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Lawal loss mars a big week for boxing

Controversial split decision is booed as clubs entertain hundreds of fight fans over two nights

08 November, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

Islington team captain Chris Cunningham and BC Landau’s Max Maier, who were voted ‘best home’ and ‘best away’ boxers of the night respectively. Photo: Nicky Nunn

FIGHT fans were sent into a frenzy as not one, but two top boxing clubs hosted shows that really packed a punch.

More than 500 spectators flocked to the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square on Friday as Islington Boxing Club held their first home show of the 2018/19 season. Another 300 fans were lifted out of their seats on Thursday as St Pancras ABC held their annual fundraiser at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel in Marylebone.

In a top night of boxing in Bloomsbury a team of fighters from Bavarian club BC Landau travelled over from Germany to take on Team Islington.

The team from Islington Boxing Club boxed clever to beat their Bavarian counterparts in Bloomsbury. Photo: Nicky Nunn

Among the home boxers who tasted victory was Slavisa Gegic, who returned to winning ways in spectacular style with a stoppage against Kosak Wladimir. In his previous outing the welterweight saw his 21-bout winning streak ended in the final of the England Boxing Development Championships. But any lingering disappointment was quickly dusted off as Gegic stopped Wladimir in the third round of their 69kg contest.

Islington team captain Chris Cunningham also put in a barnstorming display as he gained a unanimous win over Robert Shweiger.

Competing at 75kg, Cunningham was constantly on the front foot as he pressured his German opponent with clever shot selection and devastating combinations – putting in a performance that would later earn him the “best home boxer of the night” award.

Sherifdeen Lawal returned home with the ‘best boxer of the night’ award, despite controversially losing his bout

Islington club manager Reggie Hagland was humble in victory after seeing his charges dominate the showcase.

“The winning 9-2 scoreline suggests it was a one-sided night in favour of Islington, but all of the contests were very competitive,” he said. “It was a very enjoyable night and an experience which I’m sure many of the boxers on the show will never forget.

“It was our fourth team event against BC Landau and we’re hopeful of boxing them again in Germany in 2020. I’d like to thank Peter Prechler and the entire team from BC Landau for their support in putting on another night of top-class boxing.”

The action was just as scorching in W1 where former Chelsea and West Ham manager Avram Grant was among the fans who turned out for the St Pancras dinner show in Portman Square.

Former Chelsea and West Ham manager Avram Grant meets young Saints boxers, Charlie Johnston, Oliver ‘Too Slick’ Forta and Ryan Mulvill

The bout that Grant, who lives in West Hampstead, was perhaps most eager to see was Israel’s David Alaverdian take on national champion Conner Kelsall, from Tom Hill ABC. His fellow countryman made him proud as he beat Kelsall over three three-minute rounds in the 52kg division with a performance that earned him the “best away boxer of the night” award.

There were also wins for Haverstock School pupil Abdul Mulhamed and Jernair Thompson in a good night for the Saints. But the show wasn’t without its controversy as supporters “were left booing” after Sherifdeen Lawal lost his bout via a split decision despite putting in a commanding display that saw him awarded the “best home boxer of the night” award.

St Pancras head coach CJ Hussein said: “I thought Sherif won his fight, and so did the fans, who were booing after the judge revealed his decision.

“Despite that it was a great night of boxing. I want to say a warm thank-you to everyone who came out to support us, both vocally and financially. It was one of our best-ever shows. I also want to thank my coaches, Steve Smith and ‘Big’ Lewis Fattahi, who helped make the night such a success.”

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