YOUTH OIympic bronze medalist Hassan Azim had a scare in the semi-finals of the NABGC championships at Tudor Grange Kingshurst in Birmingham on Sunday (November 24).

Ivan Duniak (Rotunda) pushed him to a split points decision in Class D at 69kgs. For a round and a half, Azim (Hoddesdon) mostly fell short with his punches before finding his range and in the final minute of the second Azim landed left hooks, bringing cheers from his many supporters. The third was another tight round and Azim landed enough right hands to nick it.

Also in Class D, there was late drama when Jamie Edwards (Triumph) and Connor Sams (Northumberland Fire and Rescue) met. For two rounds, Edwards was mostly on the receiving end against the strong Sams, looking to add
to the Development title he won last season. Midway through the last, Edwards detonated a right hand that turned Sams’ legs rubbery and the referee gave him a standing eight count. Edwards, who won his previous two bouts in the competition inside a round, couldn’t find another similar punch and once his head had cleared, Sams was back on the front foot.

Edwards’ clubmate Bradley Goldsmith is on course for back-to-back NABGC titles after reaching the Class D final at 75kgs. The 21-year-old southpaw reached the semi finals with three straight first-round stoppages and though Curtis Fitzsimmons (Middleton Select) made it through to the final bell, he was well beaten.

Eastside’s Ibrahim Shakil was crowned Development champion in Banbury a few weeks ago and he’s through to this weekend’s NABGC final in Class D at 52kgs following a unanimous points win over I. Naseeb (Phoenix Fire).

In Class C, Josh Martin (Stoke Staffs) and F. McGowan (Salisbury) put everything into their 81kgs clash. Martin won a really hard battle unanimously on the scorecards. The taller Martin was relentless, walking through some heavy punches to drive McGowan into the corners and unload flurries to body and head.

The bell to end the first came at a good time for McGowan, moments after a volley of punches made his knees dip, and the second was another tough round for him. He was grabbing early in the session and took a count late, but in between, McGowan gave as good as he got, crashing some heavy punches off Martin’s chin that he ignored.

The third was more of the same, Martin taking a few, but landing more and handing McGowan another count to put the seal on his victory.

Punch of the day was thrown by another boxer from the Potteries, Shay Johnston, who had his father, ex-professional Danny, in his corner. Boxing for Orme, Johnston crashed a left hook off Faiz Raja’s chin in the opening round of their Class B clash at 75kgs, turning the Ingles’ boxer’s legs rubbery.

The referee decided on the completion of the ‘eight’ count that Raja was unable to continue.

The referee insisted the crowd applaud both Cody Smith (Hull Boxing Centre) and Lloyd Farrington (Hoddesdon) after they produced a grandstand finish to their Class B semi final at 54kgs. Smith won on points.

At 60kgs Ellis Grant, a former Schoolboy champion from Transport ABC, really shone, outpointing Brian McDonagh (Pinewood Starr) on a split. The well-supported McDonagh found Grant slippery and heavy handed in a good bout.

The towering Connor Young (Oldhill) also impressed, handing Joshua Slater (Ashton Albion) two counts on the way to a unanimous points win that took him through to the final at 80 plus kgs. For a round, Young, beaten in the Development final a few weeks ago, boxed on the move before coming down off his toes in the second to produce a moment of real quality. He opened up Slater’s guard with a feint and then drilled a left-right through the gap, the punches landing cleanly to knock him onto his heels. The referee stepped in for an ‘eight’ count and Joshua took another in the last.

The best action in Class A came at 80kgs where the stocky and strong Joe Harris (Technique) tore into Teon Graham (Priory Park) for two rounds – handing him a count in the opener and bloodying his nose – before Graham fired back in the last.

Harris took a count after shipping some heavy shots, but had done enough in the opening two rounds to win unanimously.

At 63kgs, Bell Green body puncher Jenson Todd edged out L. Biswana (Gemini) on a desperately close split decision after a very watchable bout.


Trowbridge shines while Sains thrills, writes Daniel Herbert

THERE were notable displays of skill and power when the London vs Essex/South East quarter-final of the NABGC Championships was held at Dagenham Roundhouse on November 17.

The skill came in the all-southpaw Class C 49 kgs bout (a national semi-final because of no other Southern entries) between Guildford City’s Ellis Trowbridge and Harry Mullins (Churchills). Both excelled, but Trowbridge – cheered on by his father Duke McKenzie, former three-weight world pro champion – was that little bit sharper.

The power came from Repton’s Jimmy Sains at 69kgs in Class D. In these championships last year Sains had closely outscored Rio Gordon, but this time he blew the Harwich boxer away inside a round.

A short right dropped Gordon early on before a follow-up attack brought him a standing count. But just when it seemed the Essex boxer might survive the crisis, an explosive right hand sent him crashing down for a knockout ending.

Repton lost two very tight 3-2 split decisions against Kent Gloves 56kgs entries. Southpaw William Birchall beat Khalil Osman Ghadiri in Class C and Lewis Southgate edged switch-hitter Amo Singh in Class D.

Hassam Hassim, already tall for 52kgs, dropped down to 49 and enjoyed a huge height advantage over Ben Litwin (Turners BA) in their Class D national semi. But Litwin used his much more seasoned technique to win unanimously, even putting a count on the Fisher novice in round two.

Another unlikely Class D pairing saw Earlsfield light-heavy Omar Augustine, a NABGC champion last term, prove too strong for unheralded Peterborough Police’s Brian Lawless, who took two counts in the last but gamely reached the final bell.


England take victory against Ireland in team match. Matt Bozeat is ringside in Cannock

EUROPEAN champions Royston Barney-Smith and Shane Patterson were winners for England in their 4-3 victory over Ireland at Bar Sport on Saturday (November 23).

15-year-old Barney-Smith, twice a European Schoolboy gold medalist, outpointed Martin McCullough in a match between southpaw counter-punchers that never ignited. In each round, there were more feints than punches thrown as both were reluctant to lead off and risk making a mistake.

Barney-Smith took more chances, landed more punches and at the final bell, four of the five judges had him winning, his 43rd win in 48 bouts.

The match between Patterson, 2018 European Schoolboy champion, and Ireland’s Mustafa Edris was another meeting of left handers, unanimously won by the Englishman. Again, there weren’t too many clean punches landed and when they did engage, midway through the second round, Edris ended up taking a count.

After a cagey opening round and a half, the Irish teenager decided to be more positive and ran into a blurring flurry of punches that made him touch down in the centre of the ring.

The wins for Patterson and Royston-Barney added to a points victory for Kelsey Oakley over Breda Marie Quilligan to put England 3-1 up at the interval.

Combination puncher Savannah Stubley extended the lead by unanimously outpointing Nicole Clyde in a Youth flyweight contest. Stubley met every Clyde advance with combinations to body and head and when she stepped in behind her punches midway through the opener, she drove Clyde into a neutral corner to force a standing count.

Clyde didn’t find her range until the final minute of the second round and that set up a closer final round. Again, Stubley got the better of it.

Ireland won the last two contests of a good night’s boxing. Niamh Fay, crowned European Youth champion earlier this year, was all over Sameenah Toussaint until the referee waved the bout off midway through the second after handing the English boxer a third count.

Evelyn Igharo was a clear winner of the final bout, unanimously outpointing England’s spirited Chloe McDermott in a Youth contest.

Chloe Gabriel, this year’s European Junior champion, had got Ireland off to a winning start, picking clean singles against Megan Bainbridge to win unanimously on the scorecards.

In a club bout, Leicester Unity’s Vinny Huczmann, bronze medallist at the European Junior championship, kept Reece Harris-Mann (Scarborough) under control with his lead hand and won unanimously.