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Dan Blackford battles through tough heavyweight boxing debut

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

  • MAD DOG TAMED: Brandon 'Mad Dog' Maddock takes a hit from Kyle Pearson in the Barnstaple ABC Show on Saturday night. Pictures: Mike Southon. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20121110D-032_C

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THE SLICK skills of Harry Sügars and the raw rookie enthusiasm of Dan Blackford gave Barnstaple boxing fans an evening to remember.

Barnstaple ABC's first show of the season went off with a bang thanks to wins from an experienced young star and a new heavyweight with heart.

Two days after his 16th birthday, Sügars produced his best performance yet with a clinical second-round stoppage of Billy Butler at St John's Community Centre.

And Blackford, the 29-year-old making his ring debut, defied a nervy first round to take a split decision over colossal Cornish opponent Dan Lees.

Supporters packed into the hall saw 14 bouts and enjoyed none more than the old-fashioned heavyweight slugfest.

Blackford could be forgiven for a shaky start as he stared up at the towering, tattooed boxer from Camborne.

Mayhem ensued from the opening bell when Lees unwound a couple of hefty right hands that the Barnstaple boxer did well to take. Sensibly, Blackford tightened up his guard and began throwing out the jab to gain a foothold in the fight.

Both boxers were out on their feet at the end of the third round when Blackford's straight right wobbled the Cornishman but did not quite send him crashing down.

It was superb entertainment and the two exhausted rivals congratulated each other for their efforts as the verdict was announced.

Having only started training in July, Blackford, from Bratton Fleming, is still learning the finer points of the sport but was delighted with his debut.

"I did judo for ten years and I decided to take up boxing for something different," he said.

"He was a big old bloke and I felt like my legs were made of concrete in the first round. I felt like I couldn't fight any more. I wanted to give it up but I dug in for the second and third rounds.I took some punches but I didn't really feel the shots."

Sügars looked a boxer with a point to prove after his controversial exit from the National Association of Clubs for Young People Championships two weeks ago. He ensured there was no danger of the decision going against him this time, winning by stoppage for the first time in 36 fights.

Butler, the former Bideford boxer, is now representing Torrington Police ABC, the latest club to join a thriving North Devon scene. It was a difficult debut for him in a green vest with Sügars landing blurring rights and continually finding a way through the guard.

After taking an eight-count at the end of the first round, Butler was asked to take two more breathers in the second and, to his frustration, the referee halted the fight.

A similar fate looked likely for Tom Allum when he was rocked by a booming right from Sturminster's Steve Perry in the early stages. Yet the Barnstaple boxer cleared his head and composed himself to mount an impressive response.

A couple of solid left hooks landed by Allum at the end of the second appeared to signify a shift in momentum. He looked the fresher fighter in the closing stages too, but was disappointed when the tight majority verdict went against him.

The rematch between Liam Laird, of Barnstaple, and Harry Webb, of Lympstone, lived up to their original meeting at Exmouth last month.

Landing pacey and precise punches in flurries and showing defensive skills, the pair put on a fine technical display.

Again the victory went to Webb but Laird can take encouragement from another promising performance.

Joe Freeman was never allowed to get into his smooth rhythm against Harry Jose but he stuck to the task, grinding out a unanimous win against an awkward opponent. Jose, of Camborne, had height advantage and the Barnstaple boxer had to be patient before unloading his speedy left hand.

It was a similar story for Patrick Morton who had the home fans cheering their first win of the night in a scrappy encounter with Camborne's Sam Ingram. The cleaner shots were landed by Morton who bloodied his opponent's nose in a frantic start to the final round.

Rob Squires was the other Barnstaple winner, showing more aggression to edge the all-North Devon clash with Combe Martin's Matthew Porter.

The effectiveness of a body blow was demonstrated with ruthless efficiency by Darren Townley at the top of the bill.

Three times the Pilgrims man caught Nico Faassen, knocking the wind out of his sails and ending the contest by stoppage in the first round.

Brandon 'Mad Dog' Maddock showed bite on his home debut, causing problems for Kyle Pearson in the early stages with his hustle-and-bustle style.

But Pearson, of Sturminster, was a sturdy opponent with the skills and speed to unpick his rival and, caught by some stealthy combinations, Maddock was stopped in the third.

Despite the defeat, there was plenty to suggest Barnstaple have unearthed another exciting prospect.

Flynn Elworthy showed glimpses of his potential but was beaten by Kieron Edgeworth, a sharp and strong young boxer from Yate ABC.

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