Local favourites to make their return
THE return of high-profile names such as James Woolnough and Gage Baker guarantees plenty of ring know-how in Saturday’s Oktober Slugfest at Beau Sejour.
There are 22 bouts on the bill as Guernsey take on a UK Select team made up of boxers from the Army, Royal Air Force, Cambridge, London, Kent and Hertfordshire in the first home show of the season.
‘The Guernsey team is probably the strongest and most experienced we have put out in recent years,’ said Ben Duff.
‘We have seven elite level boxers on the bill – Billy Le Poullain, Chris Sumner, Mason Samle, Tomasz Kot, Casey de la Mare, Gage and Wooly – which is very promising, and it would be good to keep these nucleus of boxers together throughout the season, as together they will bring the best out in each other and provide competitive in-house sparring.
‘The team is in a very good place at the moment, training has gone really well and there is a positive and competitive atmosphere in the gym.’
Commonwealth Games boxer Le Poullain is in ‘excellent shape’ according to Duff and looking more focused and hungry than he has done in while.
‘His preparation for this bout has been very professional and exemplary and he’s in a good place going into this bout.
‘He’s boxing a decent lad from West Ham ABC and I’m expecting this to be a very close, good bout.
‘The West Ham boxers are all very well schooled and Billy will have to bring his A game to earn a win.’
Light-welterweight Sumner is up against very experienced RAF opponent James Thompson.
‘Chris had a great season last year, winning the light-welterweight Western Counties title and proceeding to the national elite pre-quarters, where he narrowly lost to a lad who went on to reach the final.
‘Chris is hoping to build on last year’s success, keep progressing and see if he can better last year’s performances.
‘This has given Chris motivation and self-belief and the progress is evident to see in training. He is definitely one to look out for this season.’
Since making the decision to box competitively again, Woolnough has given 100% in training, according to his coach.
He will be up against Army boxer Nick Thomson.
‘Wooly looks like he’s enjoying the training again and maybe the two-year break was what he needed to move forward and rediscover his passion for the sport,’ said Duff.
‘I’m not sure if Wooly is intending to carry on after this show, or whether this is one final bout.
‘I guess how he performs and feels after the bout will determine his boxing future, but from what we have seen he’s looking sharp, strong and very determined.’
Meanwhile, Baker will face RAF opponent Nathan Hall at middleweight.
‘Gage’s commitment and application in training has been excellent,’ Duff said.
‘The desire and motivation seems to be there, the talent has always been there and now it’s a case of taking what he’s doing in training into the ring.’