Lauren Price dominates Naomi Mannes in Paris | Macaulay McGowan held to controversial draw against Farrhad Saad
Olympic gold medallist Lauren Price shut out Naomi Mannes to win the first eight-round contest of her professional career in Paris.
Price became the first Welsh woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal when she triumphed at the Tokyo Games, playing a starring role in Britain’s most successful Olympic boxing squad in 100 years.
But in only her third professional bout, Price was stepping up to her first eight-round contest against Mannes, a European title challenger in her last bout.
Characteristically calm, and treating her opponent with respect, Price didn’t rush herself in the first round. Her lead right set up a fast southpaw left and she fought in sudden bursts that offset Mannes.
Price feinted, studying Mannes, then all of a sudden drove her into a corner. Price slammed her cross in, a firm connection to open the second round.
Showing signs of her developing professional education, up close in a clinch Price flung in left hooks and timed her lead hook as Mannes stepped forward.
With a low-slung right, she whipped her jab up, just keeping Mannes at bay. The German had to duck forward and swing wildly to move into range.
Price subjected Mannes to another attack, pressuring her on the ropes and weaving away from flailing swipes afterwards.
Mannes did catch her out on occasion when the Welsh star had to shrug off a hit. However, Price landed a solid lead right hook, to serve a reminder of her ascendancy.
She pedalled around Mannes and began to look for her with her hooks, a fine jab blasting through Mannes’ guard. Price was forcing Mannes to retreat, landing with firmer and firmer blows.
She still had to absorb a wild right swept down from Mannes, but the German couldn’t rattle her.
She had honed in on the target, improving as the rounds progressed.
In her rhythm by the last, Price landed quality one-twos, striking more and more sharply and finishing her evening’s work with a right hook to her opponent’s jaw.
She won every round for every judge, shutting Mannes out 80-72 on all three cards.
Macaulay McGowan was held to a contentious majority draw by Farrhad Saad.
Visibly angered when the wrong music was played over his entrance, he was even more frustrated by the close of the contest.
McGowan started the quicker, doubling his hook and working harder in the opening round.
His jab darted out to the body, and he used his right to set up a left hook. Saad pushed in up close, getting rough in an early sign of frustration. The Frenchman drove a right down but only found sporadic success.
Saad, an international amateur and still an unbeaten professional fighter, was slower on his feet than McGowan, who moved away laterally to frustrate him.
The Briton pounced in his left hook and was giving Saad plenty to think on.
Saad upped his intensity, working with his left hook but McGowan thumped his right back.
McGowan stood in close to hook with Saad, but the Frenchman leaned back on the ropes and beckoned him back in with confidence.
McGowan continued to move off from side to side before picking his moments to attack
The Frenchman did however finish the seventh round strong, landing a solid cross full force.
McGowan was drawn into exchanges in the eighth and last round and Saad connected with further big hits. Hurt, McGowan held on. After a slow start the unbeaten Frenchman came to life, trying to hunt McGowan down.
The Briton though saw out the round. He finished with his hand raised but could only laugh when the draw, 77-75 to Saad on one card and 76-76 twice, was announced.
When trainer Joe Gallagher held up McGowan’s hand after the decision the crowd burst into applause.
With big brother and main event heavyweight Tony Yoka watching from ringside, Victor Yoka had his second professional bout against Branislav Malinovic.
Yoka clipped Malinovic with shots. He slammed in a right hand that landed with force. By the fifth round, he was bringing in heavier hooks. Malinovic threw a hook of his own back, trying to relieve the pressure on him. But Yoka clubbed him down to a knee.
He dropped Malinovic a second time in the sixth and last round. He made it to the final bell but Yoka was a dominant, unanimous winner, taking the decision 60-52 twice and 60-50.
Watch Dan Azeez on the Tony Yoka vs Carlos Takam bill live on Sky Sports Action