Sandy Ryan v Terri Harper: Champion defends WBO welterweight title with dominant stoppage win

Terri Harper turns away as Sandy Ryan celebrates her win
Sandy Ryan improved her record to seven wins, one draw and just one defeat

World champion Sandy Ryan defended her WBO welterweight crown with a formidable stoppage win over fellow Briton Terri Harper in Sheffield.

Derby's Ryan, 30, was a class above Harper - landing combinations to head and body for three dominant rounds.

Harper, 27, fails in her bid to become a three-weight world champion, with her long-time trainer Stefy Bull pulling her from the fight before the fourth.

"I know Terri Harper and I knew I had to take it to her early," Ryan said.

"I had to be more smart in my work, but I knew I had to take it to her and stick to the gameplan."

She extends her record to seven wins, with one draw and one defeat since turning professional.

Doncaster-born Harper - who holds the WBA light-middleweight title - recorded a second loss in her 18th fight and left the ring without giving any post-fight interviews.

A statement win for dominant Ryan

Ryan stakes her claim as one of - if not the - best female welterweight fighters with a dominant and resounding win in her opponent's backyard.

She was a slight favourite with the bookmakers but there was no question as to who the Sheffield crowd were supporting.

Chants of "Yorkshire" accompanied Harper, born about a 30-minute drive away in Denaby Main, to the ring. Ryan took her time, making a slow entrance, and was seemingly unbothered by the jeers.

It was a frantic start, both women letting their hands go in the opening round.

The champion surged forward with more intent, varying her attack to head and body with her lead hand and utilising the jab. She rocked Harper's head back with a right in the closing seconds of the second.

Harper - who has also previously held a world title at super-featherweight - was hoping to become Britain's first female three-weight world champion in the modern era. But she sported a weary and deflated look as she headed back to her corner.

Ryan controversially drew a unification bout against Jessica McCaskill in September and came out looking like a fighter with a point to prove.

A barrage of shots left Harper scrambling in the third, the referee taking a close look at the challenger.

Trainer Bull had seen enough and saved Harper for any more damage as an elated Ryan unleashed an almighty roar.

I'll take any big fight - Ryan

Ryan overhauled her entire team following the controversial draw with American McCaskill, a fight most observers had her winning.

She relocated to Las Vegas, linking up with trainer Emanuel 'Flick' Savoy and enlisting the services of manager Brian Peters - who has guided the career of pound-for-pound star Katie Taylor.

"It's made me mentally stronger, [living] away from home and everyone I knew," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I couldn't even go out at the weekends because I had no one to go for a coffee with. I was seriously locked in and it just pays off."

Ryan has expressed a desire to become a multi-weight champion but there is unfinished business with McCaskill. First, though, the Chicago fighter has a tough defence against Welshwoman Lauren Price in May.

A unification fight between Ryan and IBF champion Natasha Jonas is another huge domestic affair, although both Liverpool's Jonas and Price are signed to rival promotional outfit Boxxer.

Ryan has options, but she was reluctant to make any call-outs when asked who she wants next.

"Any big fight. He [promoter Eddie Hearn] knows I'll be willing to take any big fight."

Smith shines but Hatton suffers first pro loss

In the main event, light-welterweight Dalton Smith extended his unbeaten record to 16 wins with an impressive stoppage victory over the experienced Jose Zepeda.

Sheffield's Smith, 27, recovered from a slow start to display some skilful counterpunching against the three-time world-title challenger.

He dropped Zepeda with a vicious body shot in the fifth, the American unable to get back to his feet.

Earlier in the night, Manchester's Campbell Hatton suffered a first career defeat as he was outpointed by Central Area light-welterweight champion Jimmy Joe Flint.

Challenging for the same title his father Ricky Hatton won 25 years earlier, Hatton was no match for the more technically gifted Flint.

Hatton - competing in his 15th pro bout after very little amateur experience - respectfully called for a rematch in his post-fight interview, but promoter Hearn suggested he could take a learning fight in the interim.