England Boxing National Amateur Championships 2019 – Amaar Akbar v Sam Noakes preview
April 12, 2019 | by Matt Halfpenny
There will be a new winner of the Male Under 64kg division of the England Boxing National Amateur Championships this year – but opinions on who will end victorious contrasts markedly depending on which of the two contending boxers you ask.
Neither Warrior Breed’s Amaar Akbar nor Westree’s Sam Noakes are short on confidence ahead of a classic north v south clash held on neutral ground at Manchester Central.
Nor should they be. Both men showcased their skills in fine style during last weekend’s pre quarter-finals, quarter-finals and semi-finals in Nottingham, where those with title aspirations were whittled down to just two.
The truth is that either of them will be a worthy successor to last year’s winner Dalton Smith of Sheffield City, who beat Birtley’s Isaacs Milburn at York Hall in London.
Akbar has progressed to Finals Day the hard way, beating Chris Sumner of Amalgamated in the pre quarter-finals, the aforementioned Isaacs in the quarter-final and Bayan Khalil of Roy Richardson’s in the semi-final.
The Dewsbury boxer has done so in what is his first year since stepping up from Youth level, and he is still aged just 18.
“It’s the first time I’ve boxed three, three-minute rounds like that three days in a row, so hopefully I’m going to be a lot sharper in Manchester than I was on my last day in Nottingham.
“I’ve only had 30 bouts and been boxing four years. I won two national titles in my first two years and also Yorkshire titles, but then I had a tough time of it as a Youth and even though I knew I could win things, it didn’t quite work out that way.
“This year things have come right. I think the headguards coming off as a senior has helped me because you can see more shots coming.”
Akbar trains in his dad’s gym and has dabbled in other combat sports, including mixed martial arts.
He is hoping a travelling army of supporters can help get him over the line.
“It was when I got to about 11 or 12 I started to love the boxing and I’ve loved it ever since, although I was about 14 when I started to take it seriously.
“Four years on from then, to go on and win it now, would be amazing, but I know I am capable of it.
“Come Saturday there is going to be a massive following coming over the Pennines from Yorkshire. I hope I can do it for them.”
Waiting for Akbar in the opposite corner will be Southern Counties boxer Noakes, who beat Owen Gidman of Bletchley by an RSC and then did the same to semi-final opponent Bradley Bethell of Leicester Unity.
The 21-year-old says his bout at 5pm – the final one before the interval, with 20 bouts (11 male and nine female) being contested in all – can’t come soon enough.
“It’s gone alright for me so far, helped by the couple of stoppages I’ve had in the quarters and then the semi-finals of the national stages.
“To get this far in the senior national competition has to be my biggest achievement in boxing. I have won the NABCs twice, but that’s not quite on this level.
Everyone wants to win this title – that is why we are all in boxing – and hopefully I can get the job done at the weekend.
“I don’t really know too much about my opponent, but I watched him a little bit in one of his bouts in Nottingham and he looks a decent boxer to me.
“He has come through three tough buts in the pre quarters, quarters and semis, but you know whoever you get at this stage is not going to be easy opponent.
“I think it is going to come down to who boxes better on the way. It’s going to be a great day out and I can’t wait!
Noakes believes his power – as highlighted by his stoppages – and his fitness are his key strengths.
He knows that a win this weekend would give him family bragging rights over his sibling.
Noakes said: “I was 13 when I started. I could be a little bit of a nuisance when I was younger, so my mum sent me to boxing with my older brother.
“I didn’t want to go at first, but I soon took a liking to it. My brother, Sean, is a couple of years older than me and is still boxing and he is not bad either, winning a title belt.
“But if I were to win the nationals, I think that would top anything that either of has won before.”
You can buy tickets to watch the action on the day, with doors open from 1pm.