New Southern Area light-welterweight championship Tony Owen says his classic encounter with close friend Danny Connor at The O2 on Saturday put the Sutton boxing scene back on the sporting map, writes Ziad Chaudry.
The 26-year-old ‘Silent Assassin’ from Carshalton, who had his friend, Wallington’s British Paralympic wheelchair athlete and six-time Olympic gold medallist David Weir, cheering him on at ringside, finally got his hands on the title he has dreamed about since turning professional four years ago by claiming a narrow 96-95 10-round points decision over Hackbridge-based Connor, 27, on referee Ian John-Lewis’s scorecard.
"Getting the Southern Area is a dream for me, it’s the next step up to the British," said Owen, who in November 2011 was beaten in four rounds by Ben Murphy for the lightweight version of the Southern mantle.
"To be honest, I thought I won it by a wider margin.
"I was scoring a lot of the cleaner shots, I fell asleep a little bit in the middle but I don’t think enough to give it that much of a tighter score."
And Owen believes both he and Connor, who he has known for more than 10 years having trained together at Rosehill ABC, have set the standards of how the sport should be conducted.
"Like I’ve been saying in the build up, we’re mates but we both desire the same things, it’s a sport at the end of the day," he continued.
"There was no ill feeling, we just both wanted the title.
"We acted like true professionals, we gave the London Borough of Sutton area and all boxing fans a really good show and that’s what it was all about.
"Me and Dan have obviously been the highlight at the moment but our area is full of talent so it’s nice to be involved in that, doing something right and positive for the area.
"You’ve got my brother Lee Owen, Ricky Boylan, Craig Whyatt and Lenny Daws so there’s a lot going on.
"At the end of the day we’re all local lads, we all get along outside of the ring.
"There’s always going to be rivalry but the way me and Dan conducted that’s how it should be, it’s a sport at the end of the day.
"Dan done amazing as well, it takes two and it was brilliant."
Owen, who moves to 15 victories in 17 outings, would be more than willing to give his friend Connor, who previously held the Southern Area title on two occasions, a rematch.
"I would do it all over again 100 percent, I’m sure everyone else would want it as well," he added.