SUNDERLAND and Houghton boxing is braced for a big night this Friday, writes Roy Kelly.
Four fighters will be aiming for progress in the ABA Championships at Rainton Meadows Arena.
Josh Kelly, Kevin Nelson, Michael Laws and Warren Cassop will carry the hopes of this area in the famous tournament.
Kelly will be boxing in Houghton for the third time inside 11 days.
The teenager takes on Middlesbrough’s Tab Simamane in the U63.5 kilo Tyne, Tees and Wear final.
Kelly followed his superb win for England in the international against Sweden with a comfortable points victory over Sean Moore.
In truth, the Houghton ABC star never really got out of the low gears in this semi-final.
Moving nicely and landing accurately with his jab, Kelly made Moore miss repeatedly in the opening round.
The middle session was quieter and while Moore got through with a few scoring shots on the last he also got penalised by referee Elaine Ibinson for holding as the contest became a little scrappy.
The judges scorecards all reflected Kelly’s superiority, 18-10, 18-9, 18-6, 18-13, 21-8.
There had been a chance of a Wearside derby in the final, only for Sunderland fighter Luke Radcliffe to lose heavily to Simamane.
Radcliffe looked unrecognisable from the boxer who had given Hartlepool’s Daniel Cope a tough bout in his previous outing.
The 25-year-old came forward in the first with a little success, missed with the majority of his shots in round two and was outboxed in the last.
Simamane took it on a unanimous 26-8, 15-8, 23-8, 19-8, 15-6.
Nelson provided a success for Plains Farm when he booked a U57 kilo TTW final with Hartlepool’s Mick Hadfield.
The 20-year-old began like a house on fire against novice Darlington boxer Adam Hutchinson.
Out aggressively, Nelson let some heavy shots go to the body and clubbing rights to the head of Hutchinson.
The Albert Hill boxer looked in danger of being stopped but he warmed into the bout just as Nelson began to tire dramatically.
Granted, he had the win in the bag but had he been in with a better opponent he could have been in trouble in the last.
All that mattered ultimately is that Nelson won – all five judges agreeing, 35-8, 16-11, 30-27, 37-20, 35-11.
He will be joined by Laws in Friday’s final night, when he meets England boxer Peter Martin (Wellington ABC) in the U75 kilo category.
Lambton Street also have interest at Rainton Meadows where Warren Cassop will tackle last season’s U86 kilo finalist Declan Fusco in the U91 division.
There will be no Wearside presence in the U71 kilo TTW final after Daniel Wood lost his semi against Boro’s Jonathan Doherty.
Fighter met boxer in this one as Wood, shorter and more powerfully built, took on the taller Pallister Park opponent.
The Sunderland East End man was all aggression with Doherty preferring to box, counter-punching well.
Even though it was a unanimous decision, it was a close-run thing on the scorecards, Wood losing 7-11, 7-11, 2-11, 5-10, 4-7.