Navy put up brave Inter Services fight

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The navy went down fighting in the Inter Services Championships last night.

The army romped to a clear win as they retained their title at HMS Nelson.

The navy's Brad Smith is forced on to the ropes by the army's Jeff Saunders, who claimed victory in their welterweight bout with a majority decision  Picture: Ian Hargreaves

The navy's Brad Smith is forced on to the ropes by the army's Jeff Saunders, who claimed victory in their welterweight bout with a majority decision Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Martin Anthony’s men picked up five wins on the night to go with their six walkovers to keep the noble statuette they’ve held since 1985.

But their margin of success didn’t tell the story of a string of high-quality bouts that could have gone either way.

A host of majority-decision wins for the army were an indication of how close it was in the ring.

That was something for the navy to be proud of against their impressive calibre opposition.

And there was joy for Portsmouth’s Robbie Matthews as he was named boxer of the night after recording the navy’s solitary success

Navy coach Graham Alderson knew his men had effectively lost the team competition before a punch was thrown.

He took pride in the efforts of his boxers, however, against the army’s array of internationals and national champions.

Alderson said: ‘I’m proud of the boys.

‘Every single one of them went out there and wore their heart on their sleeve.

‘There were a lot of majority decisions there, and maybe we might get the rub of the green and they will go our way next time.

‘We entered seven weight categories, so the army had six walkovers straightaway.

‘There is no-one under 60kg in the marines, so that makes it hard.

‘Most of the guys here are up against it.

‘But the boys turn it on here and give it their all.

‘I couldn’t have asked for more from them and the performances they gave the navy.’

Matthews set an impressive pace for the navy with a flying start to his career in the senior service.

He was too good for Ryan Fillingham, at a 60kg weight category he had to work hard to make.

It proved an exciting match-up with both men throwing plenty of leather, but it was Matthews who always had the edge, despite taking a second round count.

The former Heart of Portsmouth man used slick footwork in the final round to get a deserved decision.

Elsewhere, Ricky Rose could count himself unfortunate not to get the verdict against the army’s top-drawer light-welterweight Martin Stead.

Stead has a phenomenal 128 wins from 167 amateur bouts and three ABA titles to his name.

But it was Rose who looked like he’d won their match-up, before the decision went the other way.

Adam Watson continued a memorable night for the RAF after wins for Danny Marsh and James Williams in special bouts, by beating army light-middleweight Tom Barry.

And both Ben Jones and Kyle De Banks showed great resolve in two high-tempo battles. Jones went down with a spirited effort against Trevor Littler, while army heavyweight Chez Nihell unanimously defeated brave De Banks.

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