Sheffield Varsity got into full swing for 2016 with the boxing on Wednesday evening. After the snow sports earlier in the year had left both universities tied on one point each there was hope that this event would send Hallam into an early lead.
University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre hosted the action and the enthusiastic atmosphere in the venue was tangible.
Hallam were clearly the more vocal of the two unis and, with the signature chorus of “I’d rather be a poly than a c***” ringing around the arena, it was hard to tell if Uni of had even turned up.
After some excellent undercard action, which saw Callum Simpson claim the vacant light-heavyweight Yorkshire Elite Challenge belt, the Varsity bouts began.
Ben Otter (SHU) vs. Chris Taylor (UoS) was the first Varsity contest of the night. Although Taylor did have the greater reach in this contest, and was able to keep Otter at bay in the early minutes, it soon became his undoing.
Otter was able to get inside and land some successful head shots which saw the UoS fighter receive a bloodied nose. Although Otter was briefly knocked down in the second round, he was able to battle through, and ultimately win the bout. 1-0 Hallam.
The second bout was Alireza Foroughi (SHU) vs Niall Patrick (UoS) and the Hallam fighter never seemed troubled throughout the contest. Foroughi was a much more composed fighter than his counterpart and this allowed him to connect with several strong flurries throughout the bout which ultimately brought Patrick down. The Hallam fighter simply outclassed his opponent to make it 2-0 overall.
With Hallam in a commanding lead, the third bout saw John McKeating (SHU) go up against Harry Hughes (UoS). In the early stages of this bout, the fight really seemed like a close contest – both fighters were a similar build and were holding their own.
McKeating was caught some time into the first round which clearly left him dazed. The Hallam man fought valiantly throughout and did manage to pull through to reach the third round but was counted out for a technical knockout. 2-1 Hallam heading into the intermission.
It was fortunate perhaps that UoS had finally won a bout, purely for the fact that it seemed to have woken them up. The Hallam crowd were making their presence – and dominance – known, drowning out the host fans throughout the first three bouts.
Conor Quinlan (SHU) vs. Rob Dixon (UoS) followed the intermission and it was one of the closest fights of the entire night. Both fighters gave as good as they got but it was UoS’s fighter who was taking damage with a cut opening up around his eye. Unfortunately, after being knocked down, Quinlan was unable to recover – the fight really could have gone either way before this.
With the score now level at 2 apiece the next bout was crucial and it saw Matthew Smith (SHU) vs. Yaseen Noorani (UoS). Smith was a dominating figure in this match and easily controlled the opening exchanges. An explosive hit from the Hallam fighter saw Noorani hit the floor. From that point Smith was too much for the UoS fighter. Hallam took the point, and Noorani took a bloody nose for his troubles, from black and gold to black and blue.
With Hallam having taken a 3-2 lead going into the final bout of the evening, it seemed ever so ironic that the Uni of crowd began to jeer “If you can count to 3, stand up”. Perhaps they were having some difficulty working out the score…
The final fight of the night saw Joe Moylan (SHU) vs. Hashim Rehman (UoS) and this bout was also for the Yorkshire Developmental Belt.
This fight was intensely competitive, smart fighting from both boxers left it a difficult fight to call. Rehman was able to edge it to win the bout and the belt, leaving the score tied at 3-3 on the night.
A fantastic night of fighting and an electric atmosphere saw Hallam and the University tied come the end of the night. The result means both walk away with half a point and the Varsity score remains all square at 1.5 points apiece.
Words and photos by Ryan Newsam.
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