By Dan Heard
Cardiff University’s Amateur Boxing Club put on their first home Fight Night last Monday in Y Plas, with an excellent turnout to watch eight bouts between some of the finest fighters the club had to offer. They squared off against opposition in rival clubs from Bristol and Worcester University, losing only once against such tough opposing boxers. The night featured two excellent sparring matches between fighters from within the Cardiff club- and began with Jack Levy taking on Alex Tennyson Mackay. Levy, from Cape Town in South Africa originally and studying Ethical Hacking, squared up to Tottenham born Maths student Tennyson Mackay as the first bell rang. In what was a pulsating opening bout of the night, the three rounds flew by, as did the punches. Both put absolutely everything into each round, and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted to see- passion, hunger and determination, something the remaining fighters thankfully showed in abundance all night long.
Next up, the first competitive match-up between Matt McFerran of Cardiff and Bristol University’s Reece Cammock. McFerran, who attended Whitchurch High School, famed for producing talented sports stars, was looking to dismantle Engineering student Cammock from the off. After walking out to a bit of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ by the Arctic Monkeys to get the eager crowd going, McFerran produced an excellent display in what was a tightly contested bout. Cammock, clearly a skilled fighter, pushed him all the way, with both landing precise jabs throughout the rounds, before McFerran was announced as the winner in the first of many for Cardiff on the night.
Then it was the turn of Jordan Daruvalla, a real driving force behind not only the club but the night itself. Originally from Truro, Cornwall, Daruvalla entered with much of the same fanfare and excitement from the pumped-up crowd as McFerran before him, ready to take on opponent Alex Maguire. In what was arguably one of the more one-sided bouts of the night, Daruvalla was dominant from the first bell to the last, applying an unrelenting pressure to Maguire, who for the most fought back well before the towel was eventually thrown in. Daruvalla, in an exclusive interview with Gair Rhydd, said of the fight afterwards:
“I feel it went really well. I came out quite strong, and my opponent was strong to begin with, but I think, over the three rounds, as it progressed, he started dropping his hands, and as you saw, it was called in the third round. I didn’t expect the towel to get thrown in- I wasn’t really sure what happened there, as it was thrown out, then thrown back in, but overall I think it was the right decision from the referee to stop the fight there. The night itself I feel went very well. It took a lot of preparation. We’ve had boxing nights before in places like Oceania, but this was our first “home” show in the Union. We want this to become a centrepiece in the AU’s calendar, and hopefully it’ll be an event which will continue next year and in years to come.”
He was joined for an interview, and in picking up a victory, by fellow Cardiff fighter Jack Pattison, who beat Bristol’s Ben Rose in the last fight before the break. Entering to the tune of the Rolling Stone’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Pattison, an experienced boxer, was equally as thrilled as Daruvalla following the win: “It was a tough fight. It gave me a lot to think about, but once you start analysing your opponents’ weaknesses and start picking them apart, it gets easier. First round, it was quite tough, but in the second and third round, I started getting a measure of him, managed to get a few more heavy shots off of him, and then got a standard eight-count in the third.”
“It was a fantastic night- we’d been training so hard, doing extra sessions in our coach’s gym, and it’s all been worth it, it really came together nicely tonight.” Both agreed that the night provided an excellent springboard towards the Welsh Varsity in just over a month’s time. “We’ll have a couple of weeks resting after tonight, before we head back into training” Jordan said, while Jack added: “The Swansea crowd got on our backs last year and gave us some stick! But it’s all good fun!”
Following an energetic performance from Cardiff’s Fitness and Dance squad at the break, the action resumed with the second sparring bout of the night, and the only all-female bout also, as Cardiff club members Alice Gillman and Zara Siddique produced an excellent display. Both were arguably evenly matched, with the pair displaying a key combination of quick, high jabs and an impressive accuracy in their shots. Much as the first fight, they gave as good as they got, and fired up the crowd once again for the remainder of the night’s action.
It was the turn of Politics and Economics student Dan Barratt to enter the ring, up against Bristol’s Ben Nicholls. Clearly confident ahead of the bout, as proceedings got underway, Barratt appeared not to acknowledge the sportsman-like offer of touching gloves extended by Nicholls, before proceedings quickly took a sharp turn in favour of the visitor. Nicholls was relentless, in one instance even forcing Barratt onto the ropes on the near side of the ring, battering his opponent about throughout the first pulsating round. It became apparent that as the second round progressed, Barrett could not, as the towel was thrown in shortly after in Cardiff’s first defeat of the evening.
Stepping into the home corner next was Ian Williams, the Nairobi-born powerhouse who, almost immediately, you could sense was the favourite for the fight. He was head and shoulders above his opponent Sam Bernard, both literally and, as it turned out, in ability also. Though Bernard did offer some good counter-attacking moves, it was clear who the victor would be, as Williams was in control of the bout from the first minute, A unanimous decision from the judges saw Cardiff pick up yet another victory heading into the final fight, which featured a competitor who had travelled all the way from Worcester for the event.
Crispin Boden-Tebbet, who lives in Swansea, was pitted against Cardiff’s Brad Meddings in the last bout of the evening, with the pair pushing each other to the limit throughout. Boden-Tebbet was perhaps the most equally-matched fighter in terms of ability and skill when compared with Meddings, though it was the home fighter who triumphed, rounding off an excellent night for the club and for the University.