Cambridge women's boxers won two of three bouts under the Corn Exchange lightsLucas Chebib/Varsity

A raucous home crowd was not enough to ensure victory for the Cambridge University Amateur Boxing Club (CUABC) as they were narrowly edged out 5–4 on a night of entertaining boxing at the 110th Men’s Varsity Boxing. The women’s team, meanwhile, managed to defeat the Oxford University Amateur Boxing Club (OUABC) 2–1 to restore some pride for the Light Blues.

Following a successful showing at the Town vs Gown event, the excitement was palpable in the build-up to the first bout, with the near-capacity, partisan crowd at the Corn Exchange providing the night with a real big fight feel from the outset.

Women’s captain Katie MacVarish put in arguably the most dominant performance of the night as she defeated Oxford’s Rachel Wheatley in the second round. A BUCS silver medallist, MacVarish was completely dominant from the outset, landing three big uppercuts inside the opening minute, as the referee was forced into two standing counts in the opening round. The fight was always unlikely to go the distance and the referee called an end to the fight early in the second, giving MacVarish the TKO victory.

Elsewhere Gaia Laidler defeated Lucy Gaughan after a split decision from the judges, while Maria Do was beaten by Ella Cattle after a second-round technical KO to give Oxford their only win of the Women’s Varsity.

The opening bout of the Men’s Varsity saw a featherweight contest between Pierre ‘The Prince’ Weller and Shamoon Qureshi. A frantic start saw Weller land a fierce jab on his opponent’s cheek in an otherwise close opening round. As the bout progressed, Qureshi gained in confidence and even had the Queens’ man reeling on the ropes in the third round: another right-handed jab, however, at the end of the final round helped ‘The Prince’ to a split-decision victory.

In a decision unpopular with an increasingly rowdy crowd, Cambridge conceded the second fight, a welterweight contest, due to “unforeseen circumstances”, leading to the referee raising Oxford’s Matt McFahn’s hand without a single punch being thrown.

A narrow defeat for Cambridge left a bitter taste in the mouthLucas Chebib/Varsity

Sid Prabhu-Naik was defeated in his light welterweight bout after the first unanimous decision of the night went against him. However, Harry Holdstock brought the score to two wins apiece, defeating Ruari Clark by split decision.

The Light Blues soon made it 3–2 as Elliot Tebboth defeated Gabriele Abbati by unanimous decision. Abbati struggled in the opening round to deal with Tebboth’s low stance and the Light Blue had his opponent on the ropes as he tried in vain to change his style to match.

The second round saw Tebboth go on the offensive, sensing he had the beating of Abbati. A sequence of frantic and relentless attacks had the crowd cheering every lusty blow landed by the Selwynite. Victory was assured in the third round as a sharp jab to the nose from Tebboth saw his opponent bloodied as the round ended.

Three consecutive losses marked the turning point for the Light Blues, with Oxford taking an unassailable lead. Pawel Borowski, Club Captain, Ciaran Hill, and President, James Kuo were all unable to record victories, with Kuo and Hill unfortunate to see split decisions go against them.

With Oxford already victorious going into the last bout, there was only pride at stake for Cambridge as Judah Aiyenuro took on Enzo Frater in the heavyweight contest. Despite the clear height and reach advantage of his opponent, Aiyenuro was evidently inspired by the boisterous supporters from his fellow St John’s students. Landing a number of sharp punches in the first round, including a fierce right to the cheek, Aiyenuro provided little respite for his opponent.

The second round saw the Light Blue slip on the mat and briefly go to ground, although Aiyenuro recovered admirably to once again take the round. A change in tactics in the third saw a much more evasive style from the Cambridge man as he ducked and dived as Frater desperately attempted to land a decisive haymaker. It was the Johnian who took the unanimous victory after dominating again in the third round, forcing Frater onto his back foot after a quick combination.

Ultimately this must go down as a disappointment for Cambridge, who will feel aggrieved by a number of split-decisions. The women’s team provided the obvious highlight, dominating and outclassing their Dark Blue opponents. For the men, though, it was a matter of narrow margins that cost them

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