Bridet seals national glory

Heart of Portsmouth's Greg Bridet, left, beats Declan Fusco to win the ABA final in Sunderland Picture:
Heart of Portsmouth's Greg Bridet, left, beats Declan Fusco to win the ABA final in Sunderland Picture:
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Greg Bridet seized national glory in his moment of truth and promised: Now it’s time for the international stage.

Bridet became Portsmouth’s first ABA winner in 14 years in the final of the championship in Sunderland.

The Heart of Portsmouth (HOP) hero delivered a majority points win over Declan Fusco.

Bridet had to step into the lion’s den in the north east to get the win over south Durham’s England international.

But 22-year-old heavyweight Bridet did that in dramatic fashion over three no-holds-barred rounds.

It represents a breakthrough moment for the Great Britain development squad boxer, who has his sights set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The prestigious win shows how far the classy heavy-hitter has come from the injuries and setbacks which nearly forced him to quit the noble art.

Bridet follows in the footsteps of the likes of Tony Bellew, Leigh Park’s Tony Oakey, Henry Akinwande and Frank Bruno in lifting the heavyweight crown.

And it proved an emotional moment after a controversial final loss 12 months ago.

Now Bridet has his sights set on international success after receiving his latest England call-up after his ABA success.

He will box for his country against Sweden on Saturday, May 11.

Bridet said: ‘This is what it’s all about.

‘I have trained very, very hard for this moment.

‘I have listened to my coaches and know, no matter what, they have the game plans ready.

‘Now that I have won the elite title I am ready to move up.

‘I want to prove myself on the international stage and represent Great Britain all over the world.’

Bridet’s victory is a proud moment for HOP head coach Q Shillingford and his club.

The clash lived up to its status as a national final, with both men exchanging evenly in the opener.

Bridet stepped it up in the second round, however, with the champion switch-hitting and unleashing hurtful hooks and uppercuts.

Fusco was given a warning as he was forced to hold on under the barrage and Bridet gained the initiative.

Bridet’s fitness and class then took over in the final round, with his opponent again warned for holding.

The HOP boxer lived up to promise at the start of the last round that he would take victory when his arm was held aloft.

Shillingford said: ‘It’s a proud moment.

‘Greg boxed superbly. It was a bit like going into the lion’s den but Greg did everything he needed to.

‘He’s had great support from our coach, Colin Williams, who has been a big part of his success.

‘Greg really geared up as the contest went on and landed some really hurtful shots.

‘Greg said before the last round: “I won’t let you down – this is my title”. He was right.

‘It was exciting and emotional because he has been through so much – but there’s so much more to come now.

‘He’s helped put Portsmouth on the boxing map.’