Mikey Dann and Jack Bellingham both reach novice boxing finals
RING rookies Mikey Dann and Jack Bellingham are both just one win away from becoming champions after the city duo reached this weekend's Senior Novice Finals in Sunderland.
Dann and Bellingham are through to the showpiece event following disciplined and skilful displays in the southern half of the national tournament's semi-finals at Summerfield Leisure Centre in Hastings.
Plympton ABC's Dann, younger cousin of Scott 'Dynamite' Dann, out-pointed local favourite Richard Dyke, while Pilgrims' Bellingham also won by majority decision, outclassing Daniel Norman.
Devonport ABC's talented flyweight Brad Bugdale made the Senior Novice Championship's semi-finals but found his opponent, the exotically-monikered Blessed Sithou, too strong for him.
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Light-heavyweight Dann was supported ringside by the Dann family, including former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion Scott, as they have all through the championships.
He was up against a boxer who had knocked out his previous three opponents in the tournament and who had the biggest support of any at the finals.
To add to his advantage in the Class A (below 10 amateur bouts) clash, Battlebridge ABC's Dykes from nearby Redhill in Surrey was a southpaw.
If Dann was fazed, he certainly didn't show it and picked off Dyke with clever counter-punching, opening up with combinations and dominating the opening round.
Dyke tried to rattle the Plymothian in the second round but Dann kept his cool and although the Surrey-based rival caught the eye in the two rounds, the Plymothian kept a cool head and boxed sensibly at range.
The third and final round was the liveliest of the bout with Dann hitting hard and finishing with a flourish.
When Dann's hand was raised in triumph, Dyke's supporters were stunned into silence while the Devonian's fan club cheered their young star out of the ring.
Light-middleweight Bellingham had four rounds to negotiate in his Class B (for boxers between 10-20 bouts) encounter with Tanterden's Norman.
After an even and cagey first round, Bellingham was put under pressure by his Kent opponent in the second with Norman probably taking a small lead into the third.
Bellingham came to life in the third round, upping his work-rate and peppering Norman with shots to leave the outcome of the semi-final hanging on the fourth and last round.
Bellingham gave Norman little room or time to mount attacks and the bout finished with the latter on the ropes.
Meanwhile, Bugdale boxed bravely throughout his Class B four-rounder and tried to force the Isle of Thanet's Sithou out of his stride in the opening round.
However, Sithou was having none of it and had the edge throughout, taking a unanimous verdict from the judges.
Pilgrims coach Glyn Mitchell praised all three boxers and said he was looking forward to this weekend's finals in Sunderland – if not the long trip north.
Mitchell said: "All the boys did really well and Mikey and Jack were full value for their wins.
"I thought Brad did really well too, but the other boy was very strong and well-supported."
Mitchell added: "We are thrilled to have one of our boxers through to the final and on behalf of myself and our coaching team Andy and Nathan Zacharkiw, it's a great effort.
"The Dann family again turned up in numbers and supported Mikey – they must be proud of him – as he is of them.
"Roll on Saturday, although none of us are relishing the long trip to Sunderland."