Trinity Boxing Club captain Russ Henshaw gave an heroic performance in Portsmouth at the weekend as he faced local fighter Greg Bridet for the national novice class B title.
But it was the home town boxer who claimed the title and broke the Ilkeston man’s unbeaten record, in what was the outstanding contest of the day at the Mountbatten Sports Centre.
Henshaw, 27, started the four-round heavyweight final at a tremendous pace and landed big punches, but the Portsmouth boxer came back strongly in the later part of the round, even giving the Trinity star a count to even things up.
It was a surprise to the Trinity corner to find their man was trailing by eight points in what seemed an even first round.
With this knowledge, Henshaw piled on the pressure from the start of round two and inflicted a count from a big right hand, but the game Bridet came back well in what was a thrilling final that swayed both ways.
Although still appearing to be an even contest, Bridet had improved his lead to 12 points and a solid start to the third round in which he put another count on the Trinity man would have extended his lead, but from then on it was one way traffic as Henshaw battled to try and claim his second national title of the year.
But again Henshaw had lost ground according to the judges on the computer scoring system and started the fourth and final round 20 points down.
Henshaw now knew his only hope was a knock-out or a stoppage and he set about this task with great determination and courage.
Inside 20 seconds he had forced another standing count and had Bridet hanging on.
Another barrage of heavy punches from the Trinity man should have given Bridet another count as he floundered against the ropes and left him one count away from defeat, but instead the referee broke them up and allowed the fight to continue.
To his credit, Henshaw continued to bombard the local man with heavy punches but, although taking the round by a wide margin, the Trinity man was to taste defeat for the first time after 11 straight wins.
The final score was, given the close nature of the bout an incredible 50-35 as Bridet improved to 16 wins from 19 contests.
Trinity club leader Scott Rafferty said: “I was very proud of Russ’s performance and despite the wide margin I thought it was a very close bout and i thought Russ had done enough to win.
“To go to the other man’s own town in a national final is a tough assignment, but Russ gave 100 per cent and if the referee had called the counts when Russ punished his opponent the title would have come back to Ilkeston.”