Schools Euros 2022: 11 boxers through to Finals Day for Team England

August 18, 2022 | by Matt Halfpenny


Team England will feature 11 boxers in the EUBC Schools European Championships 2022 finals after an exciting and long day of semi-finals in Erzurum, Turkey.

No less than 15 boxers took to the ring to compete hoping to join Leah Paylor and Tobias Taylor in contesting gold.

Nine of those pulling on the Three Lions vest progressed, while six more had to settle for bronze medals as part of a record-breaking haul of 18 medals from these Championships.

It was a fantastic start to the morning session for the Three Lions as they won two final places in their first two bouts.

First North Star’s Layla Straughan (pictured above), at Under 40kg, defeated home hope Nisa Gursoy in a topsy-turvy affair.

The North East boxer won the first round unanimously, but lost the second 4-1, leaving things in the balance.

But Straughan left nothing to chance and produced a big last round to win it across the board and clinch an overall 5-0 success, much to her obvious delight when the decision was read out, as she jumped for joy.

Serena Mali (pictured top) took the early initiative in her Under 42kg bout against Ukraine’s Sofia Liahotska and never relinquished it.

The Cleary’s boxer won all three rounds on all five judges’ scorecards as she went marching through to the final in style.

The two Rubys, Ruby Cuthbertson and Ruby Took, however, did not get the decisions they were hoping for, despite putting in accomplished performances in their respective bouts.

Under 46kg boxer Cuthbertson, of District Youth, took on Ukranian Uliana Ovsepian and landed some excellent shots only to drop a 4-1 split decision.

Crowle’s Took could barely be separated from Turkey’s Eda Ilhan in a bout that could have gone either way, but it was the home nation boxer who went through on a 3-2 split.

The Three Lions were back to winning ways in their next semi-final as Legions’ Rosanna Bycroft clocked up her third win of the tournament.

The Under 51kg boxer ran out a comfortable unanimous victor against Oliwia Wasiakowska of Poland, winning by a 30-27 margin on all but one of the judges’ scorecards.

Phil Thomas’ Rihanna Holden was next to go for England at Under 57kg where she pushed her more experienced Turkish opponent, Busenur Yazan, all the way, despite a unanimous defeat.

Boxing in only her sixth bout ‘a year young’, she kept going right through to the final bell and will be keen to come back next year at the same level and turn her bronze into gold.

The final girls’ bout brought English success as Wodensborough’s Lexie Walker (pictured above) impressed in her unanimous win over Croatia’s Agata Stajcer at Under 60kg.

On one judge’s scorecard she won every round 10-8 and all five judges awarded that score in the final round, reflecting her dominance.

As the evening session got underway, it was the boys’ turn to bid for a final place and Repton’s Harry Scadeng  (pictured below) got things off to a great start for the Three Lions.

He showed great footwork and hand speed at Under 40kg to defeat Romanian Fleseriu Alexandru by a unanimous margin.

But there was agony for club-mate George Francis, boxing at Under 42kg, as he dropped a tight 3-2 split to Greece’s Konstanioudis Nearchos-Petros.

In the first two rounds, the same three judges preferred Petros’ work and the same two Francis’, meaning that barring a points deduction or stoppage the London region boxer’s fate was sealed, although he never gave up in the final round.

George Ralph was next to go, but he suffered the same 3-2 split defeat fate in taking on Subhan Babayev of Azerbaijan.

In the Rainham boxer’s case, the deduction of a point by the referee proved crucial in the final outcome in the Under 44kg bout.

England’s 11th bout of the day saw Noah Barney-Smith (pictured above) put in a classy performance in beating Valdimir Davidov of Bulgaria unanimously.

The Camberley Under 48kg contender used excellent lateral movement to stay out of trouble and find the angles to land his scoring shots.

An eighth England finalist came in the shape of Under 52kg boxer Tom Connors (pictured below), who put in a composed display to see off another Bulgarian, Dzhan Ahmedov.

The Synwell youngster won all three rounds on all three judges’ scorecards and rarely looked in trouble.

Two more victories were secured by Three Lions boxers in quick succession as first Isaac Huczmann (pictured below) continued his smooth progress by unanimously beating Patryk Dudek at Under 54kg.

The Leicester Lightning boxer’s strong jab proved to be a real weapon that teed up his other punches, as he made it double figures in terms of England finalists.

John Boy Hodgkins was the 11th as he had too much power for Serbian Vasilije Djudjevic (Serbia) at Under 57kg.

Having already taken the first round in confident fashion, the referee then stepped in to end the contest early in the Mikey’s boxer’s favour in the second round.

Johnny Crittenden was hoping to make it a round dozen winning through to the finals, but he was beaten 5-0 in his semi-final by Ukranian Demeter Fedir.

The Pinewood youngster, boxing at Under 63kg, gave it everything and, after he was deducted a point, he was unable to find the answers in order to progress.

There is a rest day for all boxers tomorrow, with all finals taking place on Saturday.