Sadie Thomas ended 2018 in style and she began 2019 with a bang in Hartlepool.
The 19-year-old defeated York’s Kirsty Hill in a cracking contest at Headland ABC’s show at the JD Sports Domes in Seaton Carew on Saturday.
It was a close-run affair with the National Clubs for Boys & Girls champion taking a split decision.
Watched by Headland icon, Savannah Marshall, and team-mate, European Junior champion, Courtney Scott, Thomas performed well in the first, especially when she used her jab, though Hill was clearly no dummy and looked happy boxing on the back foot.
Hill, who represents Cleethorpes Trinity, changed tack in round two, the 27-year-old coming forward to good effect to tie up the bout at one round apiece.
Round three was different again as Thomas, who represented England in the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017, let her hands go at close range.
“Stay there” shouted John Stubbs from the red corner and Thomas followed instructions and each boxer stood and traded, with Sadie shading a fantastic bout both fighters could be proud of.
The show was somewhat late starting after the doctor was delayed while it was chilly inside the venue, but those in the red and blue corners warmed up the packed audience with some great boxing.
No-one more so than Connor Moore Hughes who produced a stunning debut when he outpointed Ellis Bell.
The 14-year-old Headland ABC boxer, the younger brother of unbeaten pro Jay Hughes, was a brilliant mover who operated inside superbly with his Druridge Bay opponent unable to lay a glove on him.
“Don’t force it, relax,” ordered Stubbs in the last and he used his lightning hand-speed to control matters and take a unanimous decision.
It was highly-Impressive stuff as was another Headland debutant, Brandon Grayson, who was a unanimous points winner against Billingham’s Kyle Nottingham.
This was a fight with a capital F.
Grayson was on the attack from the off, forcing Nottingham back on the ropes, but even when Kyle stung Brandon with a fine head shot, it only served to up the 17-year-old’s aggression rating.
Round two was fought in the same vein, and while the pace eased in the third (hardly a surprise), both boxers were lamping each other as the final bell tolled.
Headland sent a total of seven boxers into the ring at the JD Sports Domes and each did coaches Stubbs, Tim Coulter, Ste Hart and Mick Harrison proud.
Ryan Llewellyn was a good junior before showing his moves in a different arena with gifted Hartlepool dance group Ruff Diamond.
But he’s back inside the ropes and he stopped Chendo Dimuna in just a minute in a bout sponsored by one of Hartlepool’s gifted entertainers, Chelsea Ferguson.
Llewellyn’s long rights found their target from the start and when Dimuna took a heavy shot, referee Justin Barnes gave a standing count. And when the Ward-Degnan ABC boxer was on the end of another big punch, Mr Barnes, correctly, stepped in to halt the bout.
Zac Hughes, the younger brother, of CMH, was the first Headland boxer in the ring, making a good first appearance in a skills contest against Wearmouth’s Max Lambert, who looked a fine young talent.
Headland’s Tom Webster put in a good final round against Lewis Fenwick, but the High Fell boxer earned his unanimous points decision.
Louie Lundigran was involved in a lively four-and-a half-minute scrap with Border City ABC’s Matt Howe, who despite coming under pressure in the final round nicked a split decision.
Words: Roy Kelly