Boxing: Cambridge 9 Oxford 0
If there’s one thing we all enjoy, its blood on the canvas; but I must admit I felt a little uneasy as I saw Oxford’s Kate Newton hospitalised just minutes into the first supporting bout of the 102nd Varsity match, late last Lent term (Kate was visibly seizing just moments after the referee stopped contest in the second round of her fight against Cambridge’s Kirsten Stroud, and was stretchered from the ring by paramedics). She made a full recovery however, and the early brutality turned out to be a fabulous harbinger of what was to come from the main event; 9 bouts of amateur boxing for the ‘Truelove Bowl’. Supporters from both universities who made the long trip to East Billingsgate, London, in the dying embers of last term for the annual fixture were anything but disappointed by the display put on for them.
Irfan Ahmad began the carnival of light-hearted bloodletting; his aggressive style, frantic speed and commendable stamina showcased as he backed his taller opponent, 23-year old Adam Blick into corner after corner, securing the light blues their first victory in a unanimous decision.
Continuing the theme, Lean Marsh consolidated a flamboyant entrance to marching drums with another unanimous three round decision in a thrilling match which bore counts, blood and a standing ovation from the assembled crowd.
Not to be outdone, Captain Will Rees dived into a furious opening round with his opponent, Chris Pearson. Apparently evenly matched at the outset, Will soon took control, delivering volleys of head shots, drawing blood in the second, and earning a count in the third. Yet another unanimous decision left the score at 3 – 0 in Cambridge’s favour.
Trinity Hall’s Rob Chapman took Cambridge undefeated into the interval, making up for his loss in the 101st Varsity match last year in suitable fashion; by dusting off alliteratively named Vincent Vitale in under two rounds.
With experienced light-blue fighters to come, including Eddie Hult – who impressed at the Town v Gown fixture – and Heavyweight Adrian Teare, Oxford looked in trouble.
Chris Webb grasped the opportunity to seal victory in one of the less eventful fights in a night of thrilling contests, defeating light middleweight post grad Cliff Mark in a close bout.
With victory surprisingly easily secured for the light-blue underdogs, thoughts turned now to an Oxford embarrassment as 20-year old Ed Chadwick demonstrated good accurate technique in a 40 second domination of Oxford’s Richard Pickering.
It then fell to dark blue Adam Levine to quell the onslaught. Early in the first round, it appeared Cambridge might dirty their clean sheet of victories, as Jay Thomas looked at first outmatched, stunned by a well delivered blow. The contest soon levelled however, as Thomas took advantage of a momentary drop in the Middleweight’s guard, earning a count. The second round was more cautious, though Levine came out on top. With both athletes realising they had found themselves in an even fight, the final round was frantic and messy, with both athletes putting themselves on the line. In a controversial split decision, Thomas emerged the victor.
With the Oxford supporters visibly subdued, it came down to eagerly anticipated heavy hitters Eddie Hult and Adrian Teare to add insult to injury. Due for a baptism of fire, undergraduate Simon Lowe was next in line, the Varsity Match his boxing debut. Within 20 seconds the result was already decided, as Hult’s antisocial uppercuts reined home, and the match was paused for blood just moments after it had begun. With little reply from Lowe, the referee stopped contest in the second round.
Spectators who had already witnessed fights teetering on the precipice of gladiatorial were treated to another stunning lesson in facial deconstructive surgery as Adrian Teare landed a spectacular haymaker after a brief but brutal exchange, knocking out his opponent and securing a well-deserved nine – nil victory for a deserving Cambridge team.
Daniel Rourke – Sports Editor