Dann and Bellingham crowned national Senior Novice champs
PLYMOUTH'S Mikey Dann and Jack Bellingham have capped a great year with both boxers returning home as national champions.
Dann and Bellingham claimed their titles at the ABA of England's Senior Novice finals in Sunderland.
Pilgrims ABC's Bellingham outpointed Private Tom Barry, of The Army, over four rounds to give the city club their first national champion.
Likewise, unbeaten Dann has brought national prestige to Plympton ABC, but for the former Plymouth University student, the prize was slightly tarnished as his final opponent failed to show up for the light-heavyweight Class A clash.
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Dann, cousin of former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion Scott 'Dynamite' Dann, was awarded a walkover at the Nissan Sports and Social Club on Wearside.
The 21-year-old Plymothian had been due to face Liverpudlian James Maughan, of Wildcard ABC, who for reasons as yet unclear failed to appear, leaving Dann 'gutted' he had not been able to win the crown in the ring.
Light-middleweight Bellingham had no such mixed emotions on his return to the South West, having 'boxed brilliantly' to outwit and outpoint Barry in their Class B final.
The 22-year-old Pilgrim was shorter and had fewer bouts than Barry, who came into the contest boasting an impressive record of 21 wins from 22 fights.
Barry, at 6ft 2in, had the reach advantage and is a southpaw, but Bellingham made light of those potential disadvantages.
Bellingham's trainer Glyn Mitchell said his young charge did exactly what he was advised by his corner at every turn and rightly returned with the prize.
"Jack boxed brilliantly, just as he has on the way to the finals," said Mitchell.
"On my card, he won the first, possibly shared the next two rounds and then finished with a flurry of combinations in the fourth, to leave Barry sucking in air and covering up.
"Jack's our first national champion at Pilgrims – we've had finalists and semi-finalists before – but this time we've got a title holder.
"It's a great result for Pilgrims and with Mikey coming back with a gold medal too, it is fantastic for Plymouth boxing."
Scott Dann supported the views of Mitchell and praised Bellingham's achievement and was delighted for his cousin, while admitting the Maughan's no-show had cast a pall over the proceedings.
"I really felt for Mikey as did all the other boxers. He'd trained hard and worked hard to make sure he was at his best for the finals," said Dann.
"Mikey went into the final with a 10-win amateur record and now feels somewhat cheated and gutted personally because his opponent didn't turn up.
"We all think he (Dann) would have won anyway, but to go all that way to Sunderland from Plymouth and then not box, was a bummer.
"But he's a champion – and Plympton's first – and that's what matters. Now he can be entered into the senior ABAs and try for a title double this season."
Bellingham, too, will enter the senior ABA championships which start in March and represent Devon again.
The South West has now secured five titles so far this season with Bellingham's and Dann's novice wins, swelled by victories for Bideford's Kyle England and David Bailey of Bristol gym Empire ABC at the tournament.
Coombe Martin ABC's youngster Billy Standsbury was a winner in the NAYCP finals.