‘Gown’ only managed to lead the competition once after Imogen Sandford’s win in the fifth fight of the eveningBen Phillips/@capturecambridge_sport

Cambridge University Amateur Boxing Club’s (CUABC) ‘Gown’ boxers fell to overall defeat yesterday evening in this year’s Town vs. Gown event, with the ‘Town’ fighters, who were from various different boxing clubs up and down the country, winning by a score of 10-5.

In preparation for the event, the CUABC’s athletes had been competing since October for a chance to fight under the lights of West Road Concert Hall, steered by the stern guidance of head coach Lee Mitchell and the voluntary coaching staff that consists of Kevan Murphy, John Cafferkey, Will Davies, David Richards, Gary Davidson, Aiden Cope, and Tim Benger.

Tasha Jeyabalan, CUABC’s 2021-22 Women’s Captain, praised the increased presence of female boxers in the Cambridge rings: “The remarkable number of women’s bouts we have [...] reflects the exponential growth of women’s boxing. The many new faces on the team have demonstrated unwavering determination since the first taster session and commitment to the gruelling training programme while balancing their degrees and social lives.” She continued: “I am very proud of every single one of them for demonstrating the willingness and the capability to improve in such a short time.”

CUABC ever-present James Lee put on a strong display yet suffered defeat via unanimous decisionBen Phillips/@capturecambridge_sport

Meanwhile, CUABC’s 2021-22 Men’s Captain, Ryan Lee, spoke on the excitement surrounding boxing’s return: “While Covid may have dashed any hope of an active season last year, the CUABC squad has returned to full strength in 2022, looking more dangerous than ever. In particular, we have had a record amount of interest in the sport this season, allowing us to build a squad with lots of promising new talent and a large range of boxing experience.”

With CUABC approaching its 126th birthday, the club is one of the oldest amateur boxing clubs in the world and also one of the largest sports clubs in Cambridge.

Turning to the first bout of the night, Sophie ‘Shamrock’ Mulcahy took on a strong opponent from up north. Despite a good start from Mulcahy, the Cambridge fighter looked to have swung herself into early fatigue, as her opponent soon established a rhythm with the right hand that proved to be too much to handle. With the referee scratching the bout off halfway through the third and final round, CUABC suffered an opening defeat via TKO.

Michal Slowak made a bid for fighter of the night after a dominant win via TKOBen Phillips/@capturecambridge_sport

An all-CUABC affair took hold of the second bout, with Emily Dellon taking on Sybill ‘The Professor’ Chen in a matchup that ended with a third round TKO in favour of the faster and more agile Dellon.

Sophie ‘So-Fast’ McInerney clashed with her opponent in fight number three of the evening. Although managing to hook up some solid double jabs in the first two rounds, McInerney agonisingly fell short in the third after taking on some bloody damage, resulting in the CUABC fighter losing on a tough unanimous decision.

Homerton’s Emil Ares kickstarted the men’s side of affairs in sweeping fashion, getting the better of his opponent despite a slow start in the first round. After better quality punches in the second, Ares did enough to take the victory via unanimous decision. CUABC’s Imogen Sandford soon followed up with a win via TKO after her opponent struggled with fatigue in round two, putting ‘Gown’ in the driving seat with a 3-2 lead.

Emily Dellon was Cambridge’s first winner of the night, beating Sybill Chen convincinglyBen Phillips/@capturecambridge_sport

The home side, however, endured a tough spell of bouts going into the interval. Ryan Moss put in an admirable performance against his adversary yet found himself on the wrong end of some impeccable connections in the second round, convincing the judges to rule against him unanimously.

Fight number seven saw CUABC Vice-President Shizhang Liu suffer a loss via TKO in round two after coming undone to impeccable inside work from the fighter in the opposite corner. Club veteran James ‘Jimmy Boy’ Lee took to the ring moments later, facing a well-versed opponent. Despite some excellently crafted turn arounds, which allowed Lee to perform strongly on the inside, the ‘Town’ boxer kept it tight and never allowed the Cambridge man to land a killer blow, leading to a unanimous decision in his favour.

But the final fight before the break did witness CUABC pull the overall score back to a modest 5-4, when Michal ‘The Polish Prince’ Slowak executed numerous body shots that left his opponent struggling for breath not long into the third round. Slowak managed to dip in and out well during the fight, saving his energy and allowing him to wear down his opposite number to a TKO loss.

Slowak’s impressive work on his opponent’s body ultimately won him the boutBen Phillips/@capturecambridge_sport

Tianyi Wang brought CUABC out of the break with bout number ten yet unfortunately into a sixth defeat. Often finding himself propped up by the ropes and unable to muster a succession of good shots, Wang lost on split decision. Ollie Rosen cruelly followed his teammate Wang in defeat, losing via TKO in the second round. Although Rosen lost his shape at times during the first in response to some clean footwork from his opponent, a slight stumble in the second was enough to convince the official to call things off - an unpopular decision amongst the crowd and fairly so.

Looking to refind a footing in the competition, Cambridge turned to Fiorella ‘El Fuego’ Gallardo in the twelfth fight, matching up with her opponent in the 58kg weight category. Gallardo, however, struggled to find her rhythm in the face of some lethal right handers from the woman in blue, resulting in a loss via unanimous decision.

Bout number thirteen proved unlucky for CUABC but spectacular for the spectator, as President Will Appleby took on a blistering opponent that left the Cambridge man rattled in the closing moments of the first round. The ‘Town’ fighter landed a plethora of superb windmill punches that looked straight out of the Deontay Wilder handbook, leaving Appleby with a face more red than white come the referee’s decision to end the match not long into round three. In a clash that was worth the admission fee alone, Kendrick Lamar’s DNA blared around the hall post-fight as a fitting sign of the pair’s boxing genes.


Mountain View

Preview: Town vs. Gown back with a bang

Vlad Shutko came up against yet another tough opponent in the evening’s penultimate bout, falling to a loss via unanimous decision after lacking venom in spite of his ferocious footwork.

With ‘Town’ running away with the scoreline heading into the final fight, Men’s Captain Ryan Lee bravely slingshotted himself out of the Cambridge corner following the opening bell. Lee did a good job of catching his opponent out on the half step, while also putting his height advantage to use by unleashing multiple right-hand lunges that left the final ‘Town’ boxer in trouble. With Lee drawing blood from his opponent, the referee called proceedings off in just the second round, again to the deflated disapproval of the paying crowd yet granting a TKO win to the CUABC man.

In spite of the numerous early stoppages across the fifteen fights, Town vs. Gown 2022 proved to be a successful night for amateur boxing, drawing a hefty crowd that consisted of not only Cambridge University students but also fans from across the country.

CUABC’s fighters will next be in action at the 114th Varsity Match on Saturday 5th March, where they will hope to edge a lead in the series that currently stands at a 54-54 deadlock.

The names and club details of the respective ‘Town’ fighters have been omitted from this article out of respect for the wishes of Cambridge University Amateur Boxing Club (CUABC).