LOOK out for Sahil Khan in this year’s NACs at 54kgs. The teenager from Fearless ABC shone when the pre quarter-finals were held at the Magna Centre last weekend. Khan, who has Junior ABA and NABGC titles and Haringey Box Cup gold on his CV, unanimously outpointed Army southpaw Owen Karau.

Khan kept Karau on the outside in the opener with his long, fast jab, slowing the pace and scored with singles when Karau quickened his feet in the second. The Midlander finished strongly as well, slamming several heavy shots off Karau’s chin in the last.

The quarter- and semi-finals take place this weekend (April 9-10) at the University of East London SportsDock (see here for further details).

Up at super-heavyweight, Gideon Antwi (Hoddesdon) set up a sixth clash with Courtney Bennett in the quarter-finals on Saturday with a split 3-2 points win over Ayo Barek (Romford).

2019 finalist Antwi looked puzzled by the referee’s decision to hand him a standing count in the second after Barek landed a left-right. It appeared to wake him up. He set about Barek in the third and landed a right-left from the southpaw stance that had him unravelling. Barek spent the rest of the fight retreating on rubbery legs pushing out tired punches and looking to grab. Antwi trails Bennett 4-1 in their head to head.

Barek’s clubmate Timothy Olla fared better at cruiserweright. He hit too hard for Eddie Gomez (Manchester 31) and it was all over in the second.
There wasn’t much between them in the opening round, but once Olla found his timing in the second, the end wasn’t far away. He had Gomez wobbling with rights to force an ‘eight’ count and then dumped him on the seat of his trunks with a series of left-rights. The referee waved it off instantly.

Adam Olaore (Empire) also went through at 86kgs, comprehensively outpointing Doru Mangos (Hoddesdon). Olaore, who took Aaron Bowen to a split in the quarter-finals at 81kgs last year, towered over Mangos and boxed to his strengths. Mangos looked to block and counter, but didn’t land anything of note until the second. Olaore shrugged off the right hand to the jaw and started to put together combinations that kept him in charge until the end.

There was good action at 75ks where Stephen Clarke (Rotunda) and Hall Green southpaw Will Smith went through. The polished Clarke, formerly an England representative at Youth level, unanimously outpointed the taller Joseph Kerrison (Lowestoft), while Smith was pushed harder by Mickey Parsons (Broadplains).

Smith countered off the front foot effectively in the opener before running onto some clean head punches in the second when he became reckless. The third looked decisive and Smith won it clearly, sending Parsons to his knees with a sweeping right hook he didn’t see coming to help clinch a 3-2 split decision.

Also tight was the 67kgs bout between southpaws Travis Waters (Sunderland) and Anton Esson (Baker Street). Four of the five judges had Waters ahead at the final bell, but it was desperately close. Esson had stopped his previous two opponents in the championship, but the taller Waters didn’t give him too many chances to land his bombs in the opening round. Esson closed the gap quicker in the second and targeted Waters’ ribs.
Esson jumped all over Waters at the start of the third as well, but after around a minute his feet and punches slowed, giving Waters the time and room to land some eye-catching long punches.

At 71kgs, Ivan Duriak (Rotunda) impressed in his unanimous points win over Jack Oliphant, the 2017 European Junior champion from Hoddesdon ABC.

The compact Duriak, a Youth champion in 2017, was quicker to settle, beating the taller Oliphant to the jab in the first round.

Though Oliphant was more purposeful in the second, Duriak was hard to catch cleanly. He moved his upper body well and pecked away with scoring punches to stay ahead.

Oliphant had his best moment in the last when he landed a left hook, but Duriak came back to finish strongly.

Lewis Musson (Tyneside) also went through at 71kgs. He stopped the wiry Christian Thomas (St Pancras) in the second. Musson had Thomas on rubbery legs with a left-right and another sent him down. The bout resumed and Musson needed only one more punch, a right hand to the chin sending shivers down the Londoner’s legs. The referee waved it off.

Connor Samms (North Fire and Rescue) was ferocious at 60kgs. The 2019 Development champion didn’t leave Theocharis Karzis (Hoddesdon) alone from first bell to last and won unanimously. After spending much of the opening round on the ropes, Karzis met Samms in the centre of the ring at the start of the second and looked to trade with him. Samms was too strong. He forced Karzis to the ropes and went to work, landing hooks and uppercuts, down and up. The ringside doctor looked at a wound over Karzis’ right eye in the second and again in the last.

William Hewitt (Leigh) and Will Gardiner (Parkstone) are also through at 60kgs. Hewitt was a unanimous points winner over the willing Sam Muddimer (1st Legion). Hewitt did a good job of boxing around Muddimer, who was always dangerous with his left hook. The bout between Gardiner and Blaise Binskin (Margate) was much closer, Gardiner going through on a 3-2 split verdict. Binskin put everything into the last round and southpaw Gardiner picked up a warning for ducking low, but Gardiner did enough in the first two on three of the cards.

Louie O’Doherty (Halstead) didn’t need the judges. The referee had to rescue Jamal Kayani (High Wycombe) in the second of their 63.5kgs clash after O’Doherty handed him three counts. O’Doherty coolly walked Kayani down, looking to land heavy shots on the counter. The first time O’Doherty found his chin, Kayani clearly felt it and the referee stepped in to give a count after two or three clean punches knocked his head back later in the round. O’Doherty didn’t go looking for the finish, just kept Kayani under pressure with his feet and waited for the gaps to appear.

Hamzah Ahmed (Fearless) and Blaine Lambert (RAF) also went through at 63.5kgs, recording split points wins over Anthony McKenna (Transport) and Robbie Chapman (Bilton) respectively.