Hartlepool boxer Daniel Cope set for re-match with Tom Whitfield after titanic derby

AGONY AND ECSTASY: Daniel Cope is distraught and Tom Whitfield overjoyed after Sunday's big derby. Picture by JOE SPENCE
AGONY AND ECSTASY: Daniel Cope is distraught and Tom Whitfield overjoyed after Sunday's big derby. Picture by JOE SPENCE

DANIEL Cope missed out on derby glory in the boxing ring – but the Hartlepool star could soon get the chance to avenge his first pro defeat.

The 24-year-old was edged out by Tom Whitfield in a titanic six-round showdown of the unbeaten welterweights at Houghton yesterday.

I thought it could have gone either way, it was that close, and to me it was one of those bouts where there was no loser.

PHIL JEFFRIES, PROMOTER

Friends as well as rivals, the North-East neighbours slugged it out in the “fight of the night”, which referee Steve Hawkins awarded to Whitfield 58-57.

Promoter Phil Jeffries told SportMail he will be looking to stage a re-match, potentially for the Northern Area title, on his next show in May.

“That fight has got to go again,” said the Wearside fight figure.

“I thought it could have gone either way, it was that close, and to me it was one of those bouts where there was no loser.

“Both lads are winners in my eyes,

“I think boxing fans love derbies and everyone in Rainton Meadows Arena loved that bout.

“It was the best fight of the night and I want to put it on again.”

To say it was an exciting battle would be an understatement.

Whitfield took the early rounds before Cope came back strongly, only for the 28-year-old to take the last round and snatch victory.

It was a blow to the Gus Robinson Developments camp, but Cope will be back.

“That won’t do Daniel’s career any harm,” said head coach and dad, Peter Cope Snr. “It was a great fight, a proper, proper derby, which could have gone either way.

“If it had been a draw, I don’t think there would have been any complaints.

“We’re in talks already for a re-match, possibly for a title.

“Even people who have no allegiance to Daniel or Tom were up on their feet, cheering.

“For both lads to pull out a fight like that in only their third contests says so much about them.”

It was a tricky fight to score, a clash of styles between Cope’s all-out aggression and Whitfield’s smoother boxing.

Whitfield’s coach, Mal Gates, believes his boxer carried the extra bit of quality to get the victory.

“Credit to the Copes who were very gracious in defeat but I just think Tom had a little bit more polish,” he said. “I think too his experience came to the fore – he had 85 fights as an amateur and I think that helped him.”

Whitfield did have that extra know-how and he also possessed the greater reach which proved crucial at Colossal show.

The former Birtley ABC man, who stands 6ft 1in, used his long arms to great effect in the opening two rounds.

Cope may have been the more aggressive fighter but Whitfield produced the cleaner shots, using his jab effectively, while connecting with his right as well.

There had been much verbal sparring in the first two rounds with both corners arguing with the British Boxing Board of Control officials over the length of the fight.

Finally, confirmation came that the bout was six rounds instead of the four announced by MC Brian Houshby.

That news seemed to bring the best out of Cope who began the third with greater purpose.

After walking onto a number of shots in the first six minutes of action, Cope began to force Whitfield back and get through with a good volume of shots, especially with his right.

Whitfield landed two good rights in round four, but it was his defence which was key as the exciting Poolie upped the pressure.

After four rounds, it read all square on this reporter’s very unofficial scorecard.

The penultimate session was an absolute belter with the three minutes of action proving pretty impossible to pick a winner.

Cope again did the pressing with a sustained assault and while Whitfield could not match his rival’s quantity there was certainly quality from his gloves.

I had my scores dead level at 57-57 going into the last and it was Whitfield who took the round with some sharp shots to the head of his rival.

But there was no disgrace for Cope, who will be back and it could be very soon indeed.