Big Win For Forces Boxers Over England Internationals

UK Armed Forces boxers have secured a notable win over England at a sell-out Christmas event featuring some top amateurs...

UK Armed Forces boxers have secured a notable win over England at a sell-out Christmas event featuring some top amateurs.

Military boxers from the Royal Navy and Army were involved in some high-quality matchups against internationals and each other in Hereford.

The event took place at the city's sixth form college - a rich hunting ground for forces boxers over the years.

First up was the only women's clash of the night, a bantamweight encounter which saw England's Emma Dolan in the red corner against Gunner Karris Artingstall, one of several top Army boxers.

England vs military boxers, 2017

The gunner was always the most positive in round one, but at the end of the round, the England international had to concede the fight after aggravating a shoulder injury - not the way either boxer wanted it to end.

Two of the other main bouts on the card were Army v Navy clashes after a pair of England fighters had to withdraw.

The men's bantamweight tussle was between the Navy's Raheen Ali and the Army's Brad Healey. It produced an excellent contest, with both men giving it their all.

There was hardly anything separating the two men after a trio of three-minute rounds, but it was Rfn Heely who just nailed it on a split decision. He said:

"I'm really happy with the win but I've got to show my respect to Raheen, he boxed really well."

The other all-forces encounter was between Marine Dom Stephenson, of 45 Commando and Rfn Callum Hill, at middleweight.

This was also a terrific battle, much appreciated by the Hereford audience.

Both men exchanged plenty of scoring punches in the three rounds, but this time it was the man representing the Navy who came out on top, again by a split decision from the judges.

Don't miss all the action in our hour-long extended highlights programme on Forces TV. We'll be showing it at 9pm UK time on Saturday December 23, with repeats at 1am and 9pm on Wednesday December 27 - Sky 264, Virgin 277, Freesat 165, Freeview 96 & Youview 96.

Both men were full of respect for each other and we may well see this matchup replayed at next year's Inter-Services.

One of the most eagerly-anticipated bouts of the night was at light welterweight, however.

Elliot Whale of England was up against the Army's Lance Corporal Ben Rees Davies, representing UKAF. The contest didn't disappoint as both men were on top of their game.

But the England boxer was just a little too good. He ultimately ended up as Boxer of the Night, winning by a unanimous points verdict from the judges. He said:

"It was a hard fight. Army boys always put the pressure on. They're fit, they're strong."

LCpl Rees-Davies said: "It was hard to get into my rhythm tonight... That's why I thought I lost it.

"Elliot was more in his rhythm. He was catching nice shots."

The welterweight matchup was just as good. Alex Bishop of England met Fusilier Sean Eng, sporting UKAF blue.

England vs military boxers, 2017

This was a brutal affair, with Bishop cutting his opponent over the left eye in the second round.

After some patching up, Fus Eng realised he needed to change his tactics - and they worked. Despite taking punishment, he kept on probing and prodding with some great scoring punches, which was enough to impress the judges.

And he got the nod with a unanimous decision. Fus Eng said:

"I'm buzzing to get the win. Over the moon."

His victory ensured a win on the night for the UKAF team, which the England selectors will have taken note of.

It certainly impressed BBC boxing commentator Ronald Macintosh. He said:

"The atmosphere was electric throughout the evening. All of the boxers [were] so fit, so committed. 

"[There were] nip-and-tuck contests throughout and 50-50 bouts. That's what makes the sport so compelling and attractive.

"I think [the] Armed Forces [boxers] will be very proud of the results that they've achieved tonight... after a series of competitive and strong performances."

More: Defence Secretary Praises Troops Deployed Over Christmas Period