UEA Boxing Club haven’t competed in a Derby Day for several years running, so you might be forgiven for letting them slip under your radar. But this, says the society’s secretary, Ella Gilbert, shouldn’t fool you. “We’ve been working incredibly hard behind the scenes, and have recently gained ABA [Amateur Boxing Association] satellite status. We want UEA Fight Night 2015 to be bigger, better and more spectacular than ever. We haven’t been able to compete in Derby Day for various pretty sport-specific reasons, but that means we’ve put even more effort into Fight Night”.
Fight Night is a showcase for the best boxing the club has to offer. The event has previously been held five times, and typically includes several bouts in the style of a classic boxing show. The most infamous bout was contested in 2012 between Abdulateef Shogbeni and Michael Gomes, and ended in a knockout after just nine seconds.
Last year, the bloodiest bout by far was between Sam Attwood (below) and Patrick Taks – and unluckily it was also the first. Attwood is boxing again on Wednesday 15th April, and hopes to redeem himself in front of another UEA audience: “I have a point to prove from last year, and after losing over a stone for the fight I am feeling fit enough and strong [enough] to beat Max [Heron]”. He doesn’t intend to take himself too seriously though, given his nickname, “Bloodbath” Attwood, and says he is planning a Robin Hood entrance, draped in a Nottinghamshire flag.
There are some other familiar faces boxing on Wednesday – Ben Phillips, who lost his bout last year, faces off against the club’s treasurer, James Cornforth, who last year was unable to compete due to a broken nose. Cornforth appears to be taking things quite seriously: “I’ve changed my diet drastically, haven’t eaten takeaway for months, trained nearly everyday and quit drinking and smoking and going out”.
This is a trend seen throughout the club, says Gilbert. “Everyone has been training incredibly hard this year, and we proved that at the weigh-in yesterday”. The only thing she regrets is the fact that “there are no women’s bouts this year – that’s been really upsetting for me. I think women’s boxing is arguably a much more technical sport, and it’s such a shame that there won’t be any way of showcasing that”. Gilbert won unanimously last year, and says she wishes she could get back in the ring. Not to be outdone, however, she will be hosting Fight Night along with another club member.
In great boxing tradition of course, there are also some excellent nicknames. 2014 ‘fighter of the night’ Harry Pollard goes by the name Harry ‘the Bollard’ Pollard, and shares the bill with Dan ‘Crimson Chin’ Barge as well as the more classic ‘I’m-gonna-kill-you’ pseudonyms. Cornforth is confident that “Harry is going to knock out Guy [Chatfield] in the first 20 seconds of the second round”. The club has been releasing hype videos every day with opponents trash-talking each other, and there have been some gargantuan statements. It will be interesting to see whether fighters can live up to their own hype. The final fight is set to be released tonight, and is expected to feature the club president, Jordan Morris.
Luckily for the uninitiated, Gilbert has provided a run-down of the line-up:
Arjun ‘Nice Guy’ Rohilla vs Joseph ‘Killer’ Kenny
“Personally I would have put the nicknames the other way round, but that’s just me. ‘Killer Rohilla’ just has such a ring to it. These guys are fighting at bantamweight so I’ve sparred them a few times. Joseph loves a good hook, put Arj has a few nice straight shots up his sleeve”.
Henry Springate vs Dan ‘Crimson Chin’ Barge
“Two newcomers: anything could happen. I’d say they’re well matched, but I would say that”.
Sam ‘Bloodbath’ Attwood vs Max Heron
“Sam’s got something to prove after his nose turned into a fountain last year, and Max is an aggressive and experienced fighter. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out”.
Billy Kensit vs Conrad Francis
“Conrad is an alumnus, and has a lot of experience. He’s technical, but I wouldn’t want to get in the way of his jab. He practically never needs to throw the backhand. Billy is a southpaw and sits a lot on his back foot. He’s definitely got the aggression to drive through his opponent though”.
Ben Phillips vs James ‘Red Terror’ Cornforth
“This is between two committee members with a couple of years’ experience, so it should be a good bout. Plus, you can’t beat a good Bolshevik reference”.
Guy ‘King’ Chatfield vs Harry ‘the Bollard’ Pollard
“Guy’s got the reach, Harry’s got the breadth. It’s tough to call – Harry was fighter of the night last year, and I’m expecting this one to be a howler. Especially as it’s contested at 85kg”.
The last bout has not yet been announced but Gilbert hints that it might feature the club’s president, Jordan ‘Money’ Morris. “There are five committee members – three are featuring in announced fights, and I’m compering… so go figure!”
Morris emphasised that the event is sure to be a spectacle, and has sold out in previous years. “I know [the fighters] will not disappoint. Last year’s show was a big hit but I’m sure this year will be even bigger and better, and I cannot wait for the sound of that first bell”. Gilbert promises more than just boxing, too – “it’ll be fun – if you’ve never been to a boxing show before, this is a good chance to come to one that isn’t just carnage and macho bravado. Not if I’m in charge, anyway”.
Fight Night will be held in the LCR on Wednesday 15th April, and doors open at 18:00.