NICK Blackwell underlined his status as one of British boxing's brightest young prospects with a clinical fourth-round stoppage of Leicester's Martin Concepcion to successfully defend his English middleweight title tonight.

Trowbridge's Blackwell, 21, delivered a classy performance at his home town's Civic Centre and although Concepcion was ultimately hampered by an injured knee, that shouldn't detract from the quality displayed by the Wiltshire man.

'Bang Bang' Blackwell (11st 5lbs) has already had one attempt for British and Commonwealth glory - losing in five rounds to world title challenger Martin Murray last summer - but on this evidence it surely won't be long before he returns to that stage.

After a steady opening round from both fighters, it soon became apparent that Blackwell was largely untroubled by the power of the Midlands Area light-middleweight and middleweight champion (11st 5lbs).

While Concepcion's punches foundered on the gloves of the home fighter, Blackwell's left jab proved a punishing weapon, enducing swelling from the challenger's right eye by the end of the second.

The pattern continued in round three, Blackwell picking off his rival at will and snapping Concepcion's heads back on frequent occasions.

The end arived after 2:28 of the next as a Blackwell salvo seemed to catch Concepcion off balance. The Midlands man clearly jarred his knee in the process and, as Blackwell pounced to finish off his stricken opponent, referee Terry O'Connor stepped in to call a halt.

Blackwell's triumph was one of three for home fighters on the five-bout card, perhaps the most heart-warming of which was Gareth Heard's success over Lithuanian Vladimiras Balaklijec (10st 3lbs).

The Bradford on Avon welterweight (10st 5lbs) was returning to the ring for the first time in nearly two years having suffered with tendonitis in an elbow.

Heard, 29, dealt superbly with an awkward opponent and had drawn blood from Balaklijec's nose by the end of the second round.

A stinging left jab did the damage in round three, Heard following up with a flurry of blows that sent his rival to the canvas. Balaklijec stumbled to his feet, but referee Jeff Hinds had seen enough after 1:09.

There was a first professional victory in his 17th outing for 20-year-old Westbury journeyman Aaron Fox (11st 2lbs), who claimed a 39-37 middleweight verdict over another Lithuanian Dmitrij Kalinovskij (11st 1lb).

Dan Blackwell (11st 6lbs) was unable to make it a family double as he lost a 40-38 middleweight verdict to Latvian Andrejs Loginovs, a former defeated opponent of older brother Nick.

And there was also disappointment for Melksham's Liam Richards (10st 6lbs) in his light-welterweight clash with another Latvian, Jevgenijs Kirillovs (10st).

Richards, 25, a former English and British Masters title challenger, went down to a comprehensive 40-37 defeat, his third professional reverse in 12 fights.