Connal goes down to champ in quarter-final

Scotland boxer Connal McDonald, from Whithorn Bravehearts, lost a close quarter final to the eventual winner at last week’s European Youth Championships in Rotterdam.

In last Thursday night’s 91kg divison, 16-year-old Connal came up against the current world heavyweight youth champion, Andre Stotskiy from Russia.

The Russian boxer was fresh from his first round stoppage of his previous opponent but Connal looked to disrupt Stotskiy’s natural rhythm early on in the first round, with the Braveheart determined not to let the Russian dominate. Slow to fast footwork was key for Connal to use the element of surprise. Clever use of the front foot as the range finder ensured Connal kept a positive approach throughout, and did find success with straight punching.

However, the 91kg world number one kept his composure under the incoming threats, defying his size and stature with the fast reactions.

There was solid composure from Connal throughout the first three minutes, but the Russian had bagged the round.

Moments after the bell had sounded for the second round, Connal walked his opponent down, dropped the lead shoulder for the dummy then sent a ballistic rear hand over Stotskiy’s slow returning jab, catching the Russian bang on the chin – a cracker which even received admiration from the Russian contingent.

The Russian responded by slipping into top gear, undoubtedly using attack as the best form of defence after being rattled by the game Scottish boxer. Connal weathered the storm well.

Drifting in and out of mid-long range, the Russian was landing with accurate punches followed by lateral movement to nullify Connal’s countering opportunities. Although another solid performance by the battling Scotsman, it looked like Stotskiy had got the better share of the second round.

With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Connal set out in the final round buzzing that he was pushing the world number one all the way. And it would prove to be a fantastic three minutes of boxing from the much lesser experienced Braveheart, immediately forcing Stotskiy on the back foot with aggressive movement. Covering all four corners of the ring, the first half of the round saw Connal landing with the cleaner punches and astonishingly answering every action Stotskiy applied to him. However, the Russian began to find the gaps again as the round matured, mustering up all of his experience and ring savvy to regain the initiative of the round. When the nine-minute battle came to an end, Connal could be delighted with a great round of boxing against the world’s best, with the vast majority agreeing that the Scot had won the last round. As expected though, the Russian took the deserved decision over the Scottish battler, but there is absolutely no doubting that Stotskiy had to work hard to secure the win. With the Russian coaches even acknowledging the technical and tactical expertise of Scotland’s 16-year-old heavyweight, Connal and Scotland should be extremely proud!

The Whithorn Braveheart Amateur Boxing Club will resume training on Monday night, August 26, at 7pm in the New Town Hall, Whithorn. New members welcome.