Top-class amateur boxing returned to Chichester after a gap of nearly 15 years – and looks like it could be back for good.
St Gerards Boxing Club and Chichester Priory Rotary Club teamed up for a great night’s entertainment at Westgate Leisure and now aim to make it an annual event.
There were nearly 200 diners and 100 other spectators to watch and enjoy a professionally-put-together show.
The night went without a hitch and all present were treated to a night to remember with the pugilists providing a great show of amateur boxing.
First in the ring for the Chichester-based St Gerards was 16-year-old Xavier Southerton facing Harry Baker, also 16, from West Hill ABC of Hastings.
Both lads weighed around 65kg and Southerton was quick off the mark showing his strength and superior speed and boxing skills.
He controlled the fight to secure a very well-deserved points victory, although it was not unanimous.
Southerton was later named most outstanding home boxer of the night and picked up the award presented by Charlie Martin, a boxing stalwart from the VK Gym in Bognor, who sponsored the trophy. Martin said Southerton showed fantastic technical qualities and superb boxing skills.
Next up for the host club was 15-year-old Will Atha, having his first contest after a three-year break from the sport.
Atha, a giant of a lad weighing 87kg, was facing Arman Nalbandjan of Finchley & District. Atha started perfectly keeping his opponent at long range and it turned into a thriller with Atha boxing out of his boots but young Nalbadjan also giving his all.
The pair received the prize for the best contest of the night, presented by Billy Bessey ex-ABA heavyweight champion and multi Army heavyweight and superheavyweight champion, who said the lads reminded him of himself as a youngster.
Next was a senior contest over three two-minute rounds at welterweight with Pete Outen, in his first contest in two years, facing Robert Buxey of Titchfield.
Outen battled well but Buxey won by a unanimous decision – with Outen tipped for better results in the future.
The fourth contest was another senior affair with 17-year-old Mitchell Coward facing Ross Vince from Basingstoke.
Mitchell started well against a taller Southpaw opponent but the second round was much closer.
The third was similar but Coward’s higher work-rate couldn’t prevent Vince taking a majority decision – sparking calls for a rematch at a later date.
A senior heavyweight contest saw Luke Batstone of Moulescoombe ABC take on James Collins of Norwich Lads ABC go head to head over three three-minute rounds. Batstone won by a unanimous decision.
The show’s interval was a chance for the deserving officials and boxers to have a much-needed rest and replenish their energy levels with a meal and drinks organised by the Rotary Club.
The second half started with a bang with a senior minute contest at middleweight between Adam Holloway of the Royal Navy and Daniel Ray (3 Para, Parachute Regiment).
This was a humdinger as Ray tried to land big bombs all through the contest – with some success. Holloway, the more technical boxer, just wasn’t good enough on the night and Ray got a unanimous points decision.
A senior bout between Chris James of St Gerards and Nick May of Basingstoke had James as the more technically-sound boxer but not performing as well as he can - on his first contest in three years. May took a well-deserved unanimous points decision and James now leaves St Gerards to join the Army.
The final bout of the night was a senior contest at middleweight between Arron Cotton, a former pupil of Chichester High School for Boys and Danny Fuller of 3 Para.
Cotton is strong with a tough chin.
He gave Fuller a very bloody nose that the referee had to wipe clean, giving him a much-needed rest. In the third Cotton used more of his jab, as instructed, to secure a deserved points win – though again, it was not unanimous.
St Gerards thanked the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory, particularly Rotarian Ray Richardson, who worked very hard to put the night together which raised money for local clubs like St Gerards, in particular the work they do to keep youngsters on the straight and narrow.
They hope to make this an annual fixture.