The senior ABA championships get underway this evening for the Tyne, Tees and Wear region as many boxers look to make their name in the prestigious competition.
Sunderland ABC host the event at the Rainton Meadows Arena, and all boxers will know that winning this event nationally can lead to bigger and better things; just ask previous champions such as Amir Kahn or Carl Froch and even this regions own Tony Jeffries.
Now known as the Elite ABAE Championship, the national final had added prestige last year after it was televised live on Boxnation TV.
Tonight the preliminary rounds of the regional section get under way with boxers fighting to earn a place in next Friday’s regional finals, where they’ll fight to become North East champion.
Wellington’s Josh Leather was TTW’s only winner last season and he will be expected to go far again this year. The talented boxer really impressed last year and retaining his title will undoubtedly put his name in the mix for bigger things such as a place on the GB squad.
The region did, however, have a very successful year last year and no fewer than seven boxers appeared in finals live on Boxnation.
Two were Leather’s Wellington team mates in Louis Cunningham and Peter Martin.
Both have had a busy week this week after on Tuesday both represented England at the same venue as tonight’s event, in the international match with Sweden that was billed as Scandamania.
Both were unsuccessful but will have learnt a lot from the experience.
Martin said: “It was the best feeling ever to represent my country and with my family in attendance. It was just the icing on the cake seeing the pride in their faces. I did think I had done enough to edge my tight contest.
“I’m now entering the ABA’s and I got to the final last year so hopefully I can go one better and win them this year. I thought I was unlucky not to last year. I don’t mind boxing again so soon after Tuesday either, I’ve boxed twice in one night on two occasions before so it wont bother me.”
Two other North East boxers boxed for England on Tuesday and, draw permitting, could be in action tonight.
One was Jordan King who, after the closure of Hetton Town ABC, now boxes out of Birtley. The big man is never in a dull fight and will be hoping to use his international victory to propel him further in this year’s competition.
Josh Kelly (Houghton and District ABC) was also victorious for England on Tuesday in what was first international senior bout.
Kelly last season won a third ABA national title when he won the junior crown but this steps up to test himself in the seniors.
Kelly goes in on inspired form. His victory on Tuesday over someone seven years his senior was preceded by his fantastic effort at the World Youth Championships in December in which he brought home a bronze medal. Quite an achievement in his first ever international tournament.
However, Josh knows that winning a fourth national crown this season will be difficult and said: “I boxed regularly in the World Championships so boxing again so soon isn’t going to be an issue.
“I always strive to be the best in whatever I do but I have to be realistic and it’s going to be tough. Ideally I would like to get out off the regional stages and then anything else after that point will be a bonus. I obviously want to win the seniors eventually though, and the sooner the better!”
As always there will be some top talent on show over the course of tonight and next week’s TTW events. Names such as Warren Cassap (Lambton Street), Joseph Maphosa (Middlesbrough) and Lewis Ritson (Forest Hall) are certainly ones to look out for.