HOP boxers prove they Khan do it

Gloves are off as HMS Sultan engineers sting like a bee

Heart of Portsmouth heaped more boxing glory on the area as they stormed to victory at the Network Rail Boxing Tournament.

A squad of eight travelled to Bolton where they took part in the event at world champion Amir Khan's gym.

The team got to meet the WBA light-welterweight king, who was bowled over by their quality and conduct.

Their showings bode well for the season ahead as they fared impressively against some of the best young amateur talent in the business.

Elias Cole, Jack Featherstone, Sid Williams and Josh Pritchard were all winners.

And Lucas Ballingall and CYP finalist Kieran Rodden could both be immensely proud of their displays in narrow defeats.

Cole took on Gloves ABC opponent Nadeem Shah and grabbed victory in a competitive bout, using fast hands and accurate punches.

It was the same story for Featherstone in a tough battle with Scottish fighter James Aitchison.

Featherstone stepped up the pace in the third to get a unanimous verdict – his third HOP win.

Williams proved to be far too skilful for another Scot in Chris Bradley.

Bradley looked to apply pressure, but Williams was much the sharper fighter and used range and deft hands to pick up a unanimous win.

England international and team captain Josh Pritchard kept the wins coming for his side against Gloves Bolton rival Lee Mitchell.

Mitchell had the home support with him, but Pritchard used pinpoint shots and smart footwork to take a majority success.

Ballingall came up against a mightily tough rival in Red Triangle's England international Scott Rankin.

Rankin is undefeated in 19 contests but Ballingall so nearly inflicted a first loss on him, eventually losing a blistering battle by a single point.

And Rodden agreed to move up a weight and take on a tough opponent to get some action under his belt. He took on North Side's Mike Armstrong in an all-action battle, with the HOP talent losing a split decision.

Michael Ballingall and Jesse Douglas ended up without opponents, but both played big roles in the day for HOP as they gained the plaudits.

HOP could be immensely proud of their performances with the club picking up many admirers – including Khan.

Shillingford said: 'We're getting it right in the gym. HOP boxers are fit, strong and well prepared.

'They wasted very little and when they did punch they scored.

'London and the north west have some of the best boxers in the country.

'The boys who lost could have easily got the decisions.

'Amir watched all the boxing and was impressed with the boys.

'He took time to speak to them and offer advice. He's a credit to amateur boxing.

'We have also offered to stage the competition next year and bring more big events to Portsmouth.'