Henshaw so close but Barclay banks the win

Simon Barclay (left) and  Russ Henshaw are pictured after their thrilling bout which brought the spectators to their feet in Northampton.
Simon Barclay (left) and Russ Henshaw are pictured after their thrilling bout which brought the spectators to their feet in Northampton.

Trinity Boxing Club had a disappointing day in the ABA championships in Northampton last weekend despite an outstanding effort by their fighters.

Heavyweight Russ Henshaw once again came up against reigning national and British champion Simon Barclay of Corby in the East Midlands final and the pair produced a battle worthy of the national final itself.

This was a repeat of last year’s Midland ABA final that was just edged by Barclay and was equally as memorable.

The Trinity star made the early running and attacked the body, sinking in some sickening punches to the ribs behind the elbows of the taller Corby man.

Barclay, who is far more experienced than Henshaw who was having only his 19th contest, used the experience of his 50-plus fights to pick out punches as Henshaw advanced and caught him with a big right hand to the top of the head near the end of the first round, causing the referee to issue a standing count.

Although shaken, Henshaw responded well and came back with his own big punches as the round ended.

Henshaw again put the pressure on in the second round but Barclay responded to thrill the excited crowd at the impressive Royal Derngate Theatre.

The final round provided even more thrills as both went to war to take the inaugural East Midlands title and most importantly progress in the competition, with the winner of this fight likely to be a strong favourite to take the national title.

Henshaw again targeted the body and Barclay had to dig deep to withstand the painful onslaught but he used his feet well to find space to return his own heavy punches and a right uppercut, left hook combination produced another count against the Trinity man.

Henshaw was undeterred and continued to land his own big shots to the body and head until the final bell which was met by a standing ovation from the noisy crowd.

The referee raised both fighters’ hands as a mark of admiration for their outstanding battle and the boxers embraced in mutual respect as they both waited nervously for the judges’ verdict.

Barclay again took that verdict, but Henshaw is getting closer to taking his crown and was again unfortunate in a very close encounter.

There was disappointment for the club before the competition even began when they were forced to withdraw super heavy weight hopeful Jake Harrison the previous day when the newly crowned national novice champion succumbed to flu.

Harrison was bitterly disappointed but at just 23 he has plenty of time on his side and already has the national title to his name this season.

There was better news though for Jamie Williams, as the 21-year-old flyweight moved through to the next stage of the competition when he was un contested and will now face the Midland Counties champion on March 17 for a place in the national quarter final.

Middleweight Alex Reed had a tough return to the ring after more than a year away and maybe that was the difference between him and Josh Laurent of Leicester club, Belgrave.

Laurent was content to box off the back foot and look to sneak points from fast counter punches.

As the semi-final bout progressed, Reed was always looking to catch up and as the bout closed out Laurent was still picking up points and gaining in confidence with the Trinity man looking to find the punch to turn the fight his way.

Trinity club leader Scott Rafferty said: “All the club’s coaches have worked very hard with the lads in the championships and we have seen a fantastic response from them all.”

“There is a lot to be gained from the experience of preparation and all will know what is required to be a champion.

“We are still very hopeful that Jamie Williams can fulfil his potential and make progress in the competition.

“Russ and Alex gave everything they had and in Russ’s case he matched the best in the country.

Jake will be disappointed but as plenty of time on his side, and we can see these lads and the whole club moving forward.

“To have four boxers enter an elite competition is outstanding and speaks volumes for the quality within the club.”