Baker blast for referee after decisions cost him ABA title

Tom Baker will always believe he should have crowned his boxing career with an ABA title triumph at Colchester on Friday night, but the official verdict saw him lose a 32-30 points decision against Liverpudlian Jamie Metcalfe.

“The referee cost me the title,” fumed the West Ham Boxing Club light-middleweight, clearly angered by the interference of northern official Paul Allen.

“He gave me two standing counts – and the second was ridiculous, while the two public warnings he issued were a joke,” fumed Baker.

“Metcalfe was a good fighter, but the referee was on his side,” said Baker – and there were many at the ringside who agreed with him.

For Baker, who suffered his second national final defeat in successive years, it was little consolation that he had featured in a thrilling battle that had the crowd on their feet for most of the way.

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The pace rarely slackened as he speared long-range punches through the defences of his opponent from Liverpool’s famous Salisbury BC, but was shaken when Metcalfe’s powerful hooks found the target.

The Hammer’s third-round rally, after the standing counts tolled by the referee in the second, clearly rocked the Merseysider and convinced Baker and his fans that he deserved the verdict.

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But the official decision, and the ABA light-middleweight award, went to the fighting son of Liverpool’s former pro star Shea Neary.

The disappointed loser stayed on at ringside to cheer another local hope, John Dignum, to success in his middleweight final that followed.

For Dignum, who had spent most of his career at the local Newham BC before switching to Brentwood, was a winner in his first senior title bid against another Liverpool finalist, James Seddon from Transport BC.

The tall 19-year-old southpaw’s long-range boxing built up an early lead against his rival – 11 years his senior –in another entertaining final.

The Liverpudlian, boosted by a standing count in the second round, made a late effort, but although he narrowed the gap, Dignum, who upset Repton’s strongly-fancied Frank Buglioni in his semi-final, added another seasoned campaigner to his victim list.

The official verdict gave Dignum a points verdict by a 31-26 score, but he admitted he was not happy with his final display.

“I could have boxed better, but I made hard work of it,” admitted the new ABA middleweight champ.

Loser Seddon did not dispute the decision, saying: “Dignum is a good kid, he deserved it.”

It was a good night for Newham’s old boys, light-flyweight Charlie Edwards who boxed as a junior at the local club, was a good winner against Yorkshire rival Mohammed Wagas.

? Local hopes face their last hurdle on the long ABA junor title trail at Medway Valley Leisure Park, Rochester, Kent, on Saturday when they face Northern Area rivals.

West Ham send a five-stong squad of finals hopes, with Thomas Beaney, Luke Saunders, Lucien Reid, Charlie Driscoll and Myles Cousins lining up for action.

Neighbouring Newham BC send George Moughton into action on the first of the two-day national junior finals.

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