A FIGHT for the ages and probably the fight of 2024 went the way of Ruadhan Farrell as he claimed the BUI Celtic super-bantamweight title at the expense of fellow North Belfast man Connor Kerr at the Ulster Hall by way of a 78-75 decision.

It was a compelling battle that could have gone either way with every round brilliantly competitive, but perhaps Farrell did just do enough to shade this war that culminated in a standing ovation for both.

Farrell, the taller and longer of the two, made a busier start as Kerr seemed content to set traps and try to counter.

'King Con' seemed to up it a little to start the second and Farrell was happy to engage as this fight caught fire.

It was thrilling stuff as Kerr switched stances, the action ebbing and flowing at a breathless pace, both digging in. You felt something had to give as the fight moved into the second half as it was poised on a knife-edge. 

The sixth was a microcosm of the fight as initially, Kerr was forcing it and Farrell looked in a bit of bother, only to retaliate with the body shot that stung Kerr.

It would come down to which of the two had more in the tank and oil lights were certainly flickering as it moved into the final round and they expended every last ounce they had, going to war until referee David Irving had to step in with the din of the crowd drowning out the final bell.

It was a nervous wait for the outcome, but Farrell sunk to his knees in jubilation at getting the verdict in a fight of the year contender.

Farrell and Kerr do battle

Farrell and Kerr do battle

"I've been doubted throughout my whole career that I would win a professional title, but I'm here now as BUI Celtic champion," said an emotional Farrell after.

"I said I would dedicate this to my cousin who I lost to cancer in December and my aunt who died and I wanted to do them proud, so I wasn't going to be denied and would leave here as a champion."

In one of the most bizarre fights you'll see, Owen O'Neill took a 40-35 points win over Belfast-based Slovakian Edgar Kemsky.

O'Neill showed up to fight but Kemsky from the off was clowning and postering, drawing a stern warning and eventually a point off from referee Eamonn Magill.

He was also getting the hairdryer treatment from his corner but to no avail as his erratic behaviour continued, but then at times he stood and fought. It had to be seen to be believed. A frustrated and clearly angry O'Neill took the win in what was a farce not of his making.

Steven Ward returned to the ring after close to two-and-a-half years in the wilderness with a solid 60-54 win over Perry Howe.

Naturally, given the layoff, his timing wasn't quite on point early, but was perhaps chasing the one-punch knockout, head-hunting a little too much as he sought to impress. There was no doubt the Belfast man was banking the rounds and when he went downstairs, looked to be making more of an impact.

Howe is a survivor and those instincts ensured he got through to the end. Ward took the win on points and will be happy with the six rounds banked after such a long layoff.

"It's good for be back after a long 27 months," he said.

"I've got a bit of rust off now. The timing was a bit off but what can you expect?"

Gerard Hughes got back on the winning trail as he swept all four rounds against journeyman Luke Fash on Eamon Magill's scorecard. The West Belfast super-bantamweight boxed with patience throughout and improved to 5-0-1. 

John Boyd enjoyed a debut win

John Boyd enjoyed a debut win

Another of the West Belfast men, John Boyd, enjoyed a winning debut as the former Ulster Elite champion claimed a 40-36 points win over Newry's Allan White at light-middleweight.

White came to have a go but southpaw Boyd soon settled and began to find his timing as he sought to counter his foe.

Blood was pouring from White's nose in the second as those counter lefts told and it was a case of whether Boyd could find a stoppage. Allan wasn't going to allow that to happen as he did enough to get through the second half and Boyd had to settle for a points win, but a fine debut nonetheless. 

"This is my first time fighting in the Ulster Hall," Boyd revealed.

"It was good to get four rounds against a live opponent."

Dublin's Glen Byrne got the night underway with a 60-54 points win over Martin Shaw at light-middleweight and super-featherweight JP O'Meara was a points winner over Engel Gomez.