Plymouth trio make semi-finals of national novice champs
DELIGHTED duo Mikey Dann and Jack Bellingham have joined fellow city fighter Brad Bugdale in reaching the semi-finals of this year's national senior novice championships.
Devonport Amateur Boxing Club's talented 19-year-old flyweight had already received a bye into the semi-finals which are being staged at the Somerfield Leisure Centre in Hastings, Sussex on Saturday, December 1.
Bugdale's passage through to the penultimate stage of this season's novice tournament had been eased through a lack of likely opponents in a very light weight category.
Plympton ABC's Dann and Pilgrims ABC's Bellingham have had no such problem in finding rivals along the way, although Bugdale's inactivity is not of his own making.
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For Bellingham and Dann, who compete in Class B and Class A, their progress have come via tough qualifiers and now, with reputations enhanced, they are just one win away from a place in the finals.
In the novices, contests are separated into A and B classifications – the former for boxers with less than 10 bouts and the other for those who have up to 20 contests on their record.
Lack of experience did not affect light-heavyweight hopeful Dann, who came through his three-rounder against dangerous opponent Paul Devlin with assurance at Sunday's venue, The Look in Norwich.
Cheered on at ringside by his family fan club led by former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion Scott 'Dynamite' Dann, the 21-year-old progressed assuredly with a unanimous points verdict.
Chelmsford's Devlin had blown away his previous three opponents all by knock-outs, but found Dann more than a match.
Dann, wisely, kept Devlin at arm's length in the first, using the ring to his advantage and scoring from distance.
This tactic clearly proved irritating to Devlin, and in the second as Dann switched to his left, caught the Plymothian with a fierce hook.
However, Dann, simply shook off the blow, grabbed Devlin and allowed his head to clear, thus negating the Essex hopeful's chances of a second-round stoppage.
Devlin came out all guns firing in the final round, realising that he was behind on the judges' cards and needed a stoppage to beat Dann.
But Dann had anticipated a Devlin charge and upped his game accordingly and saw out the final two minutes safely to deservedly gain a unanimous decision.
Dann will now face Richard Dyke, of Kent's Battlebridge ABC in his semi-final.
Bellingham's opponent in the semis is Dan Norman of another Kent outfit, Tenterden ABC.
Pilgrims' excellent young light-middleweight Bellingham showed versatility and discipline in overcoming and outwitting Richard Gray, of Chelverden ABC.
Bellingham was awarded a majority decision in a cagey affair where the city boxer's better shot selection and greater accuracy tipped the scales with the judges.
After two rounds, largely dominated by the skilful Bellingham, Gray tried to draw the Plymothian into a scrap.
However, Bellingham remained elusive, leaving a conclusive decision resting on the final round.
It was here that Bellingham's guts, determination and fitness came into play as he fought intelligently to thwart Gray and book his place in the semis.
Pilgrims coach Glyn Mitchell said both boxers deserve high praise for their efforts and stand every chance of competing for a national title in Sunderland on December 8.
He said: "Very well done to both Jack and Mikey, who did themselves, their clubs and the city of Plymouth proud.
"I believe if they box as well as they did on Sunday in Norwich and with Brad, too, in the mix, Plymouth could have three boxers in next month's finals.
"A big thanks, too, for Scott and other members of the Dann clan, who made themselves heard in a crowd of 850, and helped the fighters' cause."