TOMMY Coward looked at home in the spotlight as he produced a thrilling stoppage at Doncaster Dome, writes Liam Hoden.
The Swinton light middleweight bossed his main event contest with Jay Morris on Friday night and grabbed a deserved early finish.
It provided a fitting climax to an excellent night of boxing – the first card promoted by Conisbrough’s Stefy Bull.
Coward produced the best performance of his professional career so far to refuel expectations he will achieve big things in domestic boxing.
It was a performance he needed to put in to underline his credentials as a future title contender.
At times in his seven fight professional career, Coward has appeared to be going through the motions a little.
This would not be too much of a problem for a young rookie but Coward’s sterling amateur career ensured scrutiny of his performances was always going to be intense.
And at 27, he is not blessed with the opportunity to take his time.
But there was never any inkling he would be going through the motions with Morris.
This was the performance from Coward observers have been crying out for.
Though Morris has a losing record he is known to turn in a strong performance when the mood takes him.
He ended Curtis Woodhouse’s ten fight winning run and also inflicted a first career defeat on Sheffield’s Jerome Wilson.
But he found himself up against a fired-up Coward on Friday night.
The Swinton fighter was aggressive from the first bell and dominated the first round from behind the jab.
Morris edged his way into the contest in the second round though Coward remained in control, taking his opponent apart at times with fantastic accuracy.
His jabs repeatedly found the gap between Morris’ hands while follow-up straights had the Isle of Wight fighter stunned on a few occasions.
The shots wore Morris down and set the stage for an explosive finale as the fifth round began.
Coward dismantled Morris from the bell, opening with the jab but following with everything else in his arsenal.
There was no reply from Morris and referee Howard Foster mercifully stepped in to wave off the bout.
The victory was Coward’s seventh and his third early finish.
He will be hopeful of being in possession of gold after a couple more.
Earlier on the card there were wins for Mexborough-trained fighters Connor Nixon, Ste Mac and Andy Townend while Gavin McDonnell and Maxi Hughes earned draws to maintain their respective unbeaten careers.