Boxing star Wilders is a real Euro belter

by Nigel Mcdermid YORKSHIRE'S Noel Wilders returned home from Nice this week proudly clutching the European bantamweight belt.

His achievement in taking the vacant title on Tuesday night in opponent Fabien Guillerme's own back yard can hardly be overstated.

And it now puts Wilders in the frame to challenge for one of the major world titles.

Manager Trevor Callighan has made no secret of the fact that he sees the European crown as a stepping stone, but exactly what happens next remains to be seen.

Trainer Mick Marsden said: "We've got options and we'll just wait for the dust to settle."

Wilders, a former undefeated IBO and British champion, revealed he would like to defend the European crown in Yorkshire.

"That'd be nice and we'd get a huge crowd," he said.

Stomach

Whether or not Wilders defends in Yorkshire will depend very much on television interests but this week's win certainly elevates the 28-year-old into the big league.

The Cas-born southpaw looked calm and focused as he stepped into the ring in France.

But he admitted: "My stomach was turning a bit through the national anthems. I was a bit stiff at the start but then loosened up. The fans gave me a boost too."

Any fears about his stamina over 12 rounds, having boxed only once in the past 18 months, proved unfounded.

"I'd taken the foot off the pedal just a little at times just to make sure I didn't run out of gas," he said. "But at the end there was still some fuel in the tank."

Worries that fighting a Frenchman in his own home-town might prove to be Wilders' greatest obstacle were not entirely unfounded.

Two of the judges scored the contest 115-113 in Wilders' favour. Which five rounds Guillerme was supposed to have won remains a mystery.

Wilders appeared to win at least 10 rounds. Guillerme at best shared the fourth and fifth, though even in those rounds Wilders worked well on the outside.

The third judge had it 116-112 for Wilders.

It was a unanimous decision but one which left you wondering what the result might have been had Wilders not been so far ahead on talent.

Manager Callighan believes Guillerme's corner should have pulled their man out as early as the tenth round.

"It was clear he was never going to stop Noel," he said.

Callighan also paid tribute to Wilders' band of travelling fans, saying that they lifted the occasion with their vocal support.

HUDDERSFIELD'S Mark Hobson added another title to Chris Aston's Yorkshire stable by beating Ugandan Abdul Kaddu for the Commonwealth cruiserweight crown.

Twenty-six-year-old Hobson, at 6ft 5in, had a massive height advantage and floored 41-year-old Kaddu twice before the inevitable stoppage in Bridgend last weekend.

Tickets for the forthcoming Huddersfield show featuring a line-up of top Yorkshire stars including Commonwealth welterweight champion James Hare are available on 01708 782200.

More details of the bill will be announced later.