Liam Williams beats Mark Heffron as Billy Joe Saunders returns and Tommy Fury debuts
Liam Williams stopped Mark Heffron to win the British middleweight title as Billy Joe Saunders returned from a year out of the ring to win in Manchester.
Wales' Williams jabbed smartly early on and pounded Heffron with a barrage in the 10th round to force the stoppage.
Former world middleweight champion Saunders, 29, forced Ghana's Charles Adamu to retire after four rounds.
Elsewhere, Frenchman Hassan N'Dam out-pointed Britain's Martin Murray, who had said he may retire if he lost.
Murray, 36, has challenged for a world title four times but after four successive wins, fell short against a fighter who appeared well conditioned and slick, landing uppercuts throughout.
N'Dam touched down lightly to face a count from the referee at the end of the fourth round but showed good footwork over 12 rounds, scoring a majority 114-114 117-112 116-112 win, much to the surprise of Murray.
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Williams British champion again
Williams, 26, held the British title at light-middleweight in 2015 but now has it at 160lbs after a truly polished display against a fighter he had shared a visible rivalry with in the build-up.
After a first round where the Welshman showcased a strong jab, he was warned by trainer Dominic Ingle to remain patient and not launch into attacks against an undefeated and heavy-handed opponent.
But with Heffron undoubtedly behind in the bout and cut under the eye following a series of head clashes, he was caught in the 10th round, prompting Williams to spring into an attack and force a count.
Heffron found his feet but seconds later referee Howard Foster stepped in, with Williams teeing off at will and catching his rival.
"I'm a bit overwhelmed to be honest," said Williams, who now has 19 wins and a draw from 22 outings. "I don't want to sound like I am too good for the British title but I have bigger plans.
"I knew I had it in the tank. I am not saying it because we are in the same gym but I am confident anybody outside of Billy Joe Saunders I will beat at middleweight or light-middleweight."
Saunders back in action
Saunders pummelled Adamu, 41, bringing about an end to the contest after 12 minutes.
The Briton moved to 27 career wins without defeat and will look to rebuild after a frustrating year, where his team claims the use of a "common decongestant nasal spray" led to a failed doping test.
He was not allowed to defend his WBO world middleweight title in the US due to a reading returned in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada) test, prompting him to give up the belt.
Saunders would not have failed a test in the UK as the substance in question - oxilofrine - is not banned during an out-of-competition period by UK Anti-Doping.
His win over Adamu was a first outing since he dominated David Lemieux in Canada 12 months earlier and having weighed in over 170lbs for this return, he will likely now look to get back down to the 160lbs middleweight limit and chase the bigger names.
Another Fury journey begins
Elsewhere, Tommy Fury, brother of former world heavyweight champion Tyson, won 40-36 on the referee's card after a four-round contest against Latvian Jevgenijs Andrejevs, 37.
The 19-year-old boxed smartly on his debut, landing a solid right uppercut in the first round as he repeatedly stalked an opponent who now has 103 defeats from 116 bouts.
Fury said: "I'm learning. If it wasn't for the excessive holding I would have got him out of there.
"Fight by fight I'll get better. Tonight was the start of my journey. I want to be an undisputed world champion. I know it sounds stupid but I wouldn't be in the game otherwise. I'm in no rush but I'll get there."
Gorman v Dubois in 2019?
Heavyweight Nathan Gorman, who trains under former two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton alongside Fury, dominated Razvan Cojanu and cleverly negotiated a height and reach disadvantage.
Romania's Cojanu - who challenged for a world title in 2017 - took a heavy uppercut in the fifth round and the same shot was driven through his guard in the 10th, as Gorman built on a solid early pace to win 119-109 119-109 120-108 on the cards.
"Good win against a big, solid heavyweight," tweeted Gorman. "Great rounds under my belt."
Gorman, 22, now has 15 wins from 15 outings and could be moved towards a meeting with fellow Briton Daniel Dubois in 2019.