High-flying Ricky Burns secured a successful first defence of his WBO lightweight title in a hard-fought unanimous points defeat of Paulus Moses at a packed Braehead Arena in Glasgow last night.
Namibian bruiser Moses was outboxed by the Coatbridge 28-year-old with the judges scoring the fight 119-110, 120-110 and 117-111 in favour of Burns.
It was far from an easy homecoming for Burns as Moses made the Scot work hard for the win, dominating the centre of the ring and hitting home with powerful flurries at times.
However, Burns showed his skill and resiliance throughout, landing frighteningly accurate combinations and feeding off the rapturous support of the partisan crowd.
Burns enjoyed an electric start in the first round, executing his jab well and leading in Moses with hooks to the body, the Namibian offering little in return. That momentum continued into the second round as both men felt each other out, but Burns continued to show his superiority.
Former WBA world champion Moses had claimed before the fight that he had beaten better fighters than Burns, but wore an expression intimating he he'd found himself in a lion's den at the Braehead cauldron.
Burns again looked sharp in the third and got the crowd cheering with his blistering combinations. Moses continued to move forward and fly in with hooks but came off second best.
Throughout the next couple of rounds Moses looked more engergetic, but his flurries were not enough to really trouble Burns as the Scot stood strong and boxed cleverly.
Burns moved smoothly from side to side when delivering a couple of lancing left hands, that resulted in Moses punching air.
However, Moses started to cause a few minor problems for the Scot as he managed to find his way through Burns' defence and land accurate upperuts from close range. In retaliation, Burns hit back with even more shots to Moses' wiry frame and the 33-year-old's engine was being severely tested.
Burns asserted his authority even further from the eighth until the final round, with his jab remaining crucial to finding space to land clinical blows. In round nine, however, Moses landed arguably his best shot of the night when a looping right hand smashed the champion in the face.
A gasp rippled throughout Braehead Arena as Moses continued to find weaknesses but Burns managed to bob and weave out of range and finished with more polished shots.
In the closing rounds it was clear to see that Burns would see the fight out. The fight had been closer than the judges' scorecards had suggested but the Namibian's heart and stamina was never in doubt; despite being booed by the crowd during the pre-fight entrances, he earned their respect by the end of the night.
Before the final round both men hugged and embraced with Moses' awkward grin showing that he was resigned to defeat. Burns cleanly saw out the round and worked his way to another well-deserved victory.
Once again, Burns has proved his doubters wrong with an exceptional display of class and skill. Before the fight, many experts had predicted that Burns would underestimate Moses and questioned his credentials as a world champion.
Nothing could have been further from the truth, the respect between the two was there for everyone to see and Burns could not treat a fighter who is 28-1 as a second-rate opponent.
Speaking after the fight, Burns claimed he had a niggling shoulder problem going into the fight and admitted he struggled in the last few rounds.
"I could see how he had 19 knockouts from his 28 wins," Burns said. "He could punch. A few timess he caught me on the shoulder, the same spot. My left arm was dead.
"I was just trying to pepper it out and keep my distance. It was a tough fight - we expected that, and I'm just glad I got the win."
A fight with Kevin Mitchell later this year is now on the cards for Burns, both men promoted by Frank Warren so there should be no niggling issues in organising what would be a mouth-watering bout for British boxing fans.
On the undercard, former British featherweight champion Paul Appleby returned to his winning ways after a controversial unanimous decision over Stephen Ormond to win the vacant Celtic super-featherweight title.
The 24-year-old from South Queensferry fought a close and exciting fight against the Irishman, which was a back and forth contest throughout. Appleby found himself in another war, after his gruelling battle with Liam Walsh last year with both men landing powerful accurate shots.
However, Ormond was deducted a point for holding at a time when Appleby was gaining momentum and may have contributed to his downfall. When the result was announced, Appleby fell to his knees in a state of exhaustion and jubilation.
2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Callum Johnson destroyed journeyman Tommy Tolan in an impressive stoppage only 90 seconds into the first round. The Englishman, who represented Scotland at the games, is sure to be one to look out for in the future.
Other results on the undercard: Stephen Simmons def. Hastings Rasani (KO, 6th round) Jordan McCrory def. Yousef El Hamidi (PTS) Jonathan Slowey def. James Ancliffe (PTS) John Thain def. Joe Lovell (PTS)