By Dennis Dodge – Newbury Racecourse hosted Thames Valley ABC’s annual amateur showcase on April 6th, with boxers from across the Home Counties expectations were high as spectators filled the seats, had a bite to eat and eagerly awaited the youngsters that could be carrying the flag for the next few years.
Skills bouts were up first and my lad Stanley Dodge was TVABC’s first boxer out against William Eva (Alive ABC), Stan was out to impress after a very disappointing showing last time out and it really showed. Primarily a defensive fighter he took the centre of the ring for the first 30 seconds throwing a nice looking jab and keeping Eva off balance. He tried desperately to rally and find some success but Stan kept a tight guard and boxed beautifully off the back foot peppering his opponent with jabs and backhands whilst deflecting everything else. Credit must go to Eva though as he never stopped coming and had some success when manoeuvring Stan into the corner. Both boys got and deserved a second round of applause at the final bell.
Next up was Ysobel Dodge in her long awaited debut as she took on the extremely skilful Symayyah Smith (Priory Park ABC), both girls were nervy at the start but Symayyah took the centre of the ring and kept the smaller girl at bay with strong looking jabs. Taking after her brother Ysobel took the defensive route and sat back to counter punch but Smith was too fast sometimes and pushed her back. A really good technical bout by both girls and Ysobel left the ring absolutely beaming with pride and happiness. Time will tell but we’ve got some real superstars on show.
The skills bouts are done, the lights seem to fade as we get ready for the proper bouts, and expectations are high tonight as we have a lot of very good boxers but will they shine on the night.
Young Bobby Jury is up for TVABC, a fantastic talent who has wowed in his last few skills bouts takes the step up against Andre Rayner-Whitby of Guildford City. Bobby dominated the bout in my opinion from start to finish, he looked the much stronger of the 2 and pushed Whitby back on numerous occasions. Whilst Whitby rallied in the second round Jury came back even stronger in the 3rd and was unlucky not to give his opponent a few standing counts. The crowd was absolutely silent as the result was read out and Whitby was declared the victor by unanimous decision.
One of the most exciting fighters in the home counties was up as Ashton Duncan swaggered out to the ring to face Jude Watkins (Crawley ABC), alas the bout was a short one as Duncan started very strongly and pummelled Watkins until with a shake of the head to his coaches, Crawley threw the towel in as a jubilant Ashton celebrated in the ring.
The following fight was much of the same although Kyle Carter (High Wycombe) issued the lesson to our own Robert Ruggerio, too slick and too fast for the taller lad, Ruggerio was pulled out before the end of the 1st whilst Carter whooped it up in the middle of the ring. (Fully deserved I might add)
The technically brilliant and owner of the best jab in the Home Counties (if not the UK) Jake Tillen stepped into the ring and faced off against Jack Smith (Alive ABC), Tillen took immediate control with his jab (I must have bored the people around me going on about that), and forced his opponent back throughout the first round (throwing I believe around 99 punches,) the 2nd round saw Jake come on in confidence and up his power as he started to up the ante and threw many hurtful looking punches into Smith’s body and head, the crowd roared as the ref stepped in, but after allowing Smith to adjust his gum shield, the massacre was allowed to continue until Jakes hand was raised in victory.
Harvey Stevens was the final schoolboy for Thames Valley as he agreed to a tough bout with Berinsfields Joe Patterson a 50/50 on paper, Stevens got rid of that early on as he took control in the first settling down with small combinations and hard hooks. A perfect shot midway through the second saw Patterson hit the canvas but he gamely got to his feet and carried on. Harvey in his element controlled the 1st round but as is his want stepped off the gas in the 2nd allowing Patterson to throw some of his own combinations. After a talking to from head Coach Paul (Nobby) Cooke. Harvey was out rejuvenated for the 3rd and once again took control easily turning Patterson away as he desperately looked for a knockout he needed (or did he.) Much to the crowds displeasure (there was an audible groan from the seating only section) Patterson had his hand raised and Harvey was left to contemplate what more he could have done. Whilst he did take it easier in the 2nd round I thought he’d done more than enough to take the first and third with ease. With any luck there’ll be a rematch further down the line where Harvey will have the chance to avenge the decision.
2 Youth bouts later and unfortunately Thames Valley lost both as Jack Tomlinson gave a good account of himself against Miley Cash (Pinewood ABC) but ultimately fell short as his opponent was quicker to the punch from the 2nd round onward. No shame in losing to Pinewood and Jack can be happy that he kept up Cash for most of the bout.
Connor Stafford must have wondered what Joe Goodwin (Devizes ABC) was made of as he tried to take the taller skinnier lad out within the first round but Good win seemed to soak up the punishment and throw it straight back at the Thames boxer. A razor thin fight but the 3rd round saw Connor slowing and Goodwin gaining the upper hand and ultimately the fight. A great bout and again maybe we can get this again further down the line.
Aaron Duncan was in our first senior contest which was a rematch between him and Harrison Notter (Leigh Park ABC) who won the first on an SD a few months back. A nervous Aaron beforehand looked the epitome of calm as he made his way to the ring and boxed to a plan to take the Unanimous Decision. Whilst he didn’t have everything his own way, Duncan boxed his opponent well and shown some of us that you don’t always need to thunder forward for the win. A different boxer to his brother Aaron was simply too good for Notter on the night and was the well-deserved winner and got a standing ovation for the display.
Final bout for Thames Valley saw highly touted Tom Soanes step up against Joel Forte (Moneyfields). A very exciting back and forth saw both fighters having periods of success as the bout went back and forth bringing the crowd to their feet numerous times especially as Tom forced Joel into the corner and thundered body punches in (If you’ve never been, it’s worth it just for the noise) the pressure couldn’t be kept up and when we rolled round to the end of the 3rd round Forte had his hand raised for a split decision win. Tom was disappointed but he’ll be back and better for the experience.
An absolutely fantastic night for all involved and massive thanks to all the coaches, volunteers and boxers that took part for our enjoyment. Here’s looking forward to the next few years at the venue.
Aaron Duncan picked up the Berkshire Youth Cup for best senior of the night.
Harvey Stevens was awarded best Junior of the night.
Connor Stafford took the Johnny Bremner trophy for heart and determination.