Johal and McGhee show way to take Female ABA final victories
THE finals of the Female ABA Championships brought a mixture of joy, disappointment and frustration for Derbyshire's seven hopefuls.
Chantelle Johal and Shai-Anne McGhee brought titles back to the county from the finals weekend at Cannock but Autumn Goodwin and Gemma Smith were both beaten.
Talia Anthony, Suzanne Watson and Jessica Poxon did not even get as far as stepping through the ropes as late withdrawals by their opponents meant they did not get the chance to compete in the finals.
Johal was faced with a repeat of her 2011 final, against Amy O'Kane of Bristol club St John's, and if their last meeting was competitive, this was even closer.
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Plainly, O'Kane had learned from defeat two seasons ago as she changed tactics to attempt to cramp and bully the 21-year-old from Merlin from the first bell to the last.
Johal had to work hard to make the room to show her skills but the sharpness gained from her semi-final victory over Ambreen Sadiq of Eastburn the previous week meant she was able to land the cleaner shots throughout and that was enough to give her the senior class B 54kg title by a narrow points margin.
McGhee was able to work off her rough edges the previous week on a club show in Hull, though a points defeat showed she had plenty of improvement to make in the schools 56kg final against Elizabeth Dillon of Moss Side Fire Station.
However, the 15-year-old from South Normanton SOB, who did not have a competitive bout for two years before that trip to Hull, was much better in a positive first round in which she landed good straight shots.
Her Manchester opponent was stung into a response and had the better of the second round but, sent out to meet head on the pressure Dillon was trying to put her under, McGhee stood her ground in the last round and showed a lot of character to take a unanimous verdict.
The difference between regular and a lack of activity was plain to see as 17-year-old Goodwin took on Poppi Burton (SYD Ringside) in the junior 58kg final.
This was a rematch of the 2011 final but while Goodwin had not fought since then, Burton had won her last nine outings, including a win over a two-time Australian champion for an England representative team, and this was her 21st contest, as opposed to her Pegasus opponent's seventh.
That showed in Burton's improved footwork and movement and though there were few points between them on all five judges' cards, the balance was with the Yorkshire boxer on each of them.
Smith started well in her senior class B 67kg final against Mondana Fard of Heart of Portsmouth and edged the first round but Fard worked hard to deny the Derby City boxer the space she prefers after that and took the unanimous points decision.
For five-time champion Anthony (Chadd) and two-time champion Watson (Power Gym), their hopes of further titles ended for this year when telephone calls on Friday night confirmed that their opponents would not be making the trip to Cannock.
Because neither of them had boxed in an earlier round, no champion was declared.
Poxon was also left without an opponent in the final at short notice but because the 21-year-old from One Nation took victory from her semi-final against Kirstie Bavington a week earlier, she has become the class C 67kg champion.