After a long road to recovery, boxer Stan Stannard hit back to land the East Midlands Elite Middleweight Challenge belt.
Surgery on his left hand kept the Harby boxer sidelined for nine months, Stan finally stepped into the ring to fight for the vacant belt.
Following a couple of low-key warm-up bouts to shake off the cobwebs, this was the opportunity to salvage something from a terrible year which also saw him denied a national belt by a badly-cut eye following a clash of heads.
Stannard’s opponent at the Liberal Club, in Arnold, was 25-year-old Sam Spooner (Bulwell Boxing Club), a seasoned and useful fighter with some good wins on his record.
The opening round saw both boxers feel their way into the contest until Stannard caught his opponent off balance with a good left-hand punch, putting his man on the canvas.
The referee, however, being on the wrong side of the boxers and unsighted, deemed it a slip.
Now aware of Stannard’s power, Spooner became defensive, but the 21-year-old continued to pile on the pressure and took the first round.
In the next, Stannard hunted Spooner down with right-left combinations, getting through almost every time to take the round.
A desperate Spooner tried every trick to unsettle the Leicestershire fighter in the third and final round, swinging wildly and looking for the big punch.
But Stannard remained calm and focussed, picking off his opponent with accurate and stinging punches and finishing the bout looking fluent and accomplished.
A unanimous points victory saw Stannard crowned the new champion.
The result was vindication and reward for a lot of hard work in recovering from a serious hand injury and he thanked his sponsors for their belief and support though a very difficult time.
Stannard’s next outing will be in the Box Cup, at Grantham, in July.