Craven digs deep to retain his Celtic Challenge belt

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Joe Craven made a successful first defence of the Celtic Challenge Muay Thai championship belt after seeing off the challenge from 14 year old Tayler Williams from Masda Gym in Liverpool at the Barnsley Metrodome.

With both fighters easily making the 52kg weight limit all the markers were in place for a very exciting five round championship bout.

Thirteen year old Craven, who hails from Illingworth and trains at the Calder Thai Boxing Academy in Halifax town centre, had to dig deep and use all his skills against the very determined Williams who came out strongly from the start and dominated most of the first round,

Craven looked to be struggling with the challenger and spent most of the round just trying to manage the pace and stay out of any real trouble.

Williams again came out strongly at the start of the second round, but Craven managed to get the measure of his opponent and started to land some very telling shots that saw him start to take the lead in the bout.

The next three rounds saw Williams starting strongly but by now the young Halifax fighter had found his form and was scoring at will with devastating push kicks, accurate body shots and strong knee work which Williams had no answer to.

Craven won these three rounds comfortably but right to the final bell Williams gave it his all and made him work for every point.

Craven’s coach, former two times British Champion, Ricky Richardson said: “I’m really pleased with Joe’s performance in this fight. It was a good test for him and he has come through it.

“Not only did he show his real warrior spirit but he showed real improvements in his skills since his last fight in November, I’m really proud of him.”

Craven will take it easy now for a few weeks with his next defence likely to be sometime around mid May so serious training will resume at the end of this month.