Six years ago brought North Wales boxing’s most rewarding night ever as Tom Doran struck gold

It was six years ago this week that North Wales boxing rejoiced at arguably its finest ever achievement.

On February 15, 2015, Connah’s Quay’s Tom Doran won the Sky Sports Prizefighter middleweight tournament.

The then unbeaten 27-year-old landed the £32,000 first prize when he knocked out the experienced Cello Renda in the third round of the final.

It was the biggest moment by far in the career of the North Walian, who had returned to boxing in May 2014 after a three-year lay-off due to work commitments.

Doran was 7/1 with the bookmakers to win the eight-man tournament, which was shown live on Sky Sports from the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

“I like proving people wrong, and I think I’ve done that,” said Doran after beating Renda.

First up for the Deesider was a quarter-final against Birmingham’s tricky southpaw Craig Cunningham, who had an identical 11-0 professional record.

Doran could not have made a better start, stiffening Cunningham’s legs with an early jab before hurting the Midlander with a firm right hand.

The Quay fighter then scored a knockdown to secure a 10-8 round, even though replays showed his overhand right did not land clean.

The second session saw Cunningham use his more controlled boxing to get back in the bout, but Doran then dominated the third and won a unanimous decision by scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 29-27.

The semi-final saw Doran come up against Ireland’s Luke Keeler, the pre-tournament favourite who had former WBO world middle and super-middleweight champion Steve Collins in his corner.

There was talk that Keeler had a damaged right hand, but that did not seem to affect the Dubliner too badly as he threw plenty of shots from both mitts.

However, Doran was calm and composed throughout, picking his punches beautifully to win the opening two rounds and leaving Keeler looking somewhat ragged.

The Irishman staged a spirited rally in the last, but Doran took the verdict 29-28 on all three scorecards.

After a far-too-brief rest, Doran went head-to-head with two-time English middleweight title challenger Renda in the final.

The big-hitting Renda clearly won the opener, bloodying Doran’s nose and landing repeatedly with his right hand.

However, in the second Doran produced a fantastic comeback, reverting to his patient counter-punching and evening up the fight.

Then in the third came the magical moment for Doran and his many fans in the crowd as he caught Renda flush on the chin with a crunching left hook.

The Peterborough fighter went down and looked spent and although he just beat the count he offered no argument when the bout was stopped with one minute 44 seconds on the clock.

As well as receiving the Prizefighter trophy and £32,000 cash prize, Doran scooped another £2,000 for winning the final by knockout.

After two more stoppage wins, Doran met former Prizefighter opponent Keeler for the vacant World Boxing Council International Middle Title in April 2016.

In another true career high, Doran stopped the Irishman in the second round.

To put into context the Welshman’s feat, Keeler went on to win and defend the European title against Conrad Cummings before last year taking on undefeated star Demetrius Andrade for the World Boxing Organisation World Middle Title. Keeler went nine rounds before Andrade won by stoppage.

As for Doran, he went on to fight the much-avoided Chris Eubank Jr for the British Middleweight Title on June 25, 2016 at the O2 Arena in Greenwich.

The fight was on the undercard of Britain’s Anthony Joshua defending his IBF World Heavyweight championship against American Dominic Breazeale.

Doran was aiming to become only the second North Wales boxer in history to win a British professional title, following Barmouth-born Johnny Williams, who beat Jack Gardner for the British and Commonwealth (Empire) Heavyweight belts in 1952.

The Deesider gave it his all, but the punches of champion Eubank proved too powerful and he retained his crown via a fourth round stoppage.

That remains the only career defeat in 18 bouts for the 33-year-old Doran, who has not boxed since.

What a night it was, though, when the North Walian hero won the Prizefighter event in front of a TV audience of millions.

Copyright Dave Jones © All rights reserved. CoverNews by AF themes.
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