OVER 600 people flocked to the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre in Ballymoney on Friday to support Scorpion Amateur Boxing Club’s 30th Anniversary Fight Night with special guest star Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton a big attraction.
The night’s entertainment saw one of the biggest ever crowds at a local fight bill as a County Antrim Select took on an Isle of Man team.
Fantastic new links between Ballymoney and the Manx were forged at the event which was organised by the Scorpion Club alongside Ballymoney Twinning Association.
The whole bill oozed with class from start to finish.
The new European Featherweight Champ Carl Frampton was on hand to lend his support on the night and he did not dissapoint his fans by spending most of the evening signing autographs and getting photos taken.
Harry McGavock, the evening’s MC, got the night under way by telling everyone that he was proud and privileged to be asked to perform on such a special occasion and he himself lived up to his reputation as the best in the business as he captivated the audience from the off.
First up on the evening was the host club’s Keelan Mcallister v John Paul Hale from Ardoyne. Keelan let go with some blistering combinations from his southpaw stance. He moved well in and out of danger using fast footwork but young Hale kept coming and rallied late but it was the Scorpion man who claimed a unanimous decision to kickstart the event.
Kieran Murray was next up for Antrim as he took on a very rangy opponent from the Isle of Man (IoM), Tobias Finch. Young Murray gave his all in a tough contest but it was the bigger Finch who claimed victory.
It was a similar case in the next bout as Caolan McKeown took on Connor Punnington (IoM). Young Punnington just had too much experience for his Antrim man.
Scorpion’s Micheal Coyles took to the ring next and after claiming the boy ‘4 County’ title earlier in the week was well up for his match with Josh Diamond of Skerries and in a very tight affair of technical boxing Diamond just edged it on a majority decision.
Local hero Ryan Wallace took to the ring next against Dillon Killen IoM and he did not dissapoint as he forced the issue from the start and at times he simply was too strong for his man and to the delight of his home crowd he won a unanimous decision.
Two Ulster champions collided in the next bout as Scorpion’s Seamus McAllister took on Churchlands’ Anthony McIvor in an eagerly anticipated rematch which McIvor won two weeks earlier.
McAllister had other ideas and he pressed from the start and boxed with venom in what proved to be a see-saw contest. The fight could have went either way going into the last but Seamus was not going to be denied as he dug in to claim the last round to win a majority decision to the delight of the home fans who were on their feet.
The audience had little time to get their breath back as Antrim’s three time Irish Champion Darren Pollock took on James Devine IoM, the ABA Champion, In another close battle of quality boxing this battle ebbed and flowed but it was Pollock’s right hook that made the difference as he claimed victory.
Antrim’s Gerard McCorley, another Irish Champion, took on Craig Murphy IoM in a belter at 70k with both men trading hard blows but McCorley seemed to get his jab working well and this made the difference. McCorley claimed another Antrim victory.
Next up was Ulster and Irish Champ JP Delaney who took on Eddie Rennie, a Commonwealth Games Youth Gold medallist at middleweight and it was the Antrim man who controlled using his speed of hand and foot to mesmerise Rennie and claim a dominant victory.
The penultimate fight of the night featured two Delhi Commonwealth Games reps, Ballymena’s Stephen Donnelly, Ulster Senior Champion, and Danny Roberts ABA Champion and they did not let anyone down in a contest that could grace a ring anywhere in the world.
These two warriors went at it from start to finish and with the crowd going crazy Donnelly dazzled as he started landing the cleaner shots. Roberts kept pressing but it seemed to play into Stephen’s hands and as the final bell rang and with the arena singing “Donnelly” the Antrim man was awarded victory. The last fight of the night raised the roof of the JDLC as it featured Scorpion’s Karol Dlugosz, the County, Ulster and Irish Senior Novice 85K Champion against Ryan Lybourne from Leeds, the reigning British Senior Novice ABA 85K Champion.
In what proved to be a big punching contest Karol started tentatively as his opponent boxed out of the southpaw stance but he soon found his range working the body well. Lybourne was well schooled though and he used long range tactics to try and keep Karol at bay.
The Scorpion man had a big second round and hurt Lybourne with a couple of big rights and seemed to have won the round. The last round the two combatants went for it and there was nothing to separate them at the finish.
Lybourne claimed a majority decision, probably a slow start in the first costing the home town man victory.
However for the young 18-year-old to be mixing it in this class against a seasoned 25-year-old shows you how good Karol has become in only his 13th contest.
Also on the night, Scorpion cousins Brian and Michael McAllister staged an exhibition bout.
Scorpion would like to thank Ballymoney Twinning Association, Ballymoney Borough Council, Sports Development and Ballymoney Sports Advisory committee and all the staff at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre as well as the Manor Hotel, where the visiting boxers stayed.
Also to all their sponsors - J C Halliday, Shaun Hemphill, Popcorn Factory, Sean Kerr Plumbing, McClafferty Haulage, KBC Construction, Right Price Coleraine, M O’Boyle Decorators, Kennedy Auctions, Alive Surf School and David Martin Jewellers.
The Scorpion Club says that without all these people the night would not have been possible.
And as an indication of how good the night was, Harry McGavock - the MC who has worked far and wide and is well-known in the sport, said on Facebook: ‘Spike Martin & your Scorpions are a credit to the IABA..... Amazing show tonight....Amazing!!!!! Ballymoney fight fans are among the best in the WORLD!!!!!! Again I say....AMAZING!!!!!’
* SEE INSIDE FOR A PAGE OF PHOTOS FROM THE BIG NIGHT.