Boxers pack a punch at Alnwick show

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IT wasn’t quite Madison Square Garden, Wembley Stadium or the MEN Arena. And there was no Ricky Burns, Amir Khan or David Haye on the bill.

This was the Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre at Alnwick and a boxing show being staged by Northumberland Amateur Boxing Club.

It was at places like this that the aforementioned superstars of the sport cut their teeth and it was here last Thursday night that Hawick Amateur Boxing Association’s Jamie Amos and Gareth Walker took to the ring to continue their promising careers.

In what was the club’s first foray south of the border for some time, the hour-and-a-half drive to Alnwick was far from ideal preparation for the two boxers, who were joined by coaches Billy Finn, Den Bell, Eddie Brogan and supporter Gavin Riddell.

A third fighter to make the trip, young powerhouse Hughie-Jo Hutchison, was left disappointed before a bell had even been sounded when he was informed his opponent had cried off earlier in the day.

And even the weigh-in wasn’t without its drama as Walker walked a tightrope over his goatee beard. With strict rules on competitors to be clean shaven and the big super heavyweight down to just stubble, it took a last gasp intervention from the authorities to give his fight the go-ahead.

With Amos and Walker fighting ninth and eleventh on the bill respectively, there was plenty of time to waste.

Former light welterweight Finn said: “It is a bit of a hang about but we just have to get them wound up prior to the fight. We have to give them the confidence to go out there. Everybody gets nervous, but once the bell goes it’s up to them.”

Amos’ cool demeanour belied his tremendous performance. Despite being bumped up the bill at the last minute, the hands that had been buried in his pockets all night were soon up and ready to go against Spennymoor’s Aaron Camsell.

The 26-year-old light welterweight was slow out the blocks and was forced onto the defensive in the opening round. But it soon became clear that Camsell had blown out of steam and Amos happily picked him off with strong right hands, rocking his opponent at every opportunity.

He would have gone on to win regardless, but when Camsell was penalised for the fourth time for holding on in the second round, the referee called an early halt to proceedings.

Amos said: “That’s the most confident I’ve been before a fight. I was feeling fit and really good and I just wanted to get into the ring.

“He wasn’t hurting me and I was never worried because I knew I could hurt him.

“I was gutted it was stopped because I knew I could stop him. He was struggling and I had plenty in the bank.”

And so it was over to Walker, who was up against it in facing home favourite Michael Dixon.

The 250-strong crowd were all well watered by the time the skirl of the pipes sounded and 33-year-old Walker made his way into the ring amid a smattering of boos.

In what was only his third ever fight, Walker was nervous, but the over-confident Dixon was soon put in his place with a series of hard shots to the head and body. Unfortunately two level rounds were followed by a tiring third from Walker and Dixon narrowly took a majority verdict.

“When he first came into the ring he was cocky,” said Walker. “He thought he was going to put me on my backside, but I hit him with a few jobs and that shocked him.

“I’m disappointed with the result but it’s only my third fight and I’m sure I could get the better of him in a rematch.”

And this was backed up by coach Brogan, who was a proud spectator in his corner.

He said: “The other lad had nine previous fights and the difference in experience was apparent. It’s all part of a learning curve but by no means did he let the club or himself down.”