BURNLEY’S Sandygate ABC held their first show of the season a black-tie affair at the Fence Gate Inn, which proved to be a cracking night.
First up for the Pugilistic punters to peruse was a bout of skill between Berkley’s Dylan “Deadly” Lord (10) and A. Robertson (St John’s ABC), with both boys demonstrating good skills and ring craft in the non-verdict bout.
The first competitive bout of the evening saw another young Berkley Estate boxer, Connor “Big Con” Shaw (11) facing S. Melia (Anfield ABC), and the much fancied Shaw showed his dominance straight from the bell, with all ringside witnessing why he is so rated by the Sandygate coaches.
After a blistering jab, double back hand retreated the Liverpudlian into his own corner, “Big Con” unleashed a barrage of shots, all hitting the mark, forcing the referee to stop the onslaught and give a standing eight-count to the bemused Melia.
Within seconds of the return to action, Shaw pushed on harder, and to no surprise the man-in-the-middle stopped the bout in one minute 10 seconds of the first round in favour of Shaw.
Regan “Jock” Driver (13) graced the apron next, facing C. Rawlings (Hope Street ABC), throwing lethal jab, rear hand combinations which seemed to home in on the relisiant Manchester fighter.
Driver piled home the deliveries, countering well and keeping centre throughout.
The second round sawa more hectic pace, as Rawlings, sensing he was behind, upped his game, with Regan meeting it head on, out manoeuvring and muscling, reverting to rigid lead hands and not taking a single step back .
The third, like the second, was a close affair, with both boys giving it their all, but a strong flurry from Driver propelled Rawlings’ head back, scoring with a sharp three-punch straight combo, and all judges ringside gave the nod in favour to Driver.
Colne’s Reece Jackson (12) narrowly lost on a majority to K. McIntyre (St John’s ABC).
Next up, Harle Syke “Hit-Man” Will Henson-Smith (14) entered the squared circle, boxing J. Lee (Hope Street ABC).
With the bell still ringing, Will made his mark, striking first with a long lead, moving well from head to body and switching phases of attack, which seemed to bemuse Lee, who resorted to holding and pulling.
The Blessed Trinity Year 10 pupil had his best round in the second, dominating once again and using his feet to great effect.
The third and final saw a more measured performance from the ever improving Henson-Smith, defending well and countering under pressure, and it was no surprise when the unanimous verdict was announced in favour of the Burnley pugilist.
Shuttleworth’s Brett Windle (14) was at the wrong end of a majority verdict against S. Conners (Leigh ABC).
In-form Brandon “Padiham Power Station” Hartley (15), boxing for the third time in three weeks, was looking to make it a hat-trick of wins in a return match against Morecombe’s J. Catlow (Skerton ABC) and did not disappoint.
Fast hands, fast feet and even faster reflexes saw this hot-shot flourish once more, dominating in a very controlled manner in every round.
Catlow knew he was in for another hard time as Hartley controlled, earning him his third unanimous decision already this season.
Nelson’s Charlie Martin (15) lost out against J. McGovern (St John’ ABC) for the vacant NW ABA Junior Belt in a very close affair.
First up for the Seniors was middleweight Lloyd “Boom-Boom” Baldwin (23) in a intriguing bout against G. Jones (Salford ABC).
The first round saw a very strong Jones try and dominate with his reach advantage and aggressive style, but Baldwin stood strong and countered with diligence, rolling under the long arm of the much-fancied Jones and replying with a strong lead hook, double rear hand.
The second saw Lloyd increase his work rate, switching from head to body with heavy right hook, right hand combos, forever coming forward, and his work rate started to wear down the Salford starlet.
The third and final round was not for the faint-hearted as both young men gave it their last drop of energy, with the Sandygate boxer coming off the victor in most of the exchanges.
The crowd hushed as they awaited the verdict, but soon Baldwin’s large following erupted when the hand was raised of their winner with a unanimous call.
Lightweight Sam Larkin (22), making his return to the ring after seven years, narrowly lost out to Bury’s wily Southpaw L. Clayton (Dynamic ABC).
The Howard Rigg-sponsored show’s main event saw home club’s Joe “Silent” Knight (19) square up to the very strong, durable and aptly named “Dangerous” Dan Johnson (Skerton ABC).
Knight’s grace around the ring and superior ring craft was evident instantly as he made Johnson miss on every occasion, replying with a solid jab which hit the mark every time.
The second and third showed just why light-welterweight Knight is in top form, moving in and out of range, boxing inside and on the back foot, hitting at will.
After a one such strong attack the referee had no option but to administer an eight-count to the very game Johnson at the end of the third.
Capping off a wonderful night of boxing at East Lancashire’s oldest boxing club, Knight’s hand was raised with a unanimous from all ringside judges.
Coach Andy Howcroft said: “Our first show of the season was a excellent affair with all ABA representatives commenting on the quality of all the bouts afterwards, junior boxer of the night had to go to Branny Hartley - three wins in three weeks - and he boxes again on Sunday in the National CYP Championships.
“Knight picked up the senior boxer of the night award he also sees action again this week in the CYPs.
“The club would like to thank all involved for helping make the show a great success, and now look forward to many more this season as well as the annual trip to Scandinavia for the International Box Cups.”
Anyone interested in trying the noble art can contact the club via their website www.sandygateabc.com