Rose battles to victory in Blackpool

Brian Rose battles through his toughest test Credit: Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Sport

British light-middleweight Brian Rose took a step towards elite level with a battling 12th-round stoppage of former world champion Joachim Alcine in Blackpool.

Helped through some difficult moments by a hometown crowd, Rose prevailed with two minutes and one second of the bout remaining to claim the vacant WBO Inter-Continental strap.

A shot at the organisation's full champion Zaurbek Baysangurov is the 28-year-old's ultimate goal, but he may have to overcome sterner tests than Alcine.

The 37-year-old Haitian-born Canadian dropped back down to 154lbs for this contest having been halted in a round by Matthew Macklin last time out and his days at the top level appear to be over.

Rose, who moved to a professional record of 23 wins and one defeat, came off second best in the battle of the jabs in the first couple of rounds but a solid left to the body in the third had Alcine (33-4, one draw) gasping with his early momentum halted.

A right uppercut to the chin from close quarters marked Rose's best work of four and the fifth round saw the home favourite controlling centre ring and landing frequently.

Alcine poured on aggression through the middle rounds to stay in the contest, although some wildly off-target right-hooks demonstrated fatigue.

Round nine was a thriller - Rose unloading in the neutral corner in search of the finish before Alcine regained his composure with a solid right uppercut and a left hook downstairs that forced his opponent to hold.

Buoyed by this success, Alcine applied further pressure - landing his right to the head with increased frequency - but Rose countered impressively to have him flailing over the ropes towards the end of 11.

It proved to be a crucial momentum change and, as Alcine sought refuge under attack in the neutral corner, a pair of left-hooks left him decidedly groggy and referee Richie Davies stepped in.

British featherweight champion Lee Selby (15-1), like Rose making his debut as a member of promoter Eddie Hearn's Matchroom stable, displayed dazzling form in defence of his Commonwealth strap.

It was soon apparent that opponent Corey McConnell (11-1-1), the previously unbeaten Australian champion, was operating out of his depth, going to the canvas twice before his corner threw in the towel one minute and 16 seconds into the fifth round of a scheduled 12.

Selby varied his attacks to head and body beautifully - the latter method of punishment causing McConnell decisive discomfort.

He upped the pressure in round three, seemingly unable to miss with the right hand upstairs before a left to the body sent McConnell down for the first time.

The 27-year-old Queenslander showed there was nothing wrong with his chin in the fourth as overhand rights and hooks crashed home.

A left uppercut to the midsection steadied McConnell early in the fifth before a two-punch combination to the head helped him to the floor again.

The challenger gamely beat the count but when further punishment rained down his corner correctly decided enough was enough.

Former Team GB squad members Scott Cardle, Thomas Stalker and Callum Smith continued their unbeaten starts in the paid ranks.

Lytham lightweight Cardle (11-0) picked up the British Central Area title, prevailing over 10 absorbing rounds against Rossington's Maxi Hughes as both men suffered bad cuts.

Olympic captain Stalker (3-0) out-pointed Hungary's Gyorgi Misei in six light-welterweight rounds while fellow Liverpudlian Callum Smith (5-0) halted Latvian super-middleweight Ruslans Pojonisevs in the opener with a brutal body shot.