Kings Heath ABC duo Ben Vaughan and Eithan James won the 2017 Youth Championships, adding to their ever-increasing collection of national titles.
Over three gruelling days, during which the best youth boxers met each other to achieve No.1 status in very tough and highly competitive weight categories, Vaughan and James excelled.
At 64 kg, southpaw Vaughan had to overcome Kai Green in the quarter-finals, but his continual pressure forced a stoppage in the last round after a heavily marked up opponent had already received two standing counts in round two.
Vaughan’s semi-final opponent Lewis Deninth set out to use holding tactics throughout, which resulted in an ugly bout with several warnings being given to both boxers.
But ultimately the referee disqualified the Southern Counties boxer for continually breaking the rules.
Vaughan now had the envious task and the ultimate acid test of boxing double European champion, four-time national champion and hard-hitting fellow southpaw John Johnstone (Ring) who had not lost in this country for five years.
It was a bout that was widely and hotly anticipated by a packed audience, which included heavyweight champion of the world Tyson Fury.
Both boxers rose to the occasion, and produced a memorable and magnificent final.
Vaughan possibly lost the first round by the narrowest of margins but raised the tempo to the highest level over the next six minutes.
Vaughan would not be denied as he finished strongly in the last round to claim a very deserved victory on a split decision.
Stylish James had a very tough draw as he faced national or European champions on each day.
Adam Hussain (Ring), a former European gold medallist, proved to be slippery and elusive in the quarter-final, but the Kings Heath boxer always had the edge as he kept him at long range to claim a very notable win.
Another quality performance in the semi-finals saw James beat Manchester’s Bobby Faulkner.
Liverpool’s NABC champion, rugged and dangerous southpaw Jake Harrrison (Gemini), threw everything at James, who kept his shape over the nine minutes and had the last word in a very worthy final at 52kg.
Nico Leavers was desperately unlucky to go out in the quarter-finals against Charles Frankham on a split decision in a result that was not very well received by many at ringside.
“This whole tournament has been a rollercoaster and this weekend was one of the most rewarding for the club that I can recall,” said Kings Heath head coach Arthur Daly.
“We had worked and planned for this as a team for the past two months.
“We asked for everything from our boxers and they responded in return with showings of skill, class and determination.
“The club would like to dedicate these wins to George Spence, who overcame many battles recently in Las Vegas.
“George has been associated with this club from the outset and his wellbeing was always in the back of our minds throughout it.
“It’s great that he has returned home and his name alone proved to be very inspirational in the daily team talks and between rounds.”
Vaughan, James and Leavers now go into training for both the Tri-Nations and Commonwealth Games.
Far Cotton ABC fighter Chantelle Cameron is ready for a fresh chapter in her boxing career as she bids to turn professional.
The 25-year-old has been part of the Great Britain squad for the past eight years and narrowly missed out on making the Rio Olympics at lightweight last summer.
She is now back in action after a recent injury and looking to take the next step on her adventure.
“After the Olympic qualifiers and after a long think, me and (Far Cotton head coach) John (Daly) have had discussions and want to look at options for me to turn pro,” Cameron said.
“I have been on the team GB squad for eight years now and I’m ready for a new challenge .
“I’ve always been inspired by turning pro to finish my boxing career as from the age of 10 my dream never began as an Olympic boxer - it was actually to be a professional boxer.
“It was only when I got selected to box for GB that the Olympic dream began for me but I always new pro boxing would suit my style more and John agrees.”
NORTHAMPTON ABC fighter Sean Kempston-Swallow of Northampton ABC earned a split decision win against Berinsfield ABC boxer Jason Goddard in a 34kg contest.
That success was followed by Nathan Elston winning his senior bout via a unanimous decision against Lloyd Smith, also of Berinsfield ABC, at 78kg.
Both boxers were supported by Northampton coach Damien O’Reilly.
This Saturday, Northampton’s Yousuf Ibrahim will be in action in the junior championships.