It was another home turf sell-out as Bravehearts Amateur Boxing Club staged a show at the town hall in Whithorn last Saturday.
But things didn’t go as planned for the Bravehearts, as two of their national title holders had decisions go against them, much to the annoyance of the partisan audience.
The evening kicked off with three skills bouts involving club novices.
First in the ring was Braveheart Gavin Martin against Dan Yeomans of Carlisle Villa. Martin set the pace from the opening bell, and pushed Yeomans back for most of the round, landing punches from every angle.
The tiny terror had the audience on their feet in the second round with his “Ali shuffle”, and in the third he held the centre of the ring, dictating the action. Young Gavin is a name to watch out for in the future.
Bout two featured Barry Brawls of the Bravehearts against Ben Thomson of Carlisle Villa, and again, the home boxer was the livelier in the first round. Thomson tried to open up in the second, but left himself open to uppercuts from Brawls and, in the third, the pair had the crowd cheering as they scrapped toe to toe.
The third bout featured Braveheart Jamie Brawls against Harry Chandler of Darlington ABC. Brawls started with his hands far too low and Chandler used his right jab to good effect.
The second round was a furious affair with Brawls on the attack, and the third saw Chandler prove himself a handful as he forced Brawls to defend.
The first scoring bout saw young Reece Hughes of Bravehearts take on a replacement opponent, Harry Rosebottom of Nith Valley ABC.
From the start, Rosebottom dictated the action, picking off Hughes with sharp jabs every time he moved in.
In round two, Rosebottom stepped up the pace forcing Hughes back on the ropes, earning him a standing count from referee Ian Hyslop. The round ended as it started with young Hughes running out of steam as the punches came in.
Coach Tom Jolly signalled the ref that he wasn’t prepared to send Hughes back out for the third round against a far more experienced opponent.
The next contest, supposed to be scoring bout, was reduced to an exhibition as there was a big weight discrepancy between Liam Smith of Bravehearts and Liam Cooling of Scunthorpe Imps ABC.
Smith started well, taking the fight to the heavier Cooling, pushing him back with crisp jabs. The second round was even with both boys exchanging flurries, but Smith was coming off better, jabbing well off the breaks.
In the third round, the referee had to warn both boxers it was an exhibition bout, as they went toe to toe, and by the end of the round, it was Smith who was looking sharper, and would have edged the fight.
Bout six between Ewan Smith of Bravehearts and Lloyd Holden of Carlisle Villa was also reduced to exhibition status.
Holden’s southpaw style had Smith on the back foot, and every time he tried to jab, Holden replied with left hooks. Smith settled in the second, firing off some good combinations and fought back into contention.
In the third, Smith had Holden back-pedalling, as he found this way through the southpaw defence with stinging jabs and body shots.
The seventh bout also fell foul of the weight discrepancies by the shortest of margins as Kian Carnochan of Bravehearts took on Joe Fogg of Currock House ABC.
Carnochan started with all guns blazing, pushing Fogg back with flurries of lefts and rights.
Fogg began coming back in the second, but Carnochan kept up the pressure with good right hooks.
In the third, Carnochan appeared to tire and Fogg was quick to take advantage with some stinging combinations. This was a cracking encounter and the judges would have had a hard job separating this pair had it been a scoring bout.
The top of the card featured three of the Bravehearts’ big guns, but two misfires did not please the home crowd.
First was Scottish Schoolboy Champion Tyler Jolly against Nathan Smith of Darlington ABC.
Jolly started cautiously against the southpaw, but his high jabs to the head saw him take several solid right hands to the ribs. Although Jolly’s corner urged him to move to the left, Smith countered by moving right before unleashing good combinations.
Both started the second showing each other respect but it was Jolly who ended on top, picking off Smith with left jabs.
In the third, Jolly started well, but midway he began letting his hands drop, and Smith was quick to step in with some great right jabs followed by stinging left crosses. The unanimous decision went to Smith.
The penultimate bout saw area and district champion Connal McDonald take on Cameron New of Renfrewshire ABC.
McDonald started well, happy to work inside rather than use his superior reach. McDonald unleashed some thunderous rights to the body, but New continued to come forward, earning a couple of warnings from referee Ian Hyslop for holding.
McDonald began the second using his longer reach to keep New at bay, and countering with great body shots. Some good exchanges followed, but towards the last minute, McDonald again allowed New to get in close and both boxers ended up mauling.
The last round saw McDoanld start from long range again with good left-right combinations, but New continued his spoiling style, coming in low, then catching McDonald. McDonald finished the third strongly with punishing straight rights into New’s face.
When the referee announced a majority verdict to New, the audience booed for the first time on the night, and McDonald could not believe the decision and coaches Wullie Martin and Tom Jolly were very unhappy.
The last bout was a real crowd pleaser, with local favourite Ryan Fairhurst taking on Connor Sharp of Alloa ABC.
It started scrappily, with Fairhurst not able to fire in his trademark long-range shots as Sharp stayed in close.
It was toe to toe and Mr Hyslop had to have a word with both boxers. The action started again with Fairhurst managing to keep Sharp at arm’s length and deliver some clean shots.
Round two started with Sharp again trying to muscle Fairhurst into the corners, but Fairhurst’s footwork kept him out of danger.
In the third round, Fairhurst used his footwork to stay away from Sharp, picking him off with solid head shots. A couple of left and right combinations saw Sharp tiring. Sharp came out fast in the final round, and again Fairhurst’s footwork kept him out of range, allowing him to fire off left and rights.
Midway through the round, Fairhurst stepped up another gear and tore into Sharp with clean shots, earning him a standing ovation.
When the unanimous decision went to Fairhurst, the home crowd almost raised the roof with their cheers.
The Cloy/Maguire Trophy for best home boxer was presented to Ryan Fairhurst and the CGR Trophy for best away boxer went to Cameron New of Renfrew.
Coach Wullie Martin said: “It is sometimes difficult to get everything right on the night, but whether they box an exhibition bout or a scoring bout, all these lads have trained hard and give 100 percent in the ring.
“Sometimes you disagree with the decisions of the judges and the referee, but you just have to accept it and look forward to the next fight.
“This is where discipline comes into boxing. You may not like the result, but you shake your opponent’s hand and get on with it.”
By Bob Low