Mixed fortunes for Bridlington boxers

Aaron Boyes and Zac Stabler
Aaron Boyes and Zac Stabler

There were mixed results for Bridlington ABC boxers in last weekend’s national semi finals of the England Boxing Championships.

Aaron Boyes and Zac Stabler had both won their quarter finals in the North East a week earlier, overcoming tough opponents to earn themselves a spot in the semi finals in Liverpool.

Stabler, who was looking for a place in the final for the third year running, was up against Ben Whittaker of the Wodensborough ABC in Birmingham, who arrived with just two defeats in 24.

Whittaker stood at around 6ft 4ins tall, giving him over seven inches in height on Stabler, but this is a situation that the Bridlington boxer is only too familiar with and it did not affect Stabler who went on the attack from the first bell.

Whittaker proved difficult to pin down and his movement kept him clear of Stabler’s reach for most of the first round, however he had landed very few shots himself.

The second round was at a higher pace with Stabler having more success getting in close and trapping his man in the corners. When moving, Whittaker really used his reach to his advantage and was busy working off his jab and caught Stabler with some big shots at times.

In the third round Stabler felt it was all on the line and gave everything by piling the pressure on. Whittaker was still trying to keep out of the way but was having a lot less success than he did in the earlier rounds.

Around 30 seconds from the end of the round, Stabler landed a very strong jab that weakened the legs of Whittaker who fell into the ropes. Whittaker then tried to avoid any encounters for the final 30 seconds and saw the round out safely.

The Birmingham-based boxer took a unanimous verdict but Stabler had done very well to get where he has, with a top three finish in the national rankings for three years running, one national title and a bronze and silver medal while competing for England.

Boyes overcame his quarter final against Anthony Stout of the Shildon ABC in the North East with a very classy display to line him up against Connor Benson of the Small Heath ABC in Birmingham in the semi-finals.

This was the first time Boyes had got this far in the competition after twice falling at the quarter-final stage.

Boyes began on the front foot but was very cautious of Benson in the first round who is known as a tricky southpaw who likes to counter.

Boyes controlled the pace and direction of the first round but it was a low scoring round in terms of scoring blows as both boxers tried to figure each other out.

Knowing he had maybe lost the first round Benson came out for the second with a bit more determination trying to box on the front foot but Boyes worked well off the back foot defending the shots well and changing the angle before upping the work rate even further in the counter punches.

After half a round Benson was again on the back foot trying to counter, with Boyes patiently putting pressure on and showing again that he was in control, to take the second round as well.

The third round saw both boxers show how much they wanted to get to the final.

Benson, who was likely to be two rounds down, needed something big in the last round and came looking for it but Boyes kept working to keep him at bay.

The two were moving far less than they were in the opening rounds, standing toe-to-toe more.

It was Boyes who was still coming out on top of the exchanges as both boxers gave it their all as the bout drew to a close.

After three rounds of boxing the judges were unanimous in their decision of awarding the bout to Boyes, who will now progress to the finals, to be held in Bolton this Sunday.

He has a very tough opponent in Patrick McDonagh of the Walcot ABC.

McDonagh will come to the ring already having three national titles to his name from previous years, as well as numerous contests for England as a schoolboy with just four defeats in 35 contests.

Bridlington head coach Damien Grant said: “This is the level of opposition you expect to meet in the finals.

“The competition is down to the top two in the country now and to become the number one you have to beat the best and that’s what Boyes will have to do here.”

Boyes added: “I’m glad I have made it to the final after so many attempts.

“All the hard work I have put in has finally paid off, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to show my skills and ability at the very top level of English boxing.

“The final will be my toughest contest yet, boxing someone who has already won national titles, so I will have to put the performance of a lifetime in.”