CUABC will face Oxford in next month's Varsity matchchristian swallow

Boxing, and the raw brutality and violence that comes with it, is perhaps not a sport commonly associated with the stereotype of the mild-mannered Cambridge University student. Entertaining, intense and dignified, Town vs Gown, however, showcased amateur boxing at its very best, and CUABC’s boxers were rewarded with a narrow 8-7 victory against a ‘town’ team comprised of boxers from a range of boxing clubs around the country.

The first bout of the night saw CUABC’s Dom Atherton come up short against a very strong and powerful opponent from Imperial Boxing club, who was able to land a sting of sustained blows in round two, winning victory after the referee stopped the contest.

Matt Elliot, though, was the first CUABC boxer to taste victory on the night, putting in an energetic display against his taller opponent, who struggled to cope with Elliot’s athleticism throughout and the referee was left with little choice but to stop the contest in round two, much to the delight of the crowd.

CUABC’s Steven McGregor put in a valiant display in the third bout of the evening, but the referee stopped the contest in round two, with McGregor carrying a nasty-looking blood wound in his eye. In the next bout, however, 2018 Varsity lightweight champion Claudia Tam highlighted her credentials for this year’s Varsity match with a comfortable unanimous points decision victory, showcasing her quick feet and dynamism.

“In the 3 years that I’ve been boxing at CUABC, this has been by far the best night of boxing I have ever seen”

CUABC’s winning streak continued in bouts five and six, with victories for Cherry Tan and Athi Chellapa. Chellapa was particularly impressive, landing an especially huge blow at the end of round two, and winning a unanimous points victory.

The town team, however, threatened a comeback in bouts seven and eight. An entertaining and brave display from Jovan Tasev, who produced the night’s iciest pre-bout stare, against a larger opponent eventually resulted in a unanimous points decision defeat, while Alex Liu was unable to build on a strong start in round one, losing on a very tight split decision.

Though CUABC’s Ella Palmer eased past her opponent in bout number nine, bouts ten and eleven again saw CUABC defeat. Alistair Greenberg was edged out of a fiercely-contested bout by a split decision, while CUABC’s Dan Zahedi was the first boxer of the evening to hit the canvas, as his explosive opponent came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, pummelling him with a number of vicious hooks and jabs.

Perhaps the highlight of the night came in bout number 12, as James Lee, 2018 Varsity heavyweight champion, was pitted against a strong opponent from Imperial Boxing club. A large and noisy contingent of supporters for the ‘Town’ boxer, coupled with support for Lee from the partisan home crowd, made for an electric atmosphere within Cambridge Guildhall, and the two did not disappoint, contesting a frenetic and high-quality three rounds of boxing. Though the first and second rounds were tough to call, Lee managed to assert his dominance in the final round, landing a number of vicious blows which left his opponent staggering around the ring, and the unanimous points decision in favour of Lee was met with a standing ovation from large sections of the crowd.

To round off the evening, CUABC’s Alex Stoilov and Seb Dex recorded comfortable victories to give Cambridge an unassailable lead against the ‘Town’ team, while Chris Lim lost the final bout on a unanimous point decision.

Speaking to Varsity after the event, CUABC’s men’s captain Judah Aiyenuro reflected positively on the evening:

“In the 3 years that I’ve been boxing at CUABC, this has been by far the best night of boxing I have ever seen. The crowd atmosphere was electric from start to finish and there were so many spectacular performances throughout the night. The narrow win over the town side doesn’t take away from how well each and every boxer fought, considering it was the first bout for the majority of those competing. The coaches and I were extremely impressed with the quality of boxing and we are looking forward to the rest of the season, which will hopefully bring more success like tonight”


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Thoughts now turn to the 112th Varsity Boxing Match on the 9th March, and Cambridge can take plenty of positives into the final month of training, with James Lee and Claudia Tam in particular sending out a strong message to their Oxford rivals. Certainly though, on the evidence of Town vs Gown, this year’s Varsity Boxing is not one to be missed.

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