Proud HOP pair make national final

From left: Trainer Colin Williams, Robbie Matthews, Greg Bridet and HOP boss Q Shillingford
From left: Trainer Colin Williams, Robbie Matthews, Greg Bridet and HOP boss Q Shillingford
Ivy-Jane Smith. Picture: England Boxing

Heart star will be ready for anything

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Heart of Portsmouth will fly the flag for the area at the senior ABA finals.

The city club will proudly send two boxers into the flagship event of the British amateur boxing world.

That’s after both Robbie Matthews and Greg Bridet romped to semi-final success over the Eastern Counties in Sudbury.

Matthews overcame Chadwell St Mary’s Kieran Redding to book his final slot against Wellington ABC’s Josh Leather.

That means the HOP captain has bettered his semi-final appearance of last year as he impressed with a 25-15 points victory.

And that was followed up with a thumping 41-19 win for Bridet as he cruised to a points verdict over Southend’s rough-and-ready Gary Daley.

Matthews’ clash with Redding delivered an even opening, before the HOP man stepped on the gas at 60kg.

A tactical switch saw Matthews open up an advantage, with the third round seeing both boxers giving all they had on offer.

It was Matthews’ short hooks and uppercuts which did the damage, though, and ensured his place in the final.

A storming second round paved the way for Bridet to earn himself a trip to the home of British boxing – York Hall in Bethnal Green – for the last stage.

Bridet ended the first round of his 91kg meeting 9-7 up, before opening a whopping 30-11 lead by the end of the second.

Daley stormed forward in the third but Bridet’s defence held firm before he countered with hooks and uppercuts fired in from a succession of different angles.

That means both advance to the showpiece final in London on April 13, with Bridet up against Simon Barclay (Corby ABC).

Their performances and commitment to making the finals has been lauded by HOP boss Q Shillingford.

He said: ‘These two athletes have stepped up another level at their chosen sport.

‘What they both did was prove that hard work, commitment, dedication and self-belief will prevail.

‘HOP and the city are very, very proud of the great sportsmanship and character of these two fine athletes.

‘You could not meet two more well-mannered gentlemen.

‘They are great role models for the young people of the city, county and region.

‘They give their all to achieve their goals.’

As well as the prestige of making the final and going for an ABA title, both Bridet and Matthews are now also a single step away from getting the chance to take on a member of the Great Britain Olympic team.

That meeting with their weight counterpart for the London Games is earmarked for May.

Shillingford knows the pair will give their all when the final arrives as well as putting in the work in the build-up to the final.

He said: ‘This is a great achievement by the boys and also a great opportunity for them.’