On Friday Arbroath Amateur Boxing Club’s annual show in the Community Centre, was once more a great success even though, due to the snow, two bouts of the 12-bout bill had to be cancelled when Highland Boxing Academy were thwarted in their efforts to travel from Inverness because of the closure of the A9.
However the remaining 10 bouts were action packed and had a very supportive and sporting audience cheering every contest.
Aaron Barber started the show in a non-scoring skills contest against Keiron Skey, Lochend. This is a format that allows boxers to experience ring action before a fully competitive bout. This was Barber’s first taste of competition and he acquitted himself well against a more experienced foe. Skey’s work rate unsettled Barber, but he stuck to his task and when he forced forward landed some cracking shots to the head. Under pressure he covered well and took some good body shots in return. A very sporting and fairly competitive skills bout was well received by the crowd.
Cameron Swinton faced Josh Stobbart, 1314, in a Junior middleweight bout. From the start Swinton took control of the bout , forcing Stobbart to the ropes where he unloaded a veritable barrage of hooks to head and body. Stobbart replied with some crisp counters but Swinton was in determined mood and continued to dominate into the second where he used his drive and strength to keep Stobbart on the back foot, landing hooks from both hands. Stobbart was durable and had some success with swinging left hooks from his south-paw stance. Swinton kept up the pressure in the third, but as both boxers tired things got a bit untidy. The final bell was a welcome sound to both competitors. The verdict was a deserved win for Cameron Swinton in his second contest.
Lightwelter Joe Dickson met Elgin’s Jack Reid in another junior contest. From the start Dickson claimed centre of the ring and never relinquished it as he fired in crisp left and right head shots. Reid covered well and fired back with left hooks which were easily blocked by Dickson whose command of the situation never wavered. Round two continued in similar style with Dickson looking even more in charge. Reid was game but Dickson oozed quality and his crisp fast punching kept him well ahead on points. Reid raised his game in the final round and began to give Dickson some problems as he drove himself forward landing with a stiff right cross. Dickson rode out the storm and was soon back on his front foot and in control. The result was an unanimous points win for Boxing Scotland Novice Champion Joe Dickson after a very composed performance.
A novice heavyweight contest was bout four of the bill and featured Luke Kingham against Andrew Bogan,1314. This was Kingham’s first contest and from the bell he charged at his opponent determined to put him under pressure. Although a bit wild and untidy his unsettling tactic had some effect with Bogan defending desperately on the ropes. Kingham found the south-paw style of his opponent a bit awkward and was caught with some good straight left crosses. Things calmed down a little in the second. Kingham beginning to box, landing big two fisted attacks on target and hurting Bogan who suddenly sported a bleeding nose. A swinging right hook-come-cross doing the damage. In the final round Kingham was in control, of both his opponent and his performance. Landing with accuracy and aggression he brought a standing count against a ragged opponent who managed , but only just, to survive to the bell. Luke Kingham was awarded a hard earned but deserved unanimous points win.
Haydn Hill was next up for Arbroath and he faced Liam Mathers,1314 in a junior bantamweight contest. This was an excellent match between to accomplished young boxers. Hill started crisply with some cracking left jabs, only to be met by Mather’ equally crisp jab. This was the pattern of the first round as first one then the other tried to control the bout. Hill began to work to the body in the close quarter exchanges, his volume of punches just stealing the round. Mathers’ switched to south-paw in the second but his tactic came unstuck when Hill landed two thumping right crosses to the head, the classic counter against a south-paw. Still the contest was close but Hill had the higher work rate, switching from head to body and forcing forward at every opportunity. Round three was all about Hill. He was in his element, commanding centre ring and showing his real and growing ability and assurance as he overcame one of his toughest opponents to date. Fast hands, good defences and skilful footwork brought the cheers of the crowd and a very impressive points win from the judges. Haydn Hill is a star of the future. At the end of the bout Haydn was awarded the Patrick Brookes Trophy for the Most Promising Boxer. He was presented with his trophy by the man who donated it, Patrick Brookes, a long time supporter of Arbroath ABC.
Terry Ballantine’s awaited top of the bill light welterweight clash with Elgin’s Andrew Smart did not disappoint. This was being boxed over three, three minute rounds and Smart started as if it was a sprint. Firing fast three and four punch combinations he had Ballantine on the back foot where he kept him for the rest of the round. Variety of punch, speed of delivery allied to some powerful blows were racking up the points for Smart. Ballantine forced forward and landed with some clubbing right crosses and left-hooks that would have stopped other lesser opponents. Smart seemed to soak up the punishment and fired back with hurtful hooks of his own. By round two Ballantine was playing catch-up, but Smart was smart enough not to get dragged into a brawl, his in and out fast attack strategy keeping him in control. Ballantine kept trying and landed with a crunching right cross, Smart replied with a thumping left-hook. Both were rocked by these shots but shook off the effects and sallied forth into the final round still going at full pelt. Ballantine put in a do or die effort , swinging in hooks from both hands. Smart was fast enough to avoid most and countered with effective left and right crosses. The evidence of battle was evident on both boxers, many a young lady will envy the colour of their ‘eye-shadow’ , the final bell bringing welcome relief for both boxers. Andrew Smart won an unanimous points verdict over Terry Ballantine. This was one of Terry’s toughest bouts against a clever boxer who had raised his game very effectively against a dangerous opponent.
Deon Johnston was in action in another light welterweight contest against Tyler Gibson ,Lochend. This youth bout got off to a cracking start, fast jabs and right crosses from Johnston catching Gibson who responded by slipping inside and under the attack landing to the body with both hands. This was a quality contest from two of Scotland’s best at this weight. The bout fairly flowed, both working for dominance with neither really dominating. Johnston started the second landing good straight punches to the head from both hands, catching his eager opponent as he came forward. Gibson was clever enough to change tactics, drawing Johnston on and countering with effective hooks, followed by a stiff right cross. The pace never varied even in the last round of a very well matched contest. Both still vying for supremacy never quite fully achieving that task. Quality shots were exchanged to the bell and the judges were split on the result, of a very close top quality bout. Tyler Gibson just getting the nod, winning by the tightest of margins over a disappointed Deon Johnston.
Heavyweight Liam Buchan faced David Morris, Lochend in bruising battle of two strong boxers. Buchan was fist into the fray, driving Morris across the ring, throwing a multitude of punches, some landing on target, some missing and others being blocked by a desperately defending Morris. Finding a little space in the onslaught, Morris forced Buchan to give ground, no mean feat in itself, and fired in big swinging hooks. Buchan covered up absorbing the blows before coming back with crunching punches of his own. Round two followed a similar pattern. it may not have been bonny but it was exciting. Both these big strong lads had the power and were determined to use it to hurt their opponent. Hooks from every angle possible , and some that were not, came flying in. Morris began to dominate as the bout entered the third round, Buchan’s earlier efforts draining his reserves. Undaunted he dug deep and right to the bell he gamely tried to find the one punch finish. It was not to be and David Morris on points over a very game Liam Buchan.
Gareth Brown is a “Farfar Loon” who pulled on an Arbroath vest for his first ever bout against fellow first timer Blair MacDonald, Lochee. Both these tall boxers were geared for action. From the first bell the leather flew at an alarming rate. Punches were winging threw the air at a great rate of knots. Some missing, some landing , some doing damage, some not. Brown looked stronger and seemed less fazed by the action driving his opponent into the red corner where he landed four thumping head shots that brought a standing count for MacDonald from the referee. When the bout continued Brown was on his man in a flash. Another combination of hard lefts and rights had MacDonald in all sorts of bother bringing the referee’s intervention again to end the contest. The winner by TKO inside the first minute, was a delighted Gareth Brown.
Ben Gibson was last up for Arbroath and in his light heavyweight contest he was matched against Dean Byrne,Lochend. This was another closely matched bout. Both boxers new what they were about and used all their efforts to good effect, Gibson landed with solid shots from both hands. Byrne was a classic counter punching boxer, who took one to land two, effectively using Gibson’s attacks against him. Gibson altered his style accordingly feinting with the right, landing with the left. Byrne had fast hands and a good chin, and took the shots which he countered well with a crisp right cross. The second round continued where the first left off. Gibson landed a crunching right cross, Byrne responded with one of his own, and then another ,catching Gibson unawares. The final round was boxed at the same pace as the first two. Byrne, coming forward, landed five punches without reply as Gibson was forced onto his back foot. Gibson responded by driving forward working the body. Byrne used his fast left jab as his defence, setting himself to fire in a right cross. Gibson, aware of the danger slipped to his outside and landed a fast left-hook to the head. The final bell of the final contest rang and the result was eagerly awaited, Dean Byrne won a close contest over a rejuvenated Ben Gibson who is making a welcome return after a recent illness.
With a scoreline of five wins against four losses Arbroath ABC can be proud of its team of up and coming young boxers who gave of their best in a great night of amateur sport.