The saying ‘Train hard, fight easy’ takes on a new significance for a boxer when you come back from the Christmas holidays unfit and overweight due to the standard festive binge, with a fight fast approaching at the end of the month. This is the situation I found myself in on January 1.
Fast forward four weeks, and I’m a staggering 9 kilos lighter and in the shape of my life for the English University Boxing Series, which this year was hosted by the University of Essex between the January 26 and February 3. The Series allows universities to accumulate points on a league table, with the winners being the university with the most points at the end of the 2013 season. Over 200 boxers entered the Essex event, split over both weekends.
The format of the tournament saw me entered in the 75 kilogram weight-class, in the ‘Under 2 Fight’ category. After the morning weigh-in, the day commenced with 56 boxers competing for their respective universities, with a strong home contingent cheered on by the local Essex students and staff.
With the ring set-up in the University’s main lecture theatre, a large crowd watched on as the pugilists pitted themselves against each other. My unique status as an individual entrant was made clear at the start of the day, resulting in much crowd support for me as the ‘underdog’.
I faced an opponent from Coventry University in one of the earlier fights of the day, fighting fifth on the roster.
The first round began with straight shots from both sides, with an early flurry from the Coventry fighter showing that he meant business, seeking both head and body shots in combination. Two crunching uppercuts in the clinch forced my opponent to keep his distance as the round progressed. Finishing the round strongly, both fighters managed to land hooks to the head on the bell.
Round two, and the lazy use of my jab allowed the Coventry fighter early dominance as he landed shots from the outside, repeatedly landing his left hook to the head. A warning from the referee to keep my shots landing straight marked my poor performance in the round, with Coventry University winning a round back, making the final round the decider.
Both fighters came out strong on the bell, making good use of straight shots in combination. Fitness became a factor as Coventry resorted to holding repeatedly as the fighter tired, while I managed to catch him repeatedly on the break. As the final bell went, the fight was in the hands of the judges. Much to the crowd and my own delight, the judges ruled in my favour, giving me a victory by points.
The win puts the University of Leeds in good stead for their upcoming Varsity match versus Leeds Metropolitan on Wednesday March 6, where numerous will boxers compete in the electric atmosphere at the Carnegie Annexe for Varsity glory.