neat boxer, not to mention resilient, given some of the heavy artillery he withstood, and he gained a foothold in the third and fourth rounds.
O'Neil was back at it in the fifth, forcing the 29-year-old back with an aggressive approach and landed two big rights to his opponent's head in round six.
With the former Horden ABC star showing signs of fatigue, cornermen Cope and Alan Temple roused him for a big seventh and he duly obliged with some crunching shots.
While Matthews was the neater and busier boxer in the final three minutes, O'Neil had already done the hard work and referee John Latham rewarded him with a two-point winning margin.