Boxing: Roberts' title bid ends in valiant defeat
POTTERIES teenager Mitchell Roberts suffered big-fight frustration at the King's Hall in Stoke.
Roberts had the backing of the home crowd in his CYP Class B 75kg final, but the 17-year-old from Fegg Hayes was unanimously out-pointed by Lewis Edmonson from Southampton's Golden Ring club.
Roberts claimed a terrific scalp in the semi-finals by beating former ABA champion Thomas Hart (Liverpool Rotunda), but he couldn't pin down Edmonson in the biggest fight of his promising ring career to date.
Edmonson was a couple of inches taller – and used his physical advantages well.
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He circled the ring and got behind his jab while Roberts set out to close him down.
Roberts got his hands up, blocked punches on his way into range and then unloaded hooks, but struggled to land cleanly and banged his gloves together in frustration after being out punched in a first-round exchange.
Roberts, sponsored by Biddulph-based Piper Boats, did land a flurry of blows in the first round to give hope to his noisy fans, and a couple of looping rights then found their target in the second.
But Edmonson stuck to his hit-and-move game plan to accumulate points, and when Roberts did get close he grabbed his opponent, picking up a warning from the referee in the last.
Roberts looks sure to get another crack at national honours when the Junior ABA championships start next year – and David Leigh, chairman of Staffordshire Clubs for Young People, hopes the King's Hall can become a regular venue for amateur boxing's big fight nights.
Roberts boxes for Tom Lowe ABC in Kidsgrove.
Lowe is also his coach, and believes nerves got the better of his young charge.
He said: "I think the occasion overawed Mitchell. He wasn't quite at his best and his opponent boxed out of his skin.
"Mitchell is disappointed, but he has done brilliantly to get this far.
"I believe he's the first fighter from Stoke to get to these finals.
"His nerves took over on the night, but he's done the club proud.
"Don't worry, he'll be back. In fact, he's back in training on Monday."
TEENAGE talent Kieran McLaren is in action on Queensberry Police ABC's show at Meir Sports and Social Club next Friday with an 8pm start.
McLaren has won his last 10 bouts, and the 19-year-old will be entered in the ABA championships at 60kgs in the new year.
Club-mate Naz Rafiq, who has twice been beaten in the Midlands ABA final, has been matched with Willenhall light-welterweight Ciaran Hainey.
He will look to build on his points win over Kofi Yates on his club's show which took place in October.
Club secretary John Connelly says welterweight Daniel Harvey will also be matched.