Boxing: Denaby Main's Terri Harper seals historic world title triumph

It was a coronation the like of which Yorkshire sport has never witnessed before.

By Bob Westerdale
Sunday, 21 July, 2019, 14:12
Terri Harper celebrates. Photo: Andrew Saunders @sporting_captures

And if you weren't one of the 1,200 people watching Terri Harper's triumph at the Magna Centre at the weekend, you missed a moment of real boxing history.

It is remarkable that a 22-year-old woman, who is endearingly modest and so 'girl-next-door' out of the ring, can strap the vacant IBO World Female Super

Featherweight title around her waist after just eight professional fights and 20 months in the professional sport.

But if you think that super-quick timespan detracts from the scale of achievement - don't be fooled.

Her seasoned and far more experienced opponent Nozipho Bell had flown 8,800 miles to put this young prospect in her place.

The 29-year-old from the Sunshine Coast of South Africa, who won the WBF featherweight just 112 days earlier, had never been stopped.

But she was dropped to the canvas twice in round eight, the second from a straight right hand to the chin that was enough for referee Howard Foster to wave off the fight.In that delirious instant, Terri not only became a word champion, but also the first Yorkshirewoman to claim a global title and the youngest ever female world boxing queen.

It was a raucous celebration like no other coronation - Harper has an expanding fan base and they like what they see.

Co-promoters Stefy Bull and Ryan Rhodes embraced each other as if they'd won jointly won the title themselves.

With women's sport riding on the crest of a wave, time in the spotlight had arrived early for the former Hallam University student and she'd taken the opportunity with both hands - literally.

South Yorkshire's first female pro boxer, who sold £20,000 tickets for the Rotherham event on Friday, was sharp and honed after a camp which included two weeks in Spain.

Terri Harper and Stefy Bull

There had been all the hype you'd expect - the Magna show was called "The World Awaits” - but Harper looked calm and focused on the job as battle

commenced.

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She had expected Nozipho to apply early pressure but she gave as good as she got in the first round and caught the visitor flush with a left hook in the second.

She may still be learning on the job, but Harper was again successful with a wicked left in round three, with Bell having to cling on until her head had cleared.

David Allen

There was danger as Harper was caught below her right eye, and a clash of heads seemed the biggest worry, during some intense inside work.

In fact, the fight looked like it was getting messy as both women tried to find an edge.

But Harper's more accurate shots started marking her opponent's face and in round eight two trips to the canvas were enough to see the last of the African's involvement.

Bell accepted she'd been outboxed - in fact, she'd been plaintively staring at her coach Caiphus Ntante on several occasions before the final hammer blow fell.

A joyful Harper's biggest task then was making herself heard over the din created by her fans.

She felt "on top of the world" and thanked all those who had backed her on this short journey, which could now take her in any direction...defences or a

crack at the other titles on offer.

But first she said she had to have "time to let it sink in”.Ray Doyle, one of her team, said: "It is the proudest moment of my boxing career - winning a world title with a special fighter in my home town of Rotherham - just look at the support that this girl is getting selling out venues. What an atmosphere."On the Magna undercard, new kid on the block Callum Beardow's noisy supporters cheered the Gleadless cruiser to a comprehensive victory over Elvis Dube of Derby.

Doncaster's Gavin McDonnell's points win over Devon's Jamie Speight sees him claim mandatory status for EBU Featherweight title.

Lee Appleyard, campaigning on home soil for the first time, could earn a shot at the Commonwealth Title in October after his clear win over Newark's Fonz Alexander.

Callum Hancock's superior conditioning and reach saw him outbox game Mancunian Darryl Sharpe.

A South Yorkshire battle between super middleweight Nicolie Campbell, Sheffield and Serge Ambomo, Rotherham, saw Campbell tame the Cameroonian muscle-man 58-57.And Super bantamweight Jason Cunningham, of Doncaster, defeated Dean Evans, of Hereford.