STUART Brookes made an emotional return to the ring with a points win over Steve Spence at Doncaster Dome.
The Mexborough middleweight headlined the seven fight show with his first bout since the death of his brother Scott in early 2008.
A huge following travelled with Brookes from Mexborough and produced a massive ovation as he made his way to the ring.
The reception was even louder when the 29-year-old had his hand raised following a 60-54 points win from the six round contest.
Stepping into the ring last Friday was the biggest obstacle Brookes will face in his boxing career.
It was a win he so desperately wanted to pick up, understandable given the occasion and the size and passion of his support.
What this desire did create was a lack of technical discipline in the early stages from Brookes who looked for the big shots rather than feeling his way in.
The whole bout was a rather scrappy affair with Brookes brawling with a fighter he would have outclassed a few years ago.
Brookes was never troubled during the bout but did not look entirely comfortable either.
A severe cut along his hairline from a clash of heads during the third round was testament to the nature of the bout.
The inevitable ring rust was clear to see as Brookes struggled to find his range for much of the contest.
A big left hook to the body early in the first round suggested Brookes who enjoy more control in the fight than he actually did.
Spence looked to make a brawl of it from the off but it played into Brookes’ hands somewhat as the Scunthorpe fighter took himself within range.
Brookes enjoyed more success in the third round, landing a big swinging right that sent Spence stumbling back but only glancing blows followed.
The large cut sent blood flowing down the left side of the Mexborough fighter’s face but the good work done on it during the break ensured it would not trouble him again.
The pattern of the bout was crying out for Brookes to use the jab but he continued to look for the big blows.
A big left hook to the body stunned Spence in the early stages of the fifth round but there was no real follow up work.
The final round saw the most effective work from Brookes who finally adopted the patient approach.
Spence was genuinely troubled by the jab and looked to hold to get out of trouble.
It ensured Brookes finished with a flourish as he claimed his 12th professional win.