“THE BEST ever”, Great show great venue”, “What an atmosphere, definitely coming again”, these were some of the comments after Arbroath Boxing Club’s 50th anniversary dinner show held in the Royal British Legion Scotland’s Helen Street function suite on Friday night.
Guest of honour was boxing legend Dick McTaggart who was happy to sign programmes and have his photograph taken by a ‘legion’ of fans delighted to be in the presence of a sporting great.
With Arbroath featuring in eight of the 10 bouts on the bill it was a busy night for coaches Iain MacLeod, Jamie Norman and Fraser Thirde, but they rose to the challenge and all the local boxers were well prepared for action.
First in the ring was Danny Bates in a schoolboy 36kg contest against south-paw Jamie Smith, Granite City. A fast and furious start saw Bates take the fight to Smith, hooking to the head as he bobbed and weaved inside his taller opponent’s reach. Smith rode out the storm and began to use his reach to good effect with long right jabs scoring points. Bates tried to keep up the pressure and landed hard shots to the head but the effort was taking its toll and he tired badly in the final round allowing Smith to score again with his straighter punching and win a points verdict over a defeated but not downhearted Danny Bates.
Liam Pytlak, boxing in the 49 kg division, was matched against Colin Stewart, Byron ABC. Once more the action was hectic from the first bell. Pytlack’s south-paw style was making things awkward for Stewart and he took a few hard straight lefts and right hooks in the opening exchanges. As the contest progressed Stewart began to have some success, pinning Pytlak on the ropes and firing in straight punches with both hands.
Pytlak covered up, defending well but too many punches were landing on target and scoring points. Round two was toe-to-toe action as neither would give ground to the other with honours more or less even. The final round went the way of Stewart, using good left jabs to rack up points. Pytlak tried to respond but he was just out of range with his attacks and Stewart won an exciting bout by a close points margin.
Recently crowned North District 47kg Schoolboy champion and reigning age group and weight Scottish Novice champion John Docherty was next up for Arbroath and he faced Nathan Levers, Denbeath. Docherty took control of the bout from the bell. Looking confident and boxing fluidly from his south-paw stance he kept Levers at distance scoring with some fast combinations.
Levers was game and strong and countered from his high guard but Docherty rode the punches and was never troubled. By round three Levers knew he needed a big effort to regain some ground and came out with all guns blazing, but Docherty was more than ready for this tactic and used his boxing skills to slip the onslaught and then take control with his continuous pressure. The verdict was a very well deserved unanimous points win for John Docherty.
Arbroath’s 70kg youth prospect Jamie McDowell took on Connor McComskie in one of the best bouts of the night. McDowell is a classic fighter and his style is less than orthodox but very effective as McComskie was finding out, taking heavy shots to head and body. The Fifer was strong and very game and came firing back with hard two fisted attacks of his own forcing McDowell to give ground.
At close quarters McDowell used a damaging right uppercut to great effect. Indeed in some of the infighting the crowd cheered every time he fired them in, three in quick succession at one point in round two. McComskie was unable to defend against this punch and began to get a bit ragged as the pressure and power from McDowell took its toll.
Into the third round and the action continued. McComskie was certainly brave but a tiring McDowell still had too much firepower and brought blood from the nose of his opponent with a hard straight right. Both boxers were glad to hear the bell and the judges awarded the verdict to Jamie McDowell by a handsome points margin.
Due to a last minute substitution Scott Denovan’s bout was an exhibition contest with Wellmeadow’s Steve Smith. From the way the bout started, it appeared that nobody had told the boxers and hard shots from both rocked each other. When things settled down it was obvious that Denovan was the better by far and using some neat defensive moves and clever counter punching he gave Smith a lesson in skill and ability.
Neil Quinn took to the ring next for his bout with Granite City’s Emanuell Ahonsi. The Aberdeen boxer was menacing in his approach and Quinn was cautious in the opening exchanged before unleashing wide hooks. Ahonsi blocked and moved inside tying up his opponent and landing short rights.
Quinn is another boxer with his own unique style which can unsettle an opponent but Ahonsi was focused and kept his concentration. He needed to as Quinn tried to take the fight to his opponent firing in hard shots from various angles. Ahonsi’s tight defence parried most of the shots and he stayed cool under fire.
The final round was all action to the bell and once more the judges had to decide the winner. Ahonsi just got the nod over a disappointed Neil Quinn after a sterling effort.
The ever popular John Cooper had his hands full in his contest with Jack Knorz, Kingswells. Adopting a belligerent crouch and an aggressive attitude, Cooper attacked his taller opponent with fast and hard hooks to head and body as he ducked, bobbed and weaved from the inside position landing clear shots to the head and body with both hands.
Knorz took the shots well and fired back with fast straight counters as he tried to keep Cooper at bay, having some success. Cooper shrugged off the punches and moving at speed under the defences landed again and again to the head with hooks from both hands.This was a real crowd pleaser of bout and although he had certainly won the first round Cooper had to work extra hard in the second to stay level as Knorz defended well against the relentless pressure with clear counters to the head.
The last round was grandstand stuff. Cooper gave a supreme effort and Knorz rose to the challenge but the power of the early rounds swung the balance to John Cooper who was awarded a very close points verdict
Last bout of the night featured Darren Foster in a tough struggle against Marek Laskowski, originally from Poland but boxing for Granite City ABC, Aberdeen.
Laskowski is a very experienced south-paw and used all his guile and not a little skill to keep Foster from landing his trademark hurtful hooks. Try as he might Foster could not get close enough to land a decent shot. Laskowski had long arms married to a tight defence, never allowing Foster near.
With dogged determination Foster forced forward at every opportunity and did have some success but Laskowski was doing enough to keep control of the bout and went on to win by clear points margin over a frustrated Darren Foster.
There were two other bouts on the bill. Billy Ramsay, Lochee Boys lost on points after three hard fought rounds to the very stylish Greg Mackie, Granite City.The other bout saw Thomas Brunton, Denbeath, drop a points verdict against Alex Bailey Granite City after four two-minute rounds of quality all action boxing.