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'Hagler' cools Hylton to reach Contender semis

Published:Saturday | May 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer

Popular veteran Ian 'Hagler' Smith moved into the semi-final of the Wray & Nephew Contender welterweight championship on Wednesday night with an impressive showing, which earned him a unanimous six-round decision over Kevin Hylton at the Chinese Athletic Club auditorium.

The eagerly awaited contest between the two, who were involved in a controversial middleweight clash last year which ended in Hagler's disqualification, lived up to expectation.

With Hagler intent on keeping his cool and Hylton aggressively intent on scoring a big win, the non-stop action had the crowd on its feet all the way through.

Hylton came out blazing, pushed Hagler on the defensive and actually won the round on one of the three scorecards. But the fit 45-year-old veteran stepped up the pace, and showing greater in-fighting skills on the ropes and picking his punches well, kept his younger opponent defending most of the way.

Furious counter-punching

Hylton did, however, occasionally force Hagler into retreat with furious counter-punching and had the sell-out crowd cheering wildly when he pulled out all the stops to win the final round. But Hagler's overall dominance saw judge Luke Irons, 59-55, and judges Lindell Allen and Clifford Brown, 58-56, all giving him the nod.

The series takes a break next week as the four semi-finalists - Donovan Campbell, Ramel Lewis, 'Hagler' and Ronald Holmes - get ready for their eight-round contests, which will see Campbell and Holmes meeting on May 13 and 'Hagler' and Lewis on May 23.

The exciting made-for-television series is promoted by MJK Productions, approved by the Jamaica Boxing Board and sponsored by J. Wray & Nephew, Foska Oats and TVJ.

The winner of the series will take home one million dollars, the runner-up $500,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000.

In last Wednesday's amateur preliminaries, Remahl Lewis pulled off a decisive upset victory over Everton Eccleston in a light-heavyweight contest, while Chevon Martin halted Nico Yeyo's winning streak in their welterweight three-rounder.

With Hagler intent on keeping his cool and Hylton aggressively intent on scoring a big win, the non-stop action had the crowd on its feet all the way through.