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Bascome banishes his demons

Special moment: Bascome holds his belt aloft after beating David Martinez at the Fairmont Southampton on Saturday night (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Nikki Bascome exorcised some demons after his unanimous points victory over Mexican David Martínez in an eight-round welterweight bout at the Fairmont Southampton on Saturday night.

Returning to the ring for the first time since his knockout defeat by Portuguese Fábio Costa a year ago, Bascome had to dig deep against Martínez to claim the IBA International Welterweight Championship.

The Bermudian promised to show refinements to his defensive technique after spending several months training under world-renowned coach Jeff Mayweather at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas.

Any improvements were worryingly absent in the first round, however, which was eerily reminiscent to the opening three minutes of his fight against Costa, with Bascome taking unnecessary punishment.

Bascome, who kept Martínez waiting in the ring for 20 minutes after being forced into a last-minute change of gloves, seemed strangely reticent and was caught by a series of heavy combinations.

Although Martínez was finding early success backing his opponent to the ropes, digging right uppercuts through his guard, Bascome’s legs always seemed sturdy and he began to let his hands go towards before the bell.

Whatever words Bascome received from his coach Troy Darrell during the interval had the desired effect, with the 28-year-old starting to display the type of lateral movement that was missing in his previous contest.

Perhaps buoyed by having felt the power of Martínez’s, who has stopped just three of his 16 opponents, Bascome visibly grew in confidence and by the third round was landing left hooks at will.

Bascome continued to circle the ring in the fourth, using his dancing feet to avoid being trapped and giving as good as he got when the pair traded blows in the centre of the ring.

Martínez was still finding a home for his punches, though, and enjoyed a strong fifth round, although he did find himself against the ropes for the first time in the fight as Bascome unloaded several left hooks to the Mexican’s rib cage.

By the sixth round, Martínez was done chasing his fleet of foot opponent around the ring and beckoned Bascome to stand and trade.

Bascome wisely refused to make the same error that cost him against Costa and continued to use his footwork to keep out of danger and using the clinch to good effect.

Right before the bell, Bascome, spurred on by chants of “Nikki, Nikki, Nikki”, connected with a straight right which violently snapped the Mexican’s head back, spray flying from his forehead.

Despite entering uncharted waters, having never previously gone beyond six rounds, Bascome was still moving well and tieing Martínez up when necessary.

The Durango-born fighter landed with a flurry of eye-catching punches midway through the seventh, but it was Bascome, again, who finished strongly, stinging Martínez with another accurate straight right.

Both fighters stepped up the tempo in the finale, fighting at close quarters at times, Martínez landing with uppercuts and Bascome with hooks to the body to finish the close contest in a confident manner.

Ultimately, it was Bascome’s slicker movement and cleaner work that was rewarded by all three judges, the 28-year-old being hoisted into the air by Darrell to celebrate a momentous night and the beginning of a new chapter in his career.