Albie Higgon returned from his historic trip of a lifetime with victory under his belt and plaudits ringing in his ears.
Victory ABC’s emerging talent was joined by two other promising boxers who travelled to the Philippines.
They took part in a week-long training camp at the renowned ALA Gym in Cebu City, where they were put through their paces in its unique environment.
That was the pre-cursor to an open air show in which the exciting young Higgon chalked up victory as the group became the first amateur boxers from the UK to box in the state.
The ABA Schoolboys finalist picked up a stoppage win over Albaca Gym’s Lester Tejada in Mandaue Plaza on a night to remember.
And Higgon’s classy performance saw him collect the ALA Gym’s best boxer medal.
The 14-year-old showed composure despite boxing in an alien environment where he had to contend with searing heat and flying insects.
Higgon was in enemy territory as he took on Tejada in front of his own supporters.
But he didn’t let that faze him as he landed a head-rocking right-counter early on.
Boxing on the back foot and bemusing his opponent, Higgon landed more and more frequently as the round wore on, with straight punches hitting the mark along with an uppercut at the end of the round.
The onslaught continued into the second round, eventually forcing the referee to step in and crown an impressive victory for Higgon.
His coach, Leigh Medway, was delighted with what he saw from Higgon while on the trip and believes it can be a watershed moment for the classy teenager.
Medway said: ‘It was a tremendous visit and exceeded all expectations.
‘The way Albie rose to the challenges he faced and took it in his stride really was impressive.
‘When he boxed, there were a few extra challenges to take on like flying insects, the heat, the noise from a nearby construction site and boxing a Filipino in front of his own supporters.
‘But Albie was up for it and met everything he faced head on.
‘He is an affable lad but is highly focused and when he boxes his whole body language changes. It was a fine performance.
‘I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say the trip was a landmark occasion.’
Higgon was joined by Southampton’s Ryan Garner and Eastleigh’s Harry Limburn, who both lost out on close majority decisions in their contests.
They all made use of the camp, however, as they mixed in with other young boxers at ALA Gym.
There proved to be one or two surprises for the boxers, though, as they met the gym’s pet crocodile and python as they went about their work.
Medway said: ‘There was a resident crocodile and on the first day of training we were confronted by a python on the gym floor – before it tucked into a live chicken!
‘That was a new experience but everyone mucked into together and we were made to feel so welcome.’
Victory ABC stage a show at the RNA Club in Gosport on November 17 (7.30pm), with Higgon and other boxers from the Stubbington outfit appearing.