Hammers’ boxing duo taste success but rest find it grim up north

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 December 2011

Luke Saunders

Luke Saunders


The South of England champions who travelled to Leeds last week for the National Boys’ Club finals were far from impressed with the northern hospitality, but two West Ham boxers – Luke Saunders and Tom Beaney – overcame the obstacles to claim NACYP titles.

Complaints from the visitors included weigh-in problems, unsuitable dressing rooms and biased officiating, giving the northerners an 11-2 winning margin – with the West Ham duo the only two southern boxers to bring back titles.

In the 63kg decider, Beaney’s sharp-shooting attacks looked to have built up a comfortable lead against game opponent John Kelly (Houghton), yet the judges had the West Ham boxer just a single point ahead going into the final round.

He stepped up the pace to dominate that final round, picking up the points with effective long-range scoring punches and at the final bell he was awarded a 16-13 points victory and the National title.

Classy Beaney, who has spent half his 17 years as a member of the Plaistow-based club, brought home his sixth National title – but clubmate Saunders made it a magnificent seven with his success in Leeds.

In the 66kg division, Saunders continued his successful run with a points verdict over talented Merseyside youngster Mike Joynson (Kirkby) in a repeat of last year’s final.

The slick Hammers southpaw built an early lead when the powerful Johnson landed a left hook to the body followed by an overhand right, forcing Saunders to take a standing count.

However, Saunders regained control of the contest, ramming home solid counter-punches to complete a 19-14 points verdict over the game rival to complete a good week – with an invitation to attend a GB assessment weekend in January.

The northern judges scored wide margins in favour of the two boys who defeated Hammers’ remaining Class B finalists, Samuel Cox and Jez Smith.

Classy Leeds boxer Jack Bateson added another title to his list, outpointing Hammers’ recruit Samuel Cox in the 48kg final by a 14-4 margin.

In the 60kg decider, Andre Angers from Manchester’s Egans BC was another northern winner by a 16-5 margin against Smith.

On Thursday at Harlow, Hammers’ Charlie Driscoll went down 15-27 to Leigh rival Jack Catterall in the 60kg Class C final.

There was also a title disappointment for Hammers’ Boston Reid in the quarter-finals of the ABA National novices tournament when he lost a points decision against Wessex rival Stuart Thomas.

■ The ABA national novices semi-finals are booked to take place at the Elmbridge Centre, Forest Road Hainault on Sunday (1pm start) with boxers from London and the South of England battling for a place in the national finals where they meet the northern area champions the following weekend.

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