Boxers go toe-to-toe as sparring heats up 

HOOKS were thrown, jabs delivered and the occasional shot missed the target at this week’s sparring between state title contenders from the Bendigo Amateur Boxing Club and Hit Factory.

The workouts were another step in the build-up to quarter-finals in the Victorian Amateur Boxing Association’s state championships on November 25 at Brunswick’s Reggio Calabria Club.

In the midweek spars, Blake Broughton – from the California Gully-based BABC where Pat Connolly is trainer – took on Hit Factory 91kg heavyweight Ezra Wright.

Now in his 38th year as a boxing trainer, Pat Connolly is “quietly confident” about Broughton’s chances at the state titles.

“It’s an exciting time for the club,” Connolly said of four teenagers either preparing or having already fought at the state titles.

The most experienced competitor in the squad is Jason Connally, fighting in the senior 69kg division.

The Broughton versus White  contest was followed by Aaron Walshe, from the under-19 69kg class, pitting his skills against Todd Robertson, 64kg division, from the Danniel Burton-trained squad at Hit Factory.

Connolly said his boxers would go “just about anywhere” for sparring and welcomed another hit-out against some of Burton’s team.

“At this gym, every boxer has a different style and approach, and it’s the same at state titles,” he said.

“Being able to adapt is really important, not just from one fight to the next, but also within a contest.”

Day one of the 2012 campaign provided mixed emotions for Connolly and his boxers.

While Boedan Nelson scored an impressive victory, Doug Lee was defeated on points in the under-19 75kg class.

“Although Doug was beaten, I was pleased with how he fought. He will have learnt a lot from the contest and also about his preparation.”

Key themes for all of the Connolly boxers, who are also helped by Pat’s younger brother Gary, are control and workrate.

In the lead-up to what will be his third bout, Walshe said victory or defeat would be decided by what he did inside the ropes.

“No one can affect the match like I can,” said Walshe, whose tally is 1-1. The 17-year-old started training with the Connollys in early 2011.

“I’ve worked a lot on defence, keeping hands up, power, and footwork,” said the year 11 student from Catholic College Bendigo.

Lee is a year 11 student at Bendigo Senior Secondary College and said a key to future success was not being “one-dimensional” in how he fought or prepared.

Broughton’s most recent contest was at Numurkah.

The Bendigo teenager was beaten on points by Adrian Paoletti, who will represent Australia at the world youth titles in Armenia. 

A first-year apprentice diesel mechanic at Andy’s Earthmoving, Broughton endured a gruelling fightback to regain his fitness after being struck by a car.

“I missed about five months’ training, but training the past month has gone really well,” he said soon after Wednesday’s spar. 

“You never know what an opponent will do, so that makes boxing a great challenge.” 

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