YOUNGSTERS Ainsley Hughes and Harry Robinson are one step away from national titles at the England Boxing Junior Development Championships.
Team Wiseman starlet Hughes stormed to a spot in today’s final of the competition in Rotherham with a string of impressive showings.
Meanwhile, Robinson, who comes from the Cowplain Boxing Academy, progressed after a series of byes and will go head-to-head with Sheffield Lane Top’s Abdull Saeed at 48-50kg.
The 16-year-old will be undaunted by his route to the final, though, with titles at Hampshire and Southern level standing him in good stead.
Victory last time out over Billericay’s Joe Gonelle at 54kg in Class B earned Hughes, also 16, his appearance in today’s showdowns.
He racked up a unanimous success in Eastbourne using a good move of skills and strength to build a lead in the first two rounds.
He then boxed to instruction in the third, staying out of trouble to pick up a unanimous verdict.
That win came after success over Heart of Portsmouth’s Robbie Patterson earlier in the competition and an opening-stage victory in Kent.
Now he will face Hull Saints’ highly-regarded Mustafa Afzali for the national title at the Magna Centre.
And coach Daron Wiseman believes his progress this year shows he has what it takes to go all the way.
Wiseman said: ‘Ainsley has come on so well and boxed brilliantly to get to the finals.
‘His ability has come on and he isn’t just about brute force any more.
‘He didn’t run into shots and outskilled his opponent.
‘The other boy came on strong but we told him to move as he’d done enough by then.
‘He was a well-schooled opponent but Ainsley definitely deserved the win.
‘That was after two good unanimous wins in previous rounds.
‘He has a tough boy in the final and he looks a strong kid.
‘But Ainsley can use his skills to come out on top.’
Hughes has progressed quickly since linking up with Team Wiseman a little over a year ago.
The coach feels the Leigh Park boxer’s attitude to improving himself is behind the strides he’s made.
And that has led him to his final opportunity.
‘He’s been with us for just over a year and is coming on brilliantly,’ said Wiseman.
‘He’s so keen, we have to tell him to stay out of the gym.
‘He turned up in the gym on Sunday on his birthday after boxing on Saturday in the semis. He’s really keen.
‘He’s not interested in going out with his mates and getting into trouble.
‘Ainsley trains and sits in and plays on his X-Box.
‘He also has good support from his parents which is a big help.
‘He was just a strong kid relying on brute force, but now his skills has improved so much.
‘When he trains it’s like programming a robot.
‘He listens to everything you say and doesn’t miss a thing.’
Robinson is trained by Courtney Capstick at Cowplain Boxing Academy.
Many of the talented teenager’s family and friends have travelled to South Yorkshire to cheer him on.
And mum Melissa claimed it’s a moment he’s been focusing on all his life.
‘It’s his first ever national final. Harry’s been training for this all his life,’ she said.
‘He’s going up there to win it!’