Devenport out to bury farce from 2012 final

Ashley Devenport bids for final glory tomorrow
Ashley Devenport bids for final glory tomorrow
Ivy-Jane Smith is making her mark on the big stage

Heart of Portsmouth boxer closing in on GB dream

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Ashley Devenport returns to the last stage of the ABA Schoolboy Championships tomorrow aiming to bury the farcical events of the 2012 final.

The Stacey ABC ace has completed a repeat performance by making it to the showpiece of the prestigious event in Liverpool for the second year on the bounce.

Devenport found himself embroiled in a row over the colour of his gumshield 12 months ago, which saw him thrown out of the tournament.

The 14-year-old was deemed by the referee to be wearing the outlawed red colour.

Devenport was later reinstated after officials agreed his gumshield was orange, before losing in a rescheduled clash in a bizarre sequence of events.

That drama saw the class three talent lose focus and interest in the noble art. But his motivation and passion for the sport has now returned, leading to his latest final run at 63kg.

The talent’s trainer, Yinka Bello, felt the events of last year had an impact on Devenport.

But Bello believes Devenport has shown progress in his temperament since that took place.

Now School of Kettering’s William McCann stands between him and a national title.

Bello says the strength is in place for his charge to emerge victorious. Now it’s just about marrying that with the conviction he has to win the crown.

Bello said: ‘Ash is on weight and he’s ready to go.

‘He knows what this is about and has been to the final before.

‘This time it will be under different circumstances to when he was last there.

‘Last year was a bit of a farce, really. I think what happened there last year has been on his mind.

‘It’s only since we re-entered him into the championships that he’s got his belief back.

‘He’s looked stronger and confident in every round.

‘The most important thing is he looks a more relaxed boxer.

‘He’s learning and improving all the time.

‘He’s a clever kid and he’s exceptionally strong, but I think it’s important he boxes more.

‘I don’t think he’s fought many stronger than him. Hopefully the strength will make the difference, so it’s just about belief.’

Devenport set up his shot at the title by defeating Pinewood Starr’s Ebbie Smith at the semi-final stage in Portsmouth.

He showed the power he possesses despite stepping up in weight for this year’s competition by stopping his opponent last time out.

Devenport has moved up from 57kg for his title tilt, but McCann has made a huge leap from 52kg for this year’s championships.

Both boxers have taken their power with them, however, with McCann also recording stoppage successes on his run to the final.

Devenport has been hit with a cold in the run-up to tomorrow.

But that hasn’t stopped him travelling to clubs in London, as well as locally, to get him decent sparring.

Bello explained the likes of Finchley ABC in the capital and Heart of Portsmouth and Leigh Park have all been stop-offs in his final preparations.

Devenport has been sparring bigger and older opponents to ensure he’s ready for what he faces tomorrow.

Bello believes he is now ready for his shot at the title.

‘He’s picked up a bit of a cold and we’re trying to get that out of him,’ said Bello.

‘But he’s looking stronger and we’re hopeful he can do it.

‘We’ve been up in London sparring at Finchley and around local boxers at places like Heart of Portsmouth and Leigh Park.

‘I expect his opponent to be strong so we’ve been sparring bigger people.

‘Ash is only 14 but we’ve sparring older people so he doesn’t have it all his own way.

‘That’s how he is going to learn. He’s ready for the final now.’