Dispatch from Consett amateur show

Andrew Harrison
28/02/2016 9:44am

On the eve of the Carl Frampton vs Scott Quigg megamatch in Manchester, Boxing Monthly took a break from the pre-fight brouhaha in favour of some grassroots action at an amateur dinner show in Consett - the one-time epicentre of Britain’s steel industry situated on the outskirts of County Durham. 

Local heroes – world cup winner and national institution Jack Charlton OBE and former bantamweight world titlist Stuart Hall - were on hand to present trophies, draw raffles and generally help the night go with a swing. Big Jack proved as popular as ever – as did the replica world cup he was presented with that ended up becoming something of a celebrity in its own right.

At 80 now and no longer the towering physical presence of his youth, he seemed happy under the watchful eye of his eldest son John. Sipping beer, he was keen to talk about fishing and flashed some of his old dry wit when catching Hall off-guard with: “Where are you from son, Darlington? Well, you’d have to fight to get out of there…”

Former IBF bantamweight titlist Hall was seven weeks out from a world title final eliminator against Mexican lefty Rodrigo Guerrero and so looked a little uneasy as a round of chocolate tortes began to circulate. Chocolate would knock his conditioning back a week he said glumly, as his dessert was offered around the table (no-one dared touch it).

Conversation quickly moved onto making weight (unlike some fighters, Hall hasn’t found it any more difficult as he’s aged) along with Quigg’s depleted state at Friday’s weigh-in. Hall was picking Frampton to win. He wondered whether Quigg would be privy to breakfast on Saturday morning due to the IBF’s check-weight rule that prohibits the fighters from gaining more than 10 lb. before the morning of the fight – yet still expected the Bury puncher to be huge come the first bell. Boxing Monthly will catch up with Hall – who is currently sparring the likes of Frankie Gavin and the Yafai brothers in Birmingham - closer to the Guerrero contest, to discuss a potential third world title crack and Bristol rival Lee Haskins, who he seems keen to reconvene with.   

A memorabilia auction offered an insight into another folk hero’s seemingly unending popularity: a signed Ricky Hatton glove went for £210, while a signed photo montage of David Haye could only muster £90 (losing out narrowly to Barry McGuigan). There’s still only one Ricky Hatton it would seem.   

The card opened with a series of skills contests – 3 x 1 minute rounds designed to allow novices to dip their toes into competitive waters. ABAE rules assert that “aggression and heavy punches are to be discouraged” yet, buoyed by a large crowd within the confines of the Derwent Manor Hotel, the kids – some only the size of Brussel sprouts - found it difficult to maintain the notion that these exhibition bouts were development opportunities rather than actual fights. Luca Croce (Dunston) and Lachlan Marron (Aycliffe) in particular threw that ethos completely out of the window – tearing into each other relentlessly until they were both left bloody-nosed and exhausted.   

There were mixed fortunes for Consett YMCA: Junior Connor Jopling lost a competitive split decision to Billy Wilson (Empire School of Boxing) after touching down in the bout’s opening seconds while Callum Murphy lost unanimously in a nip-and-tuck affair against Jason Finlinson (Northumberland Fire & Rescue). And so it was left to senior David Twiname to salvage local pride in the evening’s final contest at 75kg. Twiname – tall, wide-shouldered and rangy - overcame a rampaging start from the tattooed and thick-set John Dixon (Brandon) to pound out a split verdict in an absolute humdinger of a fight.

A world away from Frampton and Quigg, the kids hoping to emulate them are no less inspirational in their own right – not really. From little red-haired Ben Sharkey (North Road Gym) persevering against Alexander Stevens (Ward Degnans) despite being repeatedly caught flush, to the diminutive Leroy Narin (Houghton) bouncing cheerily down the ring steps in his shimmering gold boots, still walking 100ft tall despite losing out to Andrew Kennedy (Empire) – they embodied all that is good about boxing.

And there were no arguments over dressing rooms.

Other results: Kia Batista (Dunston) W SD Jude Ainsley (High Fell); Sophie Rodgers (Dunston) W UD Alicia Parks (Houghton).