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Happy return as Cook KO's Kirkorov

PUBLISHED: 16:36 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 14:10 02 July 2010

LONDON - MARCH 20:  Nicky Cook (R) of England on his way to victory during the European Featherweight title fight between Nicky Cook of England and Cyril Thomas of France at Wembley Arena on March 20, 2004 in London. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)

LONDON - MARCH 20: Nicky Cook (R) of England on his way to victory during the European Featherweight title fight between Nicky Cook of England and Cyril Thomas of France at Wembley Arena on March 20, 2004 in London. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)

2004 Getty Images

THERE was a happy return for Nicky Cook at the ExCel Arena in Docklands on Saturday night as he hammered out a two round triumph over Bulgarian Kirkor Kirkorov on the Sports Network promotion, writes LEN WHALEY. The Dagenham fighter bounced back from the

THERE was a happy return for Nicky Cook at the ExCel Arena in Docklands on Saturday night as he hammered out a two round triumph over Bulgarian Kirkor Kirkorov on the Sports Network promotion, writes LEN WHALEY.

The Dagenham fighter bounced back from the defeat he suffered in his WBO featherweight world title challenge against classy Californian Steve Luevano last July.

Kirkorov was strictly a trial-horse rival, but it was a win that Cook needed to build up for another title bid in 2008 - a year that looks vital for his fighting future.

The 28-year-old appeared more comfortable at super-featherweight as he controlled the opening session with effective long range jabbing and powerful solid shots to the mid-section.

In the second round, he stepped up to the pace with more damaging blows and a right to the body floored former WBU title challenger Kirkorov.

The Bulgarian climbed up but quickly returned for a second count after a solid left hook to the mid section - then a finishing right sent him to the floor again.

After the third count, referee Mark Green signalled the end of the one-sided action in the final minute of the second round.

It was a satisfactory return for Cook who looked sharp enough punching his 28th win in 29 bouts.

Minter halted

However, another comeback boxer on the Sports Network show, Ross Minter from Newham's TKO gym, suffered his second successive stoppage defeat when Chorley rival Michael Jennings retained his WBU featherweight title with a ninth round victory.

Ever-game Minter had shown real bravery in defeat, but was cut on his nose, head and ear, and trainer Johnny Eames sensibly signalled surrender, tossing in the towel just as referee Mickey Vann moved in.

Minter provided his usual brand of determination and aggression but the champion had the edge in class, with his superior movement and hand-speed setting up the victory.

Clearly rocked in the first round, the challenger, cheered on by his father - former middleweight world champion Alan - had his bright moments and Jennings finished the fight with a badly marked face and was never able to relax against his aggressive rival.

But the whiplash punches of the classy titleholder - beaten just once in 33 fights - took their toll and the end came in the final seconds of the ninth round.

Another TKO Gym fighter, Matthew Marsh, showed no ill effects from his 11th round stoppage loss at the hands of WBU king Derry Matthews last October as he blasted Tanzanian fighter, Ajibu Salum in the first round.

The former West Ham amateur switched his punches impressively to shake his awkward rival in the ExCel clash.

Finally, a long right hand over the top had Salum bouncing off the ropes and he was counted out and left requiring oxygen before being allowed to leave the ring.

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