It was a day of mixed fortunes for Sunderland’s boxers in the junior ABA semi-finals as the cities clubs qualified three boxers for the final.
Isaac Macleod, Josh Kelly and Bobby Begg were all successful in Newbiggin on Saturday but there was defeats for Curtis Todd, Ryan Conley and a shock defeat for former champion and England boxer Jake Slater.
Jake boxed Razaq Najib from Sheffield Lane and with all of Jake’s former successes had to be considered favourite for this one.
He showed that in the first round after dominating leading with his jab that got through Najib’s defence far too easily. In the first there wasn’t much reply from the Sheffield boxer but in the next three rounds Najib stepped it up. The last three rounds were very similar to Slater’s quarter-final in Manchester last weekend with Najib coming out extremely aggressively and keeping Slater covered and against the ropes for most of the rounds.
Slater tried to counter punch and move away like he did in the quarters but Najib was too strong to let that happen. With the scoring computers down it was left to the judges to score it like in the professional game and they give it to Razaq Najib on a majority decision.
Slater’s club mate Isaac Macleod (above left) kept his quest alive for a fourth national title. Last season Isaac won the nationals then went on to win gold at the tri-nations and the Europeans as well as silver in the worlds and showed exactly why in his performance here.
Against Sefton’s Jack Williams Isaac was in control from round one and showed signs of really hurting his opponent from the word go. His ability to step back and land crushing hooks to both body and head with so much ease was a particular highlight to his commanding performance.
In the first round there was a period of about 15 seconds where Williams had Macleod against the ropes but he quickly turned it round, took back the centre of the ring. In the second Isaac hit a crushing body shot that Ricky Hatton would have been proud of and from then on it was one way traffic as Williams was clearly hurt and stopped throwing. Macleod’s dominance was too much in the third after a one-two to the head resulted in a standing eight count before the bell.
Macleod got the unanimous decision and will be joined in Wakefield on Saturday by Bobby Begg and another former champion in Josh Kelly.
Josh (above right) of Houghton overcame Billy Pickles (Burmantofts) in a great display. It was a tight contest as Pickles gave his all in the fight but generally you could see the class difference as Josh looked quicker, smarter and slicker from the start.
In the first three rounds Josh moved well and landed good combinations but in the final round Josh went all out and started throwing massive hooks, a few of which landed superbly to the body. He took it on a unanimous decision.
Beg (above centre) continued his impressive ABA campaign with another solid performance.
The brawler from Lambton Street faced a difficult test against a much fancied Blondie Price from Karmand. Price did try to show boxing skill working the job in the early stages but soon got dragged in to Begg’s brawling style.
Begg is just so quick but his shots land so heavy so it is difficult to box with the jab against that. In the first alone Bobby landed a massive right uppercut and a strong hook to the head caused a standing eight. He continued this style and in the third after another massive shot to the head visibly hurt and wobbled Price.
In the end it was a unanimous decision for Begg as well.
Begg’s club mate, Curtis Todd, did not have such a good day. He retired after the third round after a disappointing performance against Millenium’s Ashley Shaw.
Shaw is a skilled boxer and has boxed internationally and he showed all of his skills in this performance. He visibly hurt Todd from the start on a day that Todd just never got going. After Todd said that he was disappointed with his performance but said he was proud to have gotten so far and was going to come back stronger next time.
Hylton Castle’s Ryan Conley was also unsuccessful in his semi-final. Interestingly it was Conley’s first fight in the competition after walking over to this stage.
However, he did box well and was unlucky against last years finalist Thomas Whitaker (Rotunda). Ultimately though, the jab got through too easy and Whitaker deserved the win which he got by a unanimous decision.
The finals will take place in Wakefield on Saturday, good luck to the three lads competing.