Boxing: Lochend rife with optimism ahead of Inverurie semis

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With Lochend boxers filling no less than six of the nine bout spots on the bill for the Scottish Senior amateur boxing championships semi-finals at Inverurie’s Garioch Centre tomorrow, coach Terry McCormack is understandably upbeat about his squad’s chances of making the finals later this month.

For example, at flyweight McCormack is fielding established Indian star and former Punjabi champion, Pushker Singh, against Glaswegian Jamie Wilson. McCormack said: “Pushker and I have never seen Wilson and more importantly, Wilson hasn’t seen Pushker so he won’t know what to expect but I do know that Pushker is much more experienced internationally than Wilson.”

If Singh wins he will earn a finals place against either Martin Beveridge of Garnock or Cleland’s Scott Witherspoon.

In-form light-welterweight Lewis Benson is another of McCormack’s charges in action and he faces a rematch with Inverurie’s James Thomson whom he beat in the Eastern district championships final.

He adds: “If my other 64kgssemi-finalist, Elias Gear, beats Steven Rae (Barrhead) on the same bill, it’s going to be a real headache choosing who’s corner I will go in for the final.”

Meanwhile, Lochend middleweight title hope Tommy Philbin insists a points win earlier this season on a Lochend club show over his opponent on tomorrow, Alloa’s Darren Reid, won’t make him over confident. “He gave me a tough fight back then and I fully expect the same this time around although I’m really determined to become the Scottish champion this year,” said Philbin.

At light-heavyweight, Lochend’s Stevie Nicol is the underdog when he faces Holyrood’s Brian Forsyth, but he is adamant can pull off an upset. “I’ve never seen Forsyth in action but I am a natural heavyweight coming down to light-heavyweight so I think I will be naturally stronger than Forsyth.”

Lochend bantamweight David Dickson took Renfrewshire’s 56kgs Scottish champion Joe Ham right down to the wire before losing on points in last year’s final but Dickson thinks he can rewrite the script this year. He said: “Ham is a heck of a boxer – tough and tricky – but having been given a fright by me last year he’ll know he’s in for a tough challenge again this time.”

Another mouthwatering scrap is the 60kg semi between Meadowbank’s Lewis Paulin and Craigmillar’s Tony James, who impressed in outpointing cagey Holyrood switch-hitter Phil Coppola in last weekend’s Meadowbank quarter-finals. Paulin said: “I have the greatest respect for James, but I aim to make it a hat-trick of titles this year having won the Eastern and Intermediate crowns and James isn’t going to get in my way.”

However, Craigmillar coach Kenny McCartney warned Paulin: “Tony has just come back after a long break from boxing and he’s really hungry to get back to the top again so it should be quite a contest.”

Unheralded Clovenstone light-heavyweight Kevin Gorrian faces formidable Western champion James Cunningham from Glasgow’s Dennistoun club. The Capital’s Holyrood club also have two boxers contesting the heavyweight and superheavy semis against opponents from the Lanarkshire-based Springhill club. In the 91kg heavyweight class, Holyrood’s David Smylie faces Michael Warner, a multiple Scottish heavyweight title winner, while Holyrood’s Daniel Gollan trades leather with super-heavyweight Ross Henderson.

The first five-bout semi-final session at Inverurie will commence at 2pm tomorrow. The second session in the Garioch Centre will start at 5.30pm.