BIRTLEY boxing club finished the England Boxing National Amateur Championships with three Elite titlists, each of whom came through intense contests that were compelling to watch at Manchester Central on Saturday.

In the 54kgs final Shaun Huddart [above] turned back the determined challenge of Dagenham’s Darren Bailey. The Londoner quickly closed in. But Huddart took control of the distance between them in the first round, landing his jab as he stepped back. Moving off, still he fired in straight shots.
Bailey cranked up the pressure in the second round, continuing his attacks. But though he caught Huddart with good shots, the Birtley boxer weathered the storm. He opened up himself in the third round, finishing an exchange with his left hook and winning by split decision.

Huddart’s clubmate Jack Dryden [pictured below] was also in an exciting final, even if his 57kgs contest with Croxteth’s Jack Turner rapidly spiralled out of control. Turner bombed into him wildly to open the bout, giving Dryden a standing count early in the first round. Dryden lined up a straight one-two, but Turner was swinging wide hooks at him with spite. Jack struck with a long cross again. In the second round he clipped Turner with a stunning uppercut. The Croxteth boxer lost the shape to his boxing, as he engaged in a frenzied assault. They collided, caught up in a near grapple. Turner had a point taken off for holding. Dryden would too. But it was Turner whose infractions were persistent. After the referee docked two further points from him for holding he had to disqualify the Croxteth boxer.

The third Birtley champion on the day was middleweight Dan Toward. He took on Repton’s Jimmy Sains, a boxer with good technique and impressive power. But using footwork Toward, a southpaw, offset him. He wouldn’t let Sains pin him down. Shifting well on his feet, throwing out feints, Dan evaded Jimmy’s jab. He caught Sains with a hefty cross and flung his backhand hook round to catch the Londoner’s jaw. Toward was boxing well but Sains showed how dangerous he can be in the last round. He blasted big punches into Toward, slowing him down as he drove in hard hits. Toward’s work suddenly became ragged under that pressure but he had the heart to fire back, finishing the bout slinging punches back at Sains up close. He took a unanimous decision and a big win.

It’s the first time Birtley have had three national Elite champions on the same day since Calum French, Pat and Luke McCormack all won in 2015.

Jack Dryden in the National Amateur Championships final
Clive Wood/England Boxing

The highest quality of the final of the day was probably the 70kgs showdown between Halliwell’s Cindy Ngamba and Omarah Taylor of Box Smart Elite. Light on her feet, Taylor moved in and out. But Ngamba began to time her strikes as Taylor came in. Solid jabs suppressed Omarah’s work and Ngamba would land excellent crosses, powering those shots in to takes a unanimous decision victory.

Moss Side Fire’s Pat Brown was awarded the trophy for boxer of the tournament. He started the 92kgs final calmly against Heart of Portsmouth’s Iman Zahmatkesh. Brown doubled quick jabs and sunk in a lead left hook. Zahmatkesh would turn to the referee to complain. That got him a point deducted. Brown was steadily outboxing him. He brought in hard rights, hurtful shots that Zahmatkesh had to absorb and took a unanimous decision win.

Brown already has a place on the GB squad. He’ll want to push his case for selection for the Commonwealth Games now.

Another outstanding male boxer was Hoddesdon’s Ellis Trowbridge. In the 48kgs final the southpaw targeted the body of Ibrahim Kola with straight lefts before aiming clean punches to the head. He stepped out to defuse the Metro boxer’s attacks, generally marshalling the action and winning by unanimous decision. Like Brown, Trowbridge became a two-time national Elite champion.

Fearless’ Hamza Uddin delivered the most spectacular finish of the finals. Thom Marley’s defence had openings and Uddin helped himself to them. He struck the Lambton Street boxer with a huge right uppercut. Marley swung back but only left himself vulnerable. Uddin’s left uppercut scraped through and he unleashed combinations, knocking Marley into a corner, hurting him and the flyweight had to be stopped.

At 57kgs West Warwicks’ Elise Glynn impressed when she outpointed the Army’s Keeley Austerfield in their final. Seul Bee Lee managed her 52kgs final with MGG’s Shelby Lee wisely. The Met Police southpaw seized the first round by coming forward, being aggressive and not letting Shelby settle. The MGG boxer loosened up and began to ping Seul Bee Lee with relaxed counters. Shelby Lee got on the front foot in the last round as the Met Police boxer continually moved off, but Seul Bee Lee saw out the session and took a unanimous decision.

Repton’s Giorgio Visioli boxed with style as he won the men’s 60kgs title. Against Hull’s Codie Smith, even with his hands low, the southpaw whipped in his right hook to set up a left cross. In the second round he kept up a combination of punches. He snagged Smith with a flush left, although the Hull boxer was competitive throughout. Smith darted in behind a strong right. Visioli worked the body too, throwing multiple hooks. He let a lead uppercut burst through and took a split decision, a revenge win for Visioli as Smith had beaten him last year.

Harvey Dykes became the super-heavyweight champion when he beat Hoddesdon’s Gideon Antwi. It wasn’t easy for either boxer but Dykes changed the direction of his movement, worked his southpaw jab as Antwi came for him, sometimes sweeping his left across, at other times stepping into clinches to scrap up-close. Dykes took a unanimous decision victory.

In the women’s lightweight final the patience of Lucy Kings-Wheatley, of Acocks Green, won out against Vivien Parsons. Kings-Wheatley stood off, catching the Afewee boxer with a countering right. Parsons kept her gloves high, coming on to loop in a good right herself. But Kings-Wheatley didn’t give away too many opportunities, chopping her right down to escape from exchanges and edging Parsons out on a split.

At 63kgs Metro’s Sarah Dunne pushed Peacock southpaw Sacha Hickey hard. She drove her right in and forced her way into close range. Hickey looked to tag her with a lead hook and, although Dunne didn’t let Hickey establish her accustomed rhythm, the Peacock boxer took a split decision.

Ivan Duniak’s power was clear as he boxed for Rotunda in the 71kgs final. He slammed hard right hands into St. Pauls’ Ted Jackson, his blows landing with an audible crunch. But Jackson stung Duniak back in the first round, handing him a standing count. Duniak continued to hit with solid force. He screwed his left into Jackson’s jaw. Ivan blocked a double left hook but Jackson sent another right down. The St. Pauls boxer began to counter Duniak as he came in, shooting an accurate cross through. Ivan still caught him with eye-catching blows but Jackson took a unanimous decision.

In their 50kgs final Empire’s Savannah Stubley started brightly. She landed clusters of punches and moved round Terri Naylor to prevent the Fight For Peace boxer from walking her down. Naylor however continued to come on strong and in the second round her punches started to break through. She lost a point for failing to keep her head up and that meant she needed a big last round. Naylor had her moments, jolting Stubley with her right but it wasn’t enough to deny the Empire boxer a unanimous decision victory.

Teagn Stott, of the Sheffield Boxing Centre, would regret giving away the second round of his 86kgs final to Torbay’s Ben Andrews. Stott boxed well in the last round, a quick right landing up close even buckled Andrews at the knees momentarily but it was the Torbay boxer who won a split decision.

CSM’s tall southpaw Isaac Okoh came away from his 80kgs final with a split decision win over Five Star’s Oladimeji Shittu.

Churchill’s Demi Carter was also a split decision victor in the women’s middleweight final. She overcame West Warwicks’ Jerry-Lee Palmer.
At 66kgs Braunstone southpaw Dionne Burman outscored the Army’s Lucy Kisielewska, putting together fine combinations. She aimed a right at Kisielewska’s body to send her left over to the head. Leading off and finishing a salvo with her back hand, she landed firm punches and took a unanimous decision.

Christ the King’s Huey Malone won the welterweight crown, coming through a physical battle with White Hart Lane’s Cameron McKay. Both were aggressive and busy, even as the work became rough as they were caught up in clinches. Shrugging off a point deduction for the positioning of his head, Malone won a split points verdict. White Hart Lane had a second finalist in Mitchell Asare. But Louie O’Doherty, of Halstead and Essex Uni, made sure of a unanimous points win to take the 63.5kgs championship.

With former World amateur champion Frankie Gavin in her coaching team, Hall Green’s Holly Heffron performed well against St. Ives’ Megan Morris. She launched her one-two, those straight shots catching Morris. The St. Ives boxer did reply, throwing in her left hook after a cross. But Heffron clipped her as she came forward. She threw her cross well and won a split decision.

At 48kgs Kelsey Oakley of Priory Park became the first champion on the day, outpointing LCB’s Ella Harris. The latter worked to get forward and push punches through. But though Harris stuck to her task, Oakley was that bit flashier, more dangerous as she led with her back hand and she won a unanimous decision.