Shaun Ireland put a tough start to 2016 to bed with a composed and professional points win against Ricky Leach on Saturday.
Ireland was forced to withdraw from a fight with Tommy Chadburn due to personal reasons and then saw the same man pull out of their second date, Leach stepping in to fill the void.
And the Kent man didn’t shirk the challenge, soaking up a mountain of sharp combinations from the Westway man, taking particular punishment to the body throughout the eight rounds.
Ireland, who moved to three wins, one draw from his four fights since turning pro with the shut-out 80-72 points decision, said: “I felt good throughout the fight, I thought I paced the eight rounds really well and could’ve boxed 10 rounds.
“I hit him with all sorts, especially to the body, but he just kept coming forward.”
Ireland is now hoping it’s a case of third-time-lucky for the fight with Chadburn, but he’s ready for a rest after a long and ardous training camp.
“An official said to George (trainer George Rhodes) that he’s going to recommend me for an area title shot, but I’ll take whatever comes my way and I’ll speak to Stefy (promoter Stefy Bull) and see where we go from here.
“I think I’ll end up moving down to super bantamweight, and I’d like that fight with Chadburn next, we’ve spoken about it a lot so it would be great if that one could come off next.”
Ireland, who sadly lost his father Dave at the start of the year, dedicated his latest win to his memory.
He added: “I had a really bad start to the year, so it was just nice to be able to get in the ring, that win was for him.”
Ireland’s promoter Stefy Bull is keen that the Scarborough man bides his time and he continues to learn in each fight he goes into.
Bull is eyeing up a switch to super bantamweight and is also keen on the Chadburn dust up, while he was also impressed with how Ireland handled the longer distance.
“I’ve seen him sparring eight rounds regularly with some of the best in Britain, so I wasn’t surprised he managed the longer distance well,” said Bull.
“In the short-term, first and foremost he’ll have a bit of a rest. I am waiting to see what TV opportunities can come up, if an opportunity to get him a TV fight comes up I will try to make that happen.
“Shaun can do super bantamweight, I’m very confident he can do it. He’s only had four fights, now I’d like him to have three or four six-rounders, but we are working and building towards these kinds of fights.”
Another man who was impressed with Ireland’s performance was trainer George Rhodes.
“It was a totally professional performance,” said Rhodes.
“He paced the eight rounds superbly.”