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Arena boxing bow is hailed a success
FOUR North-East fighters marked their professional debuts with victory, as a North- East venue staged outdoor boxing for the first time.
Chris Wood, from Darlington, and Barnard Castle-based Owen Raine both scored points victories in their bouts at The Northern Echo Arena, in Darlington, on Sunday.
Organisers set up the boxing ring in a corner of the pitch at the arena, the home of Darlington Mowden Park rugby club, and were delighted with the event, described it as a major success in spite of the wet and windy weather.
Wood got the better of Anwar Alfadi over four threeminute rounds.
The bantamweight rarely looked troubled in a cagey opening round and regularly had his opponent on the ropes as the fight wore on.
At one point, Alfadi seemed to gesture in admiration at his opponent’s offensive form and Wood took advantage claim the upper hand.
He left Alfadi briefly on the mat, only for the Sheffieldbased fighter to quickly spring back to his feet.
Wood shrugged off signs of tiredness to claim the bout on a points decision by 39 to 36.
In the second of the five match-ups, Raine made the most of the height and reach advantage he claimed over opponent Andy Hardy.
The fight was stopped temporarily in the fifth round, while Hardy received treatment for a cut eye.
Raine showed superior technique throughout to claim a 60 to 54 points win, while Hardy’s aggression ensured he was never totally out of contention.
Both Wood and Raine train at Darlington Boxing and Martial Arts Academy (DBMA), which is based at the arena.
Coach Paul Hamilton organised the event, which also featured the professional debuts of Danny Fleary and Michael Joyce.
They secured points victories over Remigijus Ziausys and Tomas Samusas respectively, with Hamilton delighted with Fleary’s showing.
“It was his first fight but you’d have thought it was his 31st,” he said.
“He was up against a Lithuanian that had had over 70 fights and boxed Derek Chisora not long ago, but Danny boxed extremely well and won every round.”
Neil Hepper’s clash with Youssef Al Hamidi was the main bout of the event and the Darlington fighter did not disappoint.
Hamilton said: “Neil had a game plan and he stuck to it, he was boxing a lad that has fought everyone.
“All the lads did really well, out of 22 rounds, we did not lose a single round on the day.
“All the lads prepared properly for Sunday and it showed what a professional set-up we’ve got at DBMA.”
Hamilton thanked Martin Carrick of Eastbourne Roofing for ensuring the show went ahead.
He said: “The weather did us no favours at all. The wind blew the roof off we’d erected and at first we weren’t sure what to do, but Martin helped us out.
“It took us nine hours to put the canopy up so we were up all night Saturday putting the roof above the ring and all the hard work paid off in the end.
“It’s a mega venue for the town and events like Sunday’s prove that the arena can be used for more than just rugby.
It needs to be more often.”
- Darlington-born Hepper will be in action next week having been called up to fight on the David Haye versus Tyson Gay under card when he will face Team GB Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell.
The bout in Manchester on September 28 will be shown on Sky Sports.
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