Fergus Waddell [/box]
Fighters descended on Dundee from around the country, piling into the small basement club in the Student Union that, for one day only, was converted into a boxing arena to host the coveted Scottish University Championships. There is an excited air of anticipation around the tightly packed auditorium whilst behind the scenes boxers go through their pre-fight routines. The sound of slapping leather echoes throughout the room, pat-pat, pat-pat-bang, “body-body-head”; boxers and coaches perfecting their winning combinations. The tension is building, almost tangible, an electrifying buzz built in the arena as the sound of the bell signifying the first bout looms.
‘Ding-Ding’, the first bout gets underway, although not without some technical difficulties, however, as organisers suddenly realise the exhausted boxers have to remain standing between rounds having forgotten to put stools in the trainer’s corners. Entering the third round of the first bout the referee decides to bring things to a halt – there is a clear winner and the referee stops the fight to protect the athlete’s safety.
This doesn’t do wonders for Ross Hammond: With Glasgow University Amateur Boxing Club’s light-middleweight next in the ring. It’s his first bout and his nerves are evident; his face glistens with the shine of sweat and Vaseline.
They call him the Hitman, yet beneath his usually ice cool exterior the nerves are evident as the southpaw enters the ring for his first major fight.
Yet Hammond dominated the first round, establishing his right jab and landing flush with his left cross to the jaw during several clashes. His opponent, a St. Andrew’s boxing veteran looked stunned. As the bout progresses the second round saw fatigue kick in Hammond’s guard started to lower as he started to throw some tired and aimless punches. Swinging with wild and desperate hooks, but with no real conviction and his opponent was able easily slipped and bobbed out of range. The round seemed to last an eternity as the strong and loud travelling Glasgow constituent make their voices heard – they shout for the end of the round as towards the end the exhausted Hammond started to take a pummelling: facing the wrath of the referee as exhausted he looked to hold onto his opponent.
The fight was marred by controversy and organisational inefficiency as the two fought – 3 minute rounds as opposed to 2. With both fighters exhausted, the complexion of the fight completely changed with Hammond’s team planning their strategy based on the shorter rounds.
The bout went the distance with St Andrews taking the win, after an epic battle , on points. The Dundee crowd showed their appreciation with a standing ovation by the crowd as the loyal travelling Glasgow fans showed their loyal support chanting ‘The Hitman will be back!”
Glasgow’s next contendor is current club captain Mike Love. Standing at five foot five,but despite his short stature he seems more assured and confident before his fight, “I like it when I fight guys who are not afraid to step forward and hit me,” he says, “because then I can fight like I know and love; on the back-foot, under pressure and in close.” Coming into the competition on the back of a big win at the Scottish Novice Championships, the confidence is clear in Mike’s relaxed style.
His opponent, however, is no push-over: last year’s gold medallist, an experienced and unbeaten orthodox pugilist who has gone the distance time and time again.
Round one sees the light-welterweight Love make a promising start showing the kind of fury for which he is best known. His opponent cut early on as his upper lip was burst and blood trickled from his nose. Love made his shots count but it wasn’t enough to stop the constant pressure of the St Andrews fighter as a barrage of hooks slipped through Love’s guard.
With the crowd’s support, a brave Love sparked back into life late in the third round, but the fatigue was telling, and a standing 8 was given as Love was caught on the ropes. The result was a controversial split decision; ultimately the St Andrews fighter was given the win by a tiny margin. The result was reminiscent of the debatable points win for Pacquiao over Marquez in their professional bout in November.
Once more, the technical ability of Glasgow outshone the rest of the competition, but the stamina was not there. Whether it was the academic focus preventing adequate roadwork or the pre-fight nerves that wese responsible – lots of lessons were learnt and will be the focus of next semester’s training and preparation for 2012.
The Glasgow University Amateur Boxing Club meets on Monday and Wednesday evenings in the Stevenson Building, catering for beginners and semi-pros alike. All are welcome.