Boxing: Youngster hoping his boxing pedigree will win him title showdown
TEENAGE traveller Simon Doherty says he is in peak fighting shape as he prepares for a national semi-final.
The 15-year-old, from Goldenhill, won the Midlands 57kg to 60kg crown last month with a 21-20 points decision over Dylan Robb.
Now the Stoke YMCA prodigy faces Yorkshire's Brian Jackson in Wakefield today as he fights for a shot at the UK title.
Doherty comes from Romany fighting stock.
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His cousin, Tony Doherty, is a former Welsh champion, while another cousin, Francis, won the ABA welterweight championship and was an unbeaten professional.
But it is his brother, light-middleweight Jimmy Doherty, who has provided his main inspiration.
Hard-hitting Jimmy suffered big-fight heartbreak when a British Masters title contest was scrapped at just 24 hours' notice in December 2008.
Doherty, a quick-footed counter-puncher, said: "I look up to all my coaches and I look up to my brother, a great amateur and a great pro.
"I want to go as far as I can and I've been training hard to get in the best shape.
"I've got a good lad in the semi, but I'm pretty confident. I feel good in myself."
Mitchell Roberts, from the Kidsgrove-based Tom Lowe Boxing Club, narrowly lost his national quarter-final, while nursing a shoulder injury.
The 15-year-old, from Sneyd Green, lost on points to Hertfordshire's James Boswall in the 66kg to 70kg division.
MATTY Birks put in a solid display to claim a Midlands title – but there was count-back heartbreak for his Impact team-mate Jamal Ledoux.
Birks, from Trentham, proved to strong for Dudley's Derek Harkin in the 2-10 senior novice class.
The 20-year-old took the first round 4-1, went 6-3 up in the second and landed some clear shots in the final round to take a convincing points victory 9-6.
Ledoux was involved in an extraordinary bout with Matthew Tinker, from Shepshed, which was very low scoring until the final round, then ended up 27-27 overall.
Impact coach Andy Sedgmore said: "The judges went berserk with the scoring in round three, but the fight was fantastic.
"We thought Jamal had done enough. To lose it on a count-back was heart-breaking."
Birks now faces a trip to Scunthorpe for a national quarter-final on Sunday, November 20.
STOKE YMCA host their own show at Bucknall Community Bowling Club, Werrington Road, on Thursday, November 17. For more information, call Liz Buxton on 07706 658999.