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Bascome gets job done under the stars

Job done: Nikki Bacome raises his hand after defeating Filipino Alvin Lagumbay by unanimous decision at the Victualling Yard in Dockyard on Saturday night (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Nikki Bascome had to overcome another trademark slow start to earn a unanimous points victory over Filipino Alvin Lagumbay at the Victualling Yard in Dockyard on Saturday night.

The Bermudian is often most vulnerable during the opening rounds and so it proved again, with Lagumbay dominating the early phases before Bascome was able to force his way into the fight at the midway point.

Bascome did, however, produce a strong finish, his best work coming in the seventh and eighth, opening up a cut above Lagumbay’s left eye and landing a succession of thrilling right hooks to claim the ninth win of his professional career.

Two judges scored the fight 77-75 and the other 78-74 in favour of Bascome.

While Bascome did not exactly sparkle under the stars at the Victualling Yard, which was transformed into an atmospheric amphitheatre for the occasion, he was a worthy winner and perhaps could have made it a far easier night had he not surrendered the first two rounds.

Just as he did in his previous outing against Mexican David Martínez at the Fairmont Southampton last November, Bascome endured a nervous opening stanza and was wobbled by a body shot by Lagumbay, whose left hand was connecting with unnerving regularity.

Lagumbay entered the venue to the familiar power chords of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, a ringwalk favourite of the southpaw’s idol Manny Pacquaio, and was showing the type of pedigree that led him to win the WBO Asia Pacific welterweight title in Tokyo, Japan, last year.

His strategy of feinting with a jab before whipping in a left hand over the top of Bascome’s guard was proving very effective, although the Bermudian did find a home with a crushing right hand in the second round.

Lagumbay was also having the better of the close exchanges, even when trapped against the ropes, as Bascome, whose right eye was becoming puffy and swollen by the third, seemed strangely reticent to let his hands go and was continually being caught on the way out.

The home-town favourite did, however, start turning the tide with another powerful right hand and thudding left hook, arguably Bascome’s chief weapon, rattling Lagumbay for the first time in the fight.

Bascome appeared to have absorbed the best Lagumbay had to offer, suggesting the switch to super-lightweight from welterweight was the correct move, and started picking up the pace in the mid-rounds, firing off left hooks to the head and body.

Although Bascome’s defensive frailties continued to be his Achilles’ heel — his head was repeatedly snapped back by Lagumbay’s left hand throughout — his own accurate work remained impressive.

Efficiently effective with his output, when the 28-year-old threw his punches they tended to find their target, with Bascome catching Lagumbay with a flashy one-two combination and another well-timed right hand in the seventh.

His jab, too, was far crisper than Lagumbay’s pawing, flickering effort, which was used largely as a distraction to set up his looping left hand.

Bascome was moving far better by this late stage, while Lagumbay seemed to have run out of ideas, and swallowed more punishment in the final round, the Bermudian dipping low before exploding with a trio of right hooks against his opponent’s bloody left eye.

There was more of a sense of relief than the unbridled joy that greeted Bascome’s previous win over Martínez when the judges’ scores were announced.

Understandably so, given the redemption nature of that encounter, Bascome’s first after his sickening knockout defeat to Portuguese Fábio Costa.

“I thought I started off slowly,” Bascome said. “He’s kind of tricky, a bit like Pacquaio, and it’s kind of hard to time against those type of guys.

“When I was able to figure him out, I was able to move out of the way [of his punches] a bit more. I give myself a B-plus.”