Explosive start to 'Hammer Time'

West Ham United's big 'Hammer Time' night of boxing has got off to an explosive start under sunny east London skies.

With expectation rising ahead of West Ham United fanatic Kevin 'The Hammer' Mitchell's Interim WBO world lightweight title bout with Australian Michael 'The Gladiator' Katsidis, fight fans began pouring into the stadium from around 5pm.

Unbeaten Mitchell, from Dagenham, is expected to bring thousands of supporters the short distance down the Barking Road to roar him on against the champion, with the first bell set to ring at around 10pm.

It was Mitchell's younger brother Vinny who kicked-off proceedings with a points victory over Daniel Thorpe in a four-round super-featherweight contest.

There were four first-round stoppages in the opening eight bouts - including an impressive victory for 2008 Beijing Olympian Frankie Gavin.

Light-welterweight Gavin, cheered on by a loud and vociferous band of supporters from his native Birmingham, was far too good for West Ham shirt-wearing Gavin Tait.

Gavin's Olympic team-mate Billy Joe Saunders (pictured) also had his arm raised after a 60-55 points victory over a gallant Andy Butlin in a six-round middleweight contest.

There were also wins for super-bantamweight Ryan Walsh, welterweight George Michael Carmen and super-featherweights Liam Walsh and Ricky Burns as the sun began to set over the East End.

With more than 15,000 supporters expected inside by the time Mitchell makes his way to the ring, and X Factor star Stacey Solomon singing the national anthems, promoter Frank Warren has promised more big nights of boxing at the stadium in the future.

With Beijing Olympic gold medallist James DeGale fighting for his first professional title and a mouth-watering British heavyweight title showdown between champion Danny Williams and fast-talking Derek Chisora also on the bill, it is sure to be a historic night for both the Boleyn Ground and West Ham United.

Tickets will remain on sale for 'Hammer Time' from the Boleyn Ground ticket office until 9.30pm.