Sedgefield boxer Bradley Saunders taken distance in Liverpool, wins for De Gale, Groves, Joshua, Smith & Quigg

WINNER: Bradley Saunders
WINNER: Bradley Saunders

BRADLEY Saunders was taken the distance for only the third time as he made it win number 11 as a professional.

The 28-year-old, making his debut for Eddie Hearn after signing last week for Matchroom, outpointed Ivans Levickis after six lively rounds at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

Referee John Latham scored it 60-54 as Saunders run of five straight early wins.

Saunders admitted to a little frustration to having been taken to the final bell by the 22-year-old Latvian.

“To be fair, I’m always looking for the stoppage, but I’ve only really been in the gym the last few weeks,” said the Sedgefield light-welterweight.

“He was very tough and he could punch.”

Promoter Hearn was not upset at the night’s work from his new signing.

“Tonight it was short notice that was his first fight in almost six months,” he said at ringside in an interview with Sky Sports Pay-per-view.

“It was great to get him out and we expect big things in 2015.”

On the undercard, former Olympic hero Anthony Joshua stopped Michael Sprott inside the first round of their heavyweight clash.

James DeGale produced an explosive third-round stoppage over Marco Antonio Periban at the Echo Arena.

His opponent had never been stopped but DeGale changed all that with a ferocious assault, landing two huge lefts to finish the Mexican.

Another super-middle, Callum Smith, dominated Nikola Sjekloca over 12 rounds to successfully defend his WBC international crown in a world title eliminator.

George Groves was less impressive, though he did stop America’s Dennis Douglin in seven rounds.

Earlier, Scott Quigg defended his WBA super-bantamweight title for the fifth time with a wide points win over Hidenori Othake, from Japan.