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Britain's Ball wins world title in thriller

Nick Ball with his arm raised after becoming champion
Nick Ball wins his maiden world title, extending his record to 20 wins and one draw [Matchroom Boxing]

Briton Nick Ball outpointed Raymond Ford in a thrilling, high-quality contest to win the WBA featherweight world title in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Liverpudlian's relentless pressure and aggression prevailed as the fighters displayed their world-level credentials, trading punches until the final seconds.

Two officials scored it 115-113 to Ball, with one giving it to American Ford by the same margin.

"He's a tough man and a class boxer. I had to dig deep to get the belt," Ball told DAZN.

The 27-year-old earned a point for Queensberry promoter Frank Warren in the five-bout contest against Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom boxing.

Britain's two biggest promoters – once fierce rivals – have matched five fighters from their respective stables against each other in an unprecedented team event.

Ball has won a world title in his 22nd fight after controversially drawing with Mexican Rey Vargas in March.

"I'm made up. I should be two-time [champion] but it's not the case. I'm the champ now so it doesn't really matter," he added.

Bloodied Ball shines in Riyadh

Nick Ball throws a punch at Raymond Ford
Ford (right) suffered a first career defeat in his 17th pro fight [Matchroom]

Ball is England’s second current male world champion, joining WBO cruiserweight belt holder Chris Billam-Smith.

At just 5ft 2in, the challenger gave away five inches of height but with his quick feet and stocky build, he pressured Ford early on.

The more accurate work was coming from Ford but Ball's high punch output – even though not everything was landing – may have grabbed the judges' attention in some close early rounds.

Ford, 25, sustained a cut to his right eye in the third and Ball added insult to injury with a chopping overhand left in the fourth.

'Wrecking' Ball began to assert his dominance, living up to his alias. Warren jumped out of his seat as his man landed two sublime uppercuts in the fifth.

The New Jersey fighter was cut to his left eye - but Ford, who won the title with a dramatic 12th round stoppage win over Otabek Kholmato in March having been down on the cards - is not one to sleep on.

The tide began to turn in the seventh as Ford whipped in a terrific long left hook. Ball – bleeding from the nose - backtracked for the first time in the fight.

"He's hurt, he's hurt, his nose is busted," promoter Hearn shouted.

Ford grew in confidence and began to bridge the gap as the fight headed towards the championship rounds.

With his white shorts stained with blood, Ball had slowed down with his attacks and the tight rounds became harder to score.

The champion asked his corner if he was winning before the final round.

"We don’t know," they responded.

Eyeing up a knockout punch that would earn their promoter a bonus point, both fighters continued to trade leather right up until the final bell of a sensational match-up.

"It's how you recover and come back - that's a true champion and that's what I am now," a jubilant Bell said, adding that he is "ready" to add more titles to his collection.

Hutchinson & Sheeraz win as Queensberry dominate

Hamzah Sheeraz throws a left hook at Austin Williams
Sheeraz extends his record to 20 wins with 16 stoppages [Matchroom]

Ball had doubled the lead for Queensberry in a format where one point was awarded for a points win and two for a knockout.

Willy Hutchinson had earlier given Warren a winning start with a commanding points win over light-heavyweight Craig Richards.

With the Kingdom Arena still fairly empty, Scotland's Hutchinson survived a late Richards comeback to earn a deserved unanimous decision.

Points are worth double for team captains, and Warren selected middleweight Hamzah Sheeraz to lead Queensberry.

Ilford's Sheeraz - a revelation for British boxing after a low-key amateur career - repaid that faith by stopping Austin 'Ammo' Williams in the 11th round.

The 25-year-old - with his rod-like jab and snappy uppercuts on the inside - dropped the American in the 10th before finishing off the job.

He stretched Warren's lead to 6-0 but Matchroom can still draw the event if Filip Hrgovic stops Daniel Dubois in the IBF 'interim' title heavyweight bout and captain Deontay Wilder does the same to Zhilei Zhang in the main event later on Saturday.

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