Talented duo stand on brink of glory

Josh Pritchard, left, on his way to beating last year's Southern Counties champion Rick Leach
Josh Pritchard, left, on his way to beating last year's Southern Counties champion Rick Leach
Danny Couzens. Picture: Natalie Mayhew, Butterfly Boxing

Couzens weighs up future after brave defeat

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Portsmouth’s rising boxing stars today go in search of a place in the ABA Championship finals.

Heart of Portsmouth’s Greg Bridet and Moneyfields’ Josh Pritchard stand on the brink of the last stage of boxing’s most prestigious amateur competition.

The pair both bid to make the finals when they take on top-class opposition in London.

Pritchard faces West Ham’s Lucien Reid at 54kg, while Great Britain development squad member Bridet meets Lynn’s Martin McDonagh at 91kg.

It’s been a flying first campaign at senior level for Pritchard.

The 18-year-old stepped up to senior-open class but has not been overawed by the move to take on hugely-experienced opposition.

The England international showed that when he dumped Isle of Thanet’s reigning Southern Counties champion Rick Leach out of the competition, despite giving away five years in age.

Moneyfields secretary, and Pritchard’s father, Aaron, believes the boxer is primed for the challenge he faces today.

Pritchard has travelled to Finchley ABC in London to ready himself for battle.

His father knows he won’t be fazed by what he faces.

Pritchard said; ‘Josh is ready and waiting to go.

‘He’s facing last year’s semi-finalist, who lost to the eventual winner.

‘But Josh has already beaten last year’s Southern Counties champion and wasn’t expected to do that.

‘He did brilliantly to do that, but Josh has been training well and is confident.

‘His sparring has been with older and more experienced opponents and he’s been doing very well.

‘He has been able to focus on his boxing because his work have been very helpful with him.

‘It’s a semi-final in London against a London boxer, so Josh will have to box at his best.

‘But I’m really confident in his ability and pleased with his attitude.

Pritchard added: ‘He has looked unbelievable in sparring.

‘The other lad is a big, strong kid with a good record – but we are going there to win.

‘He won’t be overawed by the occasion.’

Bridet has a tricky task against a vastly-experienced champion in McDonagh.

But the Heart of Portsmouth ace has already shown his calibre on the way to last year’s final.

That proved to be a disputed decision with many believing Bridet had done enough to take the title.

His coach, Q Shillingford, knows it’s a tough test for his charge – but one he feels Bridet can rise to.

Shillingford said: ‘It’s a tough one for Greg.

‘He’s won titles and has had a lot of bouts, so it won’t be easy.

‘But it’s the sort of contest you expect at the semi-final stage.

‘McDonagh has had 40 or 50 bouts, but Greg won’t be worried about that.

‘He’s taken on opponents of that level before.

‘But we’ll have a game plan for the contest and Greg will be well prepared for it.

‘There hasn’t been any short-cuts for this and he has worked hard.

‘Now it’s about going out and doing the business.’