This Sunday saw one of the greatest rivalries in boxing take place once again.
In the away corner, stood the foe of all local boxing promoters: withdrawals. Injuries, retirements and all manner of reasons can leave organisers pulling their hair out.
Fighting out of the home corner, on behalf of Steve Wraith Promotions, were determination, exuberance and a stubbornness that the show must go on.
In the early going, there were some heavy blows scored by nightmare scenarios. Chrissy Wood, coming off the back of a hard fought draw with Jamie Humble, announced he was taking time out from the sport. Given the quality of his performance in challenging for the vacant Northern Area title, this was a huge shock that left the organisers, and his opponent Paul Gidney, reeling.
A total of three boxers from Jobes Gym withdrew due to a combination of injuries and personal circumstances. This was varied attack on the show that left it bloodied and beaten.
The clash of the O’Neill’s (Richard and Greg) was also scrapped. This meant that two all North East bouts were off the card, weeks before it was set to take place.
A heavy knockdown giving a 10-8 round in favour of the disruptions.
Former Northern Area challenger, Tom Whitfield was another unfortunate withdrawal. A once healthy looking card was on the verge of being stopped. The white towel was being readied. A matter of time before it would be waved…
However, the greatest stories in boxing are not about smooth sailing. There has to be adversity before there can be redemption. The show needed a response after getting off to such a troubled start.
For those involved, the opportunity to box on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Dunston was too big to miss. Along with the organisers, the boxers were determined to make a show of it and refused to lie down.
The aforementioned Gidney, aka The Dog, was desperate to enter the ring following a period of time that has seen him besieged by personal problems and inactivity. He shook off the rust at long last and boxed his way to a competitive points victory over the very game Scott McCormack. For those who know him, it was superb to see him in the ring again. He moved to 3-0 as a pro and hopefully this is the start of a busy boxing run for the Gateshead man.
Gidney’s stablemate, Sam ‘The Pocket Rocket’ Menzies stepped through the ropes for the first time as a professional. Under the tutelage of Mal Gates, the Super-Bantamweight opened the show using speed and subtle head movement en route to a comfortable debut win.
A lot has been made this weekend about former kickboxers making their way into boxing. Nicky Holzten gained several admirers with a brave performance against Callum Smith last night. Another to follow in those footsteps (adapting his stance along the way) is Darlington’s Ellis Corrie (2-0).
The 20 year old former Muay Thai specialist kept his 100% winning record in tact with a dominant victory over durable journeyman, Mike Castell. Corrie has looked impressive in his opening two pro bouts and at such a tender age, is certainly one to watch over the coming months and years.
As with any local boxing show, the fans appreciate the hard work and grit on show, as well as the talent, and they lapped it up. Sending fans home happy is often lost in the world of boxing and it was lovely to see it in effect at the Lancastrian Suite. A brave effort in spite of the trials and tribulations that threatened to cause the upset.
To borrow an infuriating scoring cliché: how you score it overall depends on what you like.
There will be those that prefer the glitz and glamour of top level boxing. They can only appreciate the highest skill sets, experience and the biggest personalities. They won’t see any value in a three fight card of prospects against opponents. They will only see the injuries and pullouts that controlled proceedings for large parts of the early stages.
To this writer however, the bravery determination and refusal to quit is worth something. The people behind the show refused to be beaten and worked tirelessly to force their way back into it. Sometimes it isn’t pretty, it isn’t flashy. Sometimes it’s about the end result. Those are generally gained through hard work and that was the case today.
Well done to all involved!