Northampton has a new boxing hero after Far Cotton welterweight Carl Fail was crowned England Boxing Elite champion in Liverpool.
Coach John Daly was beaming after seeing the 19 year-old southpaw from East Hunsbury become the town’s first winner of the most prestigious prize in domestic amateur boxing Francis Doherty in 2000.
Fail won the title at the first attempt with a unanimous points win over Ekow Essuman in the final, his third win in as many days at the Echo Arena and the best of his 46-bout amateur career.
Essuman (Bilborough Community College) is a seasoned international who’s been competing at the highest level in the World Series of Boxing.
The 27-year-old was the No 1 seed for the championship and has hopes of qualifying for this summer’s Olympics in Rio.
There’s now an outside chance Fail could be picked to go to Azerbaijan for the final qualifying event in June, providing neither Cyrus Pattinson or Essuman reach Rio via the AIBA World Series of Boxing qualifier this month.
Fail, cheered on by twin Ben, younger brother Aaron and mum Barbara in Liverpool, said: “I’ve proved I’m good enough to go to a qualifier.
“If I was picked, I would grab my chance with both hands. I would qualify for the Olympics.”
Fail is sure to be picked to represent England at the Tri Nations championships in Scotland later this month and looks to be the country’s form fighter at 69kgs.
The former Abbeyfield School pupil says he owes his success to self belief and a huge fighting heart.
“I believe I’m the best,” said Fail, who thanked sponsors Crystal Electronics Ltd. “I really believe I can beat anyone and that’s a big part of it.
“I went into every fight believing the only way I was going to lose was if I didn’t perform to the best of my ability.”
Fail had to be at his best to beat Essuman in Sunday evening’s final after wins over Billy Le Poullain (Amalgamated) and Charlie Stevens (March) in the previous rounds, the latter by knock out in the opening session.
“I definitely won the fight,” said Fail. “But it was tough.
“Essuman has been fighting at world level and he really pushed me, but I dug deep. John really pushed me on.
“The Great Britain coaches said to me afterwards: ‘What heart. You can’t teach that.’”
Daly, who’s been coaching Fail since he was 13 years old at the Far Cotton gym on Towcester Road, said: “Carl picked it up as he’s gone through the championship.
“The better the opponent, the better he’s boxed.
“He wasn’t just happy to get to the final, he was determined to win it. He wasn’t there for the experience.
“Carl had never fought a tough, strong fighter like Essuman before, but he told me: ‘Don’t worry John, I will do him’ and he went out there and did the business.”
Far Cotton had another finalist at the Echo Arena, but Laura Stevens missed out on winning the women’s title at 69kgs after a points loss to Stephanie Wroe (Army).
The 26 year old outpointed Gem Campbell (Luton Academy) in the last four, but her hopes of winning the final were dented by a cut picked up in the opening round that later needed eight stitches.
Stevens went on to lose unanimously on the cards and Daly said: “We were all so proud of Laura.
“She put everything into he final and you can’t ask for any more than that.”
Eithan James is England’s golden boy
EITHAN JAMES continued to enhance his burgeoining reputation with a superb double in Cardiff last weekend.
The Kings Heath ABC ace was in action for England in the Great Britain Junior Tri-Nations.
And there was to be plenty of joy for James as he beat two talented Wales boxers to get his hands on a gold medal.
First up for the impressive youngster was a clash with Grant Croft, who is ranked second in Wales.
And it was to be a comfortable and decisive performance as James settled down behind his jab after an edgy first round and upped the tempo in the following two to earn the win.
It was a fine unanimous decision success for the Kings Heath lad and he progressed to the final, where he would meet world No.3 and former European champion James Probert.
The Welsh boxer had convincingly dealt with his Scottish opponent in his semi-final and the highly experienced southpaw proved to be James’s most difficult opponent to date.
But the confident Kings Heath lad set his stall out from the opening bell and found his range early on with a dominant show of precise backhands off a piercing jab.
Probert was pushed onto the back foot as James grew in confidence, switching his attacks throughout an action-packed three rounds of a skilful contest.
It was credit to both boxers and James was to emerge with a split decision victory as he claimed the gold.
“We got the distinct feeling that Eithan wasn’t expected to win this one, particularly in Wales against their star lad,” Kings Heath head coach Arthur Daly said.
“But he was in mint condition and his steely determination shone through.
“He didn’t waste any shots, and at this level that was the difference.
“His balance, precision and variety of shots were very eye-catching to the judges and he can be proud of not only winning, but additionally the manner of his overall performances.
“His display were very solid and this was down to his immense character and the winning mentality that he has continually shown.
“It was particularly relevant against a top class opponent in a very difficult final.
James was already a four-time national champion going into the Tri-Nations.
And Daly said: “Eithan has now completed a unique treble this season, winning every domestic competition that he has entered.
“He now has a fair and realistic chance of going to the European Championships in Hungary next month in a squad that has yet to be chosen.”