Friday night saw eight regional senior ABA champions crowned, with a further three walking over to the national pre-quarter final stage of the prestigious competition.
The pre-quarters take place at the same venue – Rainton Meadows Arena – this Saturday (16 March) and will be contested by the Tyne, Tees and Wear champions and the North West champions. The show will also host the minor schoolboys finals.
Houghton’s Josh Kelly (pictured above) is having a fantastic season. He ended 2012 by winning a bronze medal in his first international tournament at the World Youth Championships.
He followed that up with a victory in his first senior international against Sweden at Scandamania and now he can add becoming North East senior elite champion to that impressive list.
Kelly was the boxer of the night in defeating Phil Thomas’ Tab Simamane via a unanimous points decision.
Simamane was the attacking boxer in the bout, taking the fight to Kelly but it was Kelly’s great elusiveness that won him the fight.
Josh looked very classy slipping, sliding and weaving away from everything Simamane threw and then landing well on the counter. In the end it was a clear and comfortable victory for the Houghton man.
Last year’s only champion from the region Josh Leather (Wellington) is on route to retain his title. In the fight of the evening Leather won unanimously against South Durham’s James Archer, although the bout was tighter than a unanimous decision suggests.
Leather’s class was always on show throughout, in particular his ability to work off his strong jab, but Archer was game throughout and the two threw a lot of shots and were not afraid to stand and trade in the early stages.
Towards the latter stages Leather kept at distance and threw some tasty hooks from range meaning Archer struggled to get in range. When the South Durham boxer did get close enough he displayed great hand speed but ultimately, despite his brave performance, it was the reigning champion who advanced.
The Tyne, Tees and Wear qualified seven boxers in total for last years finals and of the six who were beaten finalists four won on Friday to advance further (Middlesbrough’s Joe Maphosa is also through walking over).
Ritson was brave and got on the inside with ease against a far rangier fighter in Whitfield and he caused two standing eight counts in the second round of a dominant display.
Two of Leather’s Wellington teammates kept the clubs impressive senior ABA record up by both advancing as North East champions.
Martin won via a unanimous points decision over Plains Farm’s Micky Laws in a performance from Martin that got better the longer the fight went.
Cunningham’s victory was also unanimous but was very tight against Pallister Park’s Jon Doherty. The Wellington man did enough though in a persistent performance, after being frustrated by Doherty’s tight defence.
Declan Fusco (South Durham) is the fourth boxer who reached last years final who advanced on Friday.
Last year he reached the 86kg final but was beaten by Deion Jumah (Dale Youth) in the final. Looking at him on Friday it still baffles how he managed to get down to 86kg but the tall man has moved up this year to the 91kg category.
That meant bad news for his opponent Lambton Street’s Warren Cassap, who last year reached the national semi-finals.
Cassap will go no further this year though after an unusually flat performance from the big man. Cassap is a great boxer and can hit big as well as use his boxing skill.
Fusco though was far taller than Cassap and the South Durham boxer’s strong boxing skills and jab meant that Cassap really struggled to get in range of Fusco. Cassap was game throughout and stood up to anything Fusco hit him with in trying to get on the inside but Fusco was to good and moved well to progress by a majority decision.
The Olympian’s only senior Liam Knight crashed out of the competition after being disqualified against Birtley’s Dean Laing. In a relatively poor bout, Knight’s persistent holding resulted in the referee disqualifying him in the third round after two previous warnings.
Michael Hatfield (Headland) and Michael Watson (Tootill) were the other two boxers who walked over to the pre-quarter finals.
All TTW champions will box on Saturday in the pre-quarters along with the national minor schoolboys finals. Boxing at the Rainton Meadows Arena is due to commence at 6:30pm with the full schedule below.
Senior ABA Pre-Quarter Finals & Minor Finals
Schoolboy Minor Class Final
Born 2001 3 X 1 ½ Min Rounds
32kg Josh Babb (Ward Degnans) V Cameron Smith (St Johns)
34kg Harry Kinsella (Kirkdale) V Lerone Harrison (Olivers)
36kg William Ward (Darlington) V Jack Silva (Pool of Life)
38kg Aaron Vaughan (Kirkby) V Michael Linfoot (Chorley)
40kg James Lepoidevin (Aycliffe) V Lewis Profitt (Beartown)
42kg Daniel Toward (Birtley) V Charlie Smith (Sandygate)
Senior ABA Pre-quarter finals
3 X 3 Minute Rounds
51kg Joe Maphosa (Middlesbrough) V Dean Murphy (Tuebrook)
54kg Aaron Hubery (Shildon) V Alex Foulkes (Wirral Community)
57kg Michael Hatfield (Headland) V Ryan Moorhead (Gemini)
60kg Joshua Leather (Wellington) V Chris McCormick (Higherside)
63.5kg Josh Kelly (Houghton & District) V Ryan Mulcahy (Everton Red Triangle)
67kg Lewis Ritson (Forest Hall) V Tom Simpson (Knowsley Vale)
71kg Louis Cunningham (Wellington) V Lloyd Campbell (Knowsley Vale)
75kg Peter Martin (Wellington) V Adam Farrell (Salisbury)
86kg Michael Watson (Tootill) V Shaun Hughes (Kirkby)
81kg Dean Laing (Birtley)
91kg Declan Fusco (South Durham)
91+ Alan Johnson (Sutton)
Minor Class champions Born 2001
28kg Caeron (Quinn Horden)
30kg Frank Thomas (Darlington)
44kg Levi Smith (Lancaster)
46kg Ryan Ridley (Forest Hall)
54kg George Cubbin (Croxteth)