THE GB championships proved to be a superb night of boxing at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield on Thursday (December 5). With a lighting rig, entrance music and atmosphere normally reserved for professional events, the contests themselves were all fought with ferocity and genuine determination. The tournament pitted contenders from the Home Nations against GB representatives with an alluring prize on offer – a trial with the Olympic squad for any victors not already on the British team. That incentive must have contributed to intensity on display. The competitors all wanted to win, and it showed.

The bout of the night saw Conor Tudsbury in his first outing in a GB vest collide with England’s Aaron Bowen for a three-round thriller at 81kgs. Bowen has had a stellar 2019, winning the England Boxing national championships in style. Aaron is strong and heavy handed. Initially Tudsbury kept his gloves up and moved back. Bowen’s right shot out for him and he fired in a strong straight one-two combination. But Tudsbury made sure his left hook connected with Bowen’s body. He put weight into that weapon, landing it well in the second round.

“Aaron Bowen’s a very fit opponent. He just keeps working and he doesn’t stop. So after the first round I had to think in my head that I have to match him, match his pace,” Tudsbury said. “I didn’t get hurt, but he was scoring shots so I give him that. I do a lot of sparring with pros, they’re mentally and physically mature so I think that gave me an edge.”

In the third Tudsbury slammed through a fine right cross and attacked Bowen on the inside, pumping out punches. Aaron let his right hook bomb into Tudsbury’s body. He took the weight of it well and it was his left hook that broke through again. It thumped into the side of Bowen’s head and handed him a standing count before the close of the contest. Bowen came roaring back but Tudsbury skipped off, flinging out jabs. He found another opening for his right and took a unanimous decision win.

“This is only the beginning,” a delighted Tudsbury said afterwards. “I’ve only been on GB about six weeks. From then I can tell I’m getting better and I’m just going to be getting even better. [Bowen] has had an amazing year, he won the ABA championships. It drove me even more to even beat him. Because I wanted that spot.”

Tudsbury has only had a handful of senior contests but was going in with a national champion. “I feel I’ve got the ability to do that, just get thrown in the deep end against good opponents,” he said. “I’m over the moon that I beat him today.

“I’m very proud to be representing GB and I hope that I can do it a lot more in the future.”

Middleweight Ramtin Musah also excelled. England’s Jimmy Tyres pushed forward while the GB boxer manoeuvred round the ring. Musah jabbed into Tyres’ attacks and lashed in a hard cross. Tyres powered into Musah in the last round. Even as he drove Ramtin back, Musah slung his right in as Tyres came on. It was Musah who made sure of a unanimous decision win.

Wales’ Jake Dodd sprang a remarkable upset when he beat GB flyweight Will Cawley. Relaxed and moving smoothly in the first round, Cawley roundly outboxed Dodd in that session. He let combinations fly in to pick off Dodd while taking few shots himself. The referee even deducted a point from Dodd in the second round. But that spurred the Welshman into action. He barrelled into Cawley, wielding his right hook. He jolted Will with a fine right uppercut. He pressed home the assault in the third, sustaining the pressure. The impressive rally was enough to edge out Cawley on a split decision.

Two England boxers went in with one another at 61kgs. Both Subaan Ahmed and Joe Tyres performed well. Ahmed let a fast one-two loose but Tyres began to target the body with crisp right hooks. Joe edged on to the front foot, while Ahmed tried to ward him off with fine jabs. Even when a cut opened over Ahmed’s left eye, Subaan responded by landing a straight one-two. Tyres though unleashed a barrage of shots, forcing a standing count before the contest was over and winning a unanimous decision.

At lightweight, GB’s Hannah Robinson avenged a loss to England’s Kirsty Hill at the national championships earlier this year. Birtley’s Robinson took a split points decision win. “Back then, it felt like all the pressure was on me,” Robinson said of their first bout, “but tonight I knew what I needed to do and had been working on it in the gym. I just stuck to the tactics and it paid off. It was a really great night, the crowd was excellent and I had a lot of family and friends here so it felt like I had a lot of support.”

Raven Chapman was a GB boxer overturned by England’s representative Jade Pearce. Chapman threw good combinations and landed strong shots to the body. Pearce though connected with a right uppercut and pushed forward behind her cross. Pearce took a split points decision win.

GB flyweight Chloe Watson outscored Wales’ Helen Jones on a
split decision.

Scotland’s Tyler Jolly stepped in to take on GB Youth Olympic medallist Hassan Azim in a quality welterweight contest. Azim’s right hook connected, while Jolly slammed a hard left hook into him. In the second round Azim fired back, throwing punches as he sprang off the ropes. Jolly flung his right in. He came forward again, feinting with the right to land his lead left. In the last round both sent thumping rights in to connect. Jolly again attacked with aggression, Azim landing a jab before moving back. Jolly concluded with a left hook on the final bell, taking a close split decision win.

Sam Leyson scored another victory for Wales, as he defeated England’s Thomas Pogson on a split decision at 91kgs. Courtney Bennet, one of GB’s developing super-heavyweights, took on England’s Gideon Antwi. Bennet slammed a hefty right down on Antwi but an accidental clash of heads left Gideon with a cut that halted the encounter early, in the second round. The bout went to the cards with Bennet taking the points verdict.