Couzens crowned Masters king after thrilling victory

British Masters champion Sam Couzens
British Masters champion Sam Couzens

Gloves are off as HMS Sultan engineers sting like a bee

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Sam Couzens stormed to British Masters glory with a thrilling stoppage of Welsh battler Stefan Hughes.

But the Titchfield light-heavyweight had to brave a second-round onslaught from his opponent in their dramatic meeting in London, before securing victory.

The clash between the pair was tipped to be a crowd-pleaser, with both men keen to come forward.

And they didn’t disappoint as they went toe-to-toe in a last-man-standing tear-up.

Couzen’s fitness and quality eventually told when a succession of hurtful uppercuts brought the meeting to a close in the fourth.

That came after the new champ was staggered by a right from Hughes in the second.

Hughes was left needing 11 stitches in cuts above and below the eye after the meeting was stopped.

Twenty-five-year-old Couzen’s trainer, Jack Bishop, heaped praise on his charge’s bravery in a gruelling battle which led to an emotional success.

He said: ‘It was a brilliant fight and Sammy was brilliant.

‘They went at it hammer and tong and the crowd were on their feet for as long as it lasted.

‘Neither gave any ground. No quarter was asked or given.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many blows land as in the first round.

‘Sammy got caught in the second, but he kept his hands up and came back at him. I saw signs of Hughes fading in the third, so told Sammy to go for it in the fourth.

‘He certainly did that and got through with about half-a-dozen uppercuts.

‘The ref waved it off after that and Sammy was the champion.

‘It was a great moment and there was a tear in his eye afterwards.

‘If anyone deserves the success it’s Sammy. He works his guts out in the gym and is a great lad. I’m delighted for him.’

Couzens’ title success makes him the 10th champion to emerge from Bishop’s camp as he moves towards his 89th birthday.

Bishop will now weigh up the options for his charge before deciding the way forward.

The respected trainer also reserved praise for highly-regarded local cutsman Frankie Hopkins, who was in Couzens’ corner for the contest.

Bishop said: ‘I’m not far off 90 now, so to still be producing champions can’t be too bad.

‘Frankie Hopkins was in the corner and said how good an achievement that is, and he knows what he’s talking about.

‘With me not being too well of late, he was a big help for both me and Sammy.

‘We will take a bit of time to enjoy the win, and then get planning on Sammy’s next step.’