Tom’s just champion in Junior ABAs

On the march: Heart of Portsmouth's Tom Johnson
On the march: Heart of Portsmouth's Tom Johnson
Joel McIntyre.  Picture: Neil Marshall

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Tom Johnson led the way as the Junior ABA charge began for the area’s top young talent.

The Heart of Portsmouth (HOP) ace became a Southern Counties champion in the opening round of the prestigious national competition.

And he was joined by the likes of Victory ABC’s Albie Higgon as a winner in the regional heat in Camberley.

Fast-developing Johnson grabbed his success over Battlebridge’s Jake Graham at 70kg in class four.

A tough battle saw Johnson jabbing well and proving too strong for his rival in just his 11th bout.

And it was a similar story for Jack Featherstone at 54kg in class four as he overcame hard-hitting Golden Ring boxer Mackenzie Walker.

The highly-anticipated match-up saw both boxers set a frenetic pace, with Featherstone’s hand speed and footwork catching the eye.

Walker came back well, though, landing some strong blows before Featherstone’s ring craft took over in the final round.

Featherstone will have to come through another contest to pick up his Southern Counties title, however.

He takes on Westree’s Sam Noakes on Sunday and will be joined by team-mate, and NABC champion, Mateusz Ziolkowski.

Ziolkowski (class six, 75kg) tackles Golden Ring’s own national champ in Louie Edmundson in what is set to be an exciting local showdown with the Southampton boxer.

It will be a similar story as Ben Bendle (class five, 75kg) meets Golden Ring’s Ernest Rutherford.

HOP boss Q Shillingford heaped praise on Johnson and his progress as the competition got under way.

Shillingford said: ‘For Tom to get the title in his 11th bout is a great effort.

‘He works hard in the gym and is in there every day improving himself.

‘He has the heart of lion and has taken his first steps in reaching the next level.

‘Tom is sparring a national champion and an England boxer in training all the time and that has played a big part in accelerating his development.

‘Jack is in great shape and proved his form. He was relentless and stuck to the game plan.

‘He has a tough contest now but has the guts and skills to do it.

‘Ben and Mateusz are looking strong and both have big derbies with Southampton boxers.

‘Everyone will be looking forward to those.’

Higgon impressed as he opened his campaign against Ockley’s Billy Castle with a points win.

The national schoolboys finalist now has a mouth-watering test against another national finalist in Guildford’s Tommy Lee at 60kg in class four.

Higgon’s trainer, Lee Medway, said: ‘What I liked about his performance was that every now and then Albie changed tactic – becoming the aggressor – to keep Castle guessing.’

Tomorrow sees the southern counties round of the Junior Novice Championships come to Portsmouth.

The likes of Copnor, Victory, Team Wiseman, Gosport and Ted Harris Boxing Academy will all feature, along with host club HOP.

Charter Sports Centre stages the event, with the boxing getting underway from 12.15pm.