Knockdown ends Coward's title hopes

A SIXTH round knockdown cost Tommy Coward his dream of a first professional title as he was edged out by John Wayne Hibbert.

The Swinton fighter walked onto a big right from Hibbert and slumped to the floor, tilting the balance of the British Masters welterweight title contest in the Essex’s man favour.

The two point difference at the end of round would prove vital in the final result with Hibbert winning 95-94 on referee Howard Foster’s scorecard.

Coward started well and seemed in a comfortable position after the fourth round with his superior power giving them the advantage over Hibbert who took his time to ease into the contest.

Hibbert’s work rate increased in the fifth round and he began to find gaps in Coward’s armour.

Almost every time Coward advanced, he was tagged with a short, sharp jab through the middle of the guard.

But it was a big shot through little defence that downed Coward in the sixth.

He responded well, not attempting to hide away from Hibbert and gave as good as he got for the remainder of the round.

His response was also good in the seventh but the effect of the shot had taken its toll on his energy levels.

Hibbert went into the ascendancy, producing excellent shot selection to push the fight in his favour.

And a nasty cut opened up below Coward’s left eye during the ninth that concerned referee Foster for the remainder of the fight.

It appeared entering the final round that Coward would need something big to win, in fact on the referee’s scorecard, the fight was level.

And it was Hibbert who produced the big round, showing a great deal of aggression to earn himself the title belt.

* For action photos and more analysis see the Times on Thursday June 14