West Bromwich’s middleweight prospect Tom Stokes (9-0) overwhelmed Basildon’s Paul Hilz (3-3) with a second-round stoppage win on May 12th in Birmingham to lift the British Challenge belt.
It was the first knockout recorded for the 22-year-old after notching up eight points victories since 2013.
The tattooed Hilz ducked and dived and looked to target the body with long-reaching punches. The younger fighter deployed a good variety of punches and backed his opponent up, who swung out with hooks whenever possible in an attempt to catch the prospect out with one big shot.
In the second round, a right hook to the head put Hilz on the seat of his pants. Sensing blood, Stokes went in for the kill and a barrage of unanswered shots saw referee Shaun Messer jump in to stop the contest with 17 seconds of the round remaining.
Stokes moves on to bigger honours whereas 35-year-old Hilz has hung up his gloves.
The former Wednesbury ABC fighter said, “I was the fittest I’ve ever been and getting the stoppage was the best thing I could have hoped for.
“Full credit to my opponent, he came to have a fight but don’t know if it was the age or what but I was just sharper on the night.
“I’m looking at the Midlands title next, it’s vacant at the moment and been mentioned for September.”
It was always going to be an uphill task for Hilz in his first fight at middleweight away from home against the best opponent he had ever faced.
The underdog reflected on the fight, “Stokes was the youngest boy I ever fought and I felt it.
“It’s all being well trying to catch them with that one big shot but he’s quick with good reactions and he’s not looking to get caught.
“I got up too quick from my knockdown and Kevin [Lilley] was screaming at me from the corner to take a knee. I was dazed on my feet and another shot brought me back round again so I started to throw back but the ref stopped it.
“Everyone said I was stopped too early but I said I weren’t and if you was all standing around my hospital bed right now you’d be saying it was stopped too late!
I’ve gone home safe to my babies so the referee was right and done his job.”
Hilz has since called time on his remarkable career that he saw him involved in three Challenge belt contests.
He commented on his decision to walk away, “There’s nothing else I can do in my career, I’ve already exceeded my expectations. I can’t better myself in any way so anything I do from here will only be a backwards step; I’ve pretty much done all I can do.
“I couldn’t go out as an away fighter and just stay safe, it’s not me, I’ve got too much pride and I just couldn’t do it and I’m not going to be a stepping stone for these young prospects.”
Hilz walked into Southend Boxing Club aged 28 and went on to win 12 of 14 unlicensed fights and claimed the International Challenge belt as a pro.
‘The Next Step’
Errol Johnson’s show, billed as ‘The Next Step’, saw wins for all three Black Country Boxing Promotions boxers – brothers Tom and Josh Stokes of West Bromwich and Leon Gower of Burton-on-Trent.
The headliner’s brother Josh secured a 40-36 points victory over Middleton’s Curtis Gargano whilst Leon Gower stopped Jack Summers in the fifth-round of their scheduled eight-round contest for the British Challenge featherweight Belt.
The event included an auction and after dinner guest speaker – former IBF World Cruiserweight Champion – Glenn McCrory.