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Boxing: `CHOIRBOY' IS RIGHT ON SONG.

Byline: NICK PEET

PETER CULSHAW produced a vintage performance to hold onto his WBF super-flyweight world title in the capital on Saturday night.

`The Choirboy' dominated from the opening bell against Thai prospect Wandee Charoen.

The three judges at the Wembley Conference Centre had an easy night as Culshaw quickly found his range and rhythm - leaving the trio to score the bout 118-112,117-111, 117-114,all in favour of the champion.

Former WBC champion Charoen arrived with top ratings from each of the world's major governing but left demoralised and defeated.

It was only the fifth loss of his impressive 44-fight professional career,but the 23- year old conceded afterwards he had met a boxer at the top of his game.

``He is a great champion,'' conceded the ever-smiling Thai through his Englishspeaking trainer. ``I could not get near to him.

``I fought Australian Hussein Hussein, who is unbeaten and at the top of the WBA ratings, but he punched a ran. Culshaw did not.

``He stood to box and threw hard punches. He is a great champion.''

Huyton's finest got his key weapon - his rangy left jab - involved straight from the off. Charoen, four inches shorter, simply could not make any impact.

Two neat right uppercuts welcomed the Thai into the second as Culshaw let fly on the inside to catch the challenger off his guard.

Two rounds down and chasing shadows,Charoen's corner had to reassess.

The Thai rushed out for the third to land a handful of crouching straight right hands to the body. Yet for every one he landed,Culshaw was slipping in three or four good head shots.

Culshaw motored up a gear for the fourth - his most accomplished three minutes of the match.

Every shot the challenger lunged forward to throw Culshaw slipped, whilst the champion's punches rained down from all angles.

Culshaw tried to bring the pace back down in the fifth, inspiring Charoen.

And the challenger almost landed a massive right uppercut midway through, warning the champion to get back on his game.

It was the round in which Culshaw later conceded he damaged his right hand, but there was no noticeable change in his workrate.

Charoen had to do something and began to really open up in the sixth. But a piercing right straight down the middle rocked him onto his heels.

With the rounds in the bag and his opponent taking chances, Culshaw began to thrive again.

Charoen poured forward to pin him on the ropes before throwing three big body shots, but Culshaw simply sucked them in through his elbows before slipping away and landing a left hook.

Charoen knew from the start he had to draw the champ into a stand and trade fight if he was to make any inroads past Culshaw's reach. But the Scouser's game plan that was running like clockwork.

The Thai dug deep,enjoying his best spell in the seventh, and even nicking the eighth.

Only his greater work rate caught the eye of the judges - not that many of his shots were finding their mark.

Culshaw got back onto his trusty jab early in the ninth, cracking shots onto the top of Charoen's head then dancing away.

Charoen fought back strongly and pinned Culshaw in his own corner early in the tenth to land his best punch, a solid right. But despite a few gasps at ringside, the champion was never in any real danger.

With the fight won, Culshaw just had to jab and move and not let the Thai get up close. His performance was textbook.

Every time Charoen managed to pin him down - which wasn't too often - the champ just tied him up on the inside.

Not even a whirlwind burst into the final session could upset Culshaw's control as the Merseysider jabb ed his way to the final bell and one of the most significant victories of his professional career.

The decision was always going to be a formality as all three English judges - Roy Francis (Kent), Terry O'Conner (London) and Paul Thomas (Derby) - confirmed a great night for Liverpool's finest modern-day champion. n Audley Harrison produced more fighting talk yesterday, vowing to beat future opponents - and his critics - into submission.

Britain's Olympic super-heavyweight gold medal winner in 2000 clocked up the 10th straight victory of his professional career at Wembley on Saturday, beating Ratko Draskovic 80-73 on points.

Afterwards Harrison snapped: ``People ridiculed me before the Olympics. My goal now is not money - it's being the heavyweight champion of the world.

``People are judging me like I'm the world champion and that's why I'mbeing rushed.

``Those people don't want to see me succeed. But I'm not doing this for them. It's all about the goals I set myself when I turned pro.''

CAPTION(S):

ON A DOWNER: Wandee Charoen ducks to avoid Culshaw's left hook at the Wembley Conference Centre; TAKE THAT: Peter Culshaw lands a jab on challenger Charoen in his unanimous points victory
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2003
Words:828
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