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Precious win for Jem as boxing club’s pair clinch national titles

Manager tells of pride as stablemates put in stunning performances at the ABAs

19 April, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

Jen Campbell on her way to beating favourite Laura Stevens at the Manchester Convention Centre

TWO seniors from one of the busiest boxing clubs in London really hit the heights on Saturday when they were crowned England Boxing National Amateur Champions.

Masood Abdullah and Jem Campbell from Islington Boxing Club stepped between the ropes at the Manchester Convention Centre as contenders, and proudly strutted out as conquerers of the country after winning the championships, formerly and still commonly referred to as the Senior ABAs.

Competing at Under-60kg, Abdullah squared up against an awkward opponent in the shape of Darlington’s Joe Tyers. The lightweight showed plenty of aggression as he pressured Tyers onto the back foot and, despite the lack of “quality punches” landed, put in a high-tempo work-rate that was more than enough to earn the win via unanimous decision.

Abdullah adds the national title to the Senior Development Championships title that he won back in October.

“Masood has put his name on the map. It’s a fantastic achievement to win the elite championships at only 29 bouts,” said Islington club manager Reggie Hagland. “It’s hard to believe he only made his debut in February 2017. He is a boxer who is difficult to tell to have a rest.”

The success didn’t stop there for the Hazellville Road club, however, with Campbell also reigning in the ring in the Under-69kg division. She took on the experienced Laura Stevens from Far Cotton Boxing

Club in Northampton, who was named as the number one seed by England Boxing and was appearing in her third elite finals in a row.

The referee raises champion Masood Abdullah’s hand in victory after his win over Joe Tyers

Campbell got off to a shaky start, allowing Stevens to land big overhand rights. In the second and third rounds, however, the Islington boxer started to move around the ring fluently and landed eye-catching combinations.

It proved enough to earn Campbell a split decision victory, maintaining a club tradition of welcoming home a female elite champion every year since 2014.

“Jem is in the gym three nights a week without fail,” revealed Hagland. “She has improved massively over the last six months with the variety of female sparring she gets most evenings. They have brought her on and helped build her confidence up. Hopefully her win will bring on the others as I believe success breeds success.”

As if they didn’t already have enough reason to celebrate, Abdullah and Campbell have been called up to represent England in the forthcoming Elite 3 Nations Championships, which take place between May 24 and 26 in Scotland.

Islington came close to having three national champions on Saturday, but it just wasn’t meant to be for Connor Daly.

Taking to the ring at Under-52kg, he became the club’s first male senior elite boxer to compete in the national finals since 1996. But to return to London as a champion was never going to be easy as he would have to dethrone the current holder of the flyweight title and England Boxing number 1 seed, Hamza Mahmood, from Hoddesdon Boxing Academy.

The opening round was close with both boxers having their successes, but in the end Mahmood won it 3-2 according to the five scoring judges. Mahmood stretched his lead in the second, and, although Daly pressured his opponent on the front foot in the third and final round, it wasn’t enough to stop his rival from taking the contest courtesy of a 3-2 split decision.

Hagland said that Daly was “visibly disappointed with the decision”, adding that he can be “very proud” of what he has achieved in a short space of time since becoming a senior boxer.

Hagland said: “The club believe he has a bright future in front of him. He is one of our most dedicated boxers and is a great example for all to look up to, especially the infant and junior boxers he trains.”

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