Blues Boxers lose out in Varsity Match

CUABC are able to land some early punches, but eventually suffered a knock-out blow.

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Oxford University Amateur Boxing Club last week reclaimed the Truelove Bowl, defeating CUABC 6-3 in a heated Varsity Match encounter in London’s East End.

Photos courtesy of Jamie Gundry

The tone for the evening was set by an extremely competitive undercard. A gutsy performance first up from Cambridge’s Aaron Schleider was not enough to prevent him losing by a unanimous verdict, before a typically combative showing from Heley Mathews saw the Cambridge lady take a well-deserved victory. Defeats followed for Cambridge’s Seb Pender and Kevin Morgan: the former had his bout stopped in the second round, while the latter went down to a unanimous points decision.

The Varsity Match proper began with Downing Featherweight John Lacy facing David Lee. Lacy weathered an early onslaught from his opponent, before fighting back strongly to leave the Oxford man facing a standing eight at the end of the first round. Visibly buoyed, the Downing dynamo came out like a train in the second, subjecting Lee to a barrage of vicious-looking blows.

Physics heart-throb Lacy continued where he had left off in the third, with Lee taking another count before the referee was forced to stop the contest. A crushing win: first blood to Cambridge.

The night’s second bout was something of a battle, Sidneyite Nim Sukumar facing Oxford’s Faraz Sayed at Lightweight. Aggressive boxing from both men in the first two rounds saw the venue heat up as the crowd got increasingly involved in what was a tight contest. Sukumar pulled away in the third, though, his martial arts pedigree shining through as he landed some stinging blows in a fluent display. The Cambridge man took victory on a majority decision, stretching the Light Blue lead to 2-0.

Enter crowd favourite Elliott Chambers, fighting at Light-welterweight against Oxford’s Oliver Harriman. Chambers certainly looked the part in the opening exchanges, but a huge left hand from Harriman knocked him out mid-way through the first round. A boisterous crowd fell silent as Chambers lay sprawled on the canvas for nearly five minutes. Thankfully the Robinson man emerged from the ring unhurt. 2-1 Cambridge.

Next up was Johnian James Phillips at Welterweight, his opponent Josh Fields the Oxford skipper. Phillips battled valiantly throughout but was subjected to constant pressure by his opponent, an experienced boxer who has competed several times at the Scottish Championships. Despite a brief rally in the final round, in which he landed some powerful shots, Phillips can have no complaints about the result: a unanimous decision in favour of the Oxford captain. Phillips, however, has nothing to be ashamed of, having acquitted himself admirably against an excellent opponent. 2-2.

With parity once again restored, mature student Rich ‘Cub’ Simpson entered the ring, fighting against Andy Ormerod-Cloke at Light-Middleweight. After absorbing some heavy pressure in the first, Simpson unleashed a huge right hand to send his man tumbling to the mat as time was sounded.

The Oxford fighter recovered well, though, and probably just had the best of a closely-contested second round. However, it was Ormerod-Cloke who surged ahead in the third, unleashing his trademark straight right-left hook combination on several occasions. Simpson, it must be said, looked spent by the end of the encounter but it is testament to the competitiveness of the bout that the Oxford man took victory on a split decision. 3-2 Oxford.

There could have been no better man to enter the ring next for Cambridge than Chris Webb, the Queens’ vet facing Stefan Hoyensvoll at Middleweight A. Former CUABC captain Webb began the bout like a phantom, ghosting around the ring to leave his opponent chasing shadows.

Hoyensvoll was quick to find his feet, though, and by the end of the second round had proven himself more than a match for Webb, leaving the Cambridge man’s face bloodied and Light Blue hopes dangling by a thread. The third round was amateur boxing at its very best. Both men battled through the pain barrier, summoning every last ounce of strength to go on the offensive. The final decision, a majority verdict in favour of Webb, elicited howls of fury from the Oxford faithful but was fair. All square again at 3-3.

Fighting at Middleweight B was Tab favourite and CUABC captain Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka, against Oxford’s Alec Ward. Wasting no time, Kiwanuka opened proceedings with a series of blistering combinations, forcing Ward immediately onto the back foot.

However, as the contest wore on, Ward came into his own, counter-punching effectively to expose some of Kiwanuka’s defensive frailties. The bout was evenly poised going into the third, neither man giving any ground in a breath-taking display of both fitness and heart. However, for all Kiwanuka’s determination and aggression, Ward’s superior reach simply proved too much, the Oxford man taking victory by a majority decision. 4-3 Oxford.

Churchill pin-up boy Chris Kelly was next to fight, his opponent at Light-Heavyweight Ben Morris a returning Blue. Morris showed immediate signs of his class, reminding the crowd of his crushing victory in last year’s Varsity Match with a brutal onslaught. Kelly was utterly powerless to resist Morris’ attacks; the referee stopped the contest mid-way through the first round. The result saw Oxford take an unassailable 5-3 lead.

With only pride left to fight for, John Walker of Hughes Hall strode into the ring, fighting at Heavweight. Make no bones about it, John Walker is a big man. When he throws a punch, it stays thrown. But his opponent, Andrei Akhveldani proved himself more than a match for the Cambridge fighter, stunning the Hughes Hall grad with a display of perfectly controlled aggression. After a big right from Akhveldani about a minute into the first round sent Walker to the ground, the referee interceded, stopping the contest.

6-3 to Oxford the final score on a thrilling evening of amateur boxing.

CUABC captain Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka had this to say on his side’s defeat:

“That’s boxing. You put yourself out there. There’s no point being prepared to win but scared to lose. I’m proud of all of my boxers though and of CUABC, but full credit to the Oxford team.”

Boxer of the night, Cambridge’s John Lacy, echoed Kiwanuka’s sentiments:

“I had a great night personally, although it’s a shame that we lost as a team to a very strong Oxford outfit. I’m sure that we can bounce back and win next year”.

Watch CUTV’s coverage of the fixture: