Mitchell Barton v Courtney Bennett

England Boxing National Amateur Championships 2019 – day two quarter-final report

April 6, 2019 | by Matt Halfpenny


Mitchell Barton pulled off one of the shocks of England Boxing National Amateur Championships 2019 quarter-finals day as he came back from the brink to beat number one seed Courtney Bennett in sensational style in front of a live BBC Sport audience.

With the cameras rolling at Harvey Hadden in Nottingham, the Scot – who boxes for York-based club Henry’s – twice came through standing eight counts and looked almost down and out as he went into the last round of his Male Over 91kg contest.

But the man who has been to World and Commonwealth Youth Games with his home nation somehow found the strength to stun Churchills’ Bennett twice, forcing two standing counts himself in the closing stages, as he finished with a flourish.

That was enough to earn a split decision from the judges, meaning he avenged a defeat to the same opponent – a finalist in this competition last year – in last year’s GB Finals held in Sheffield.

“I’m absolutely buzzing with that after he beat me previously,” said Barton. “It was a close bout again, but this time it went in my favour.

“I’ve been in the wars with a tough bout against Tom Welch yesterday as well, but the doctor has given me the OK to go again tomorrow.”

Bennett was not the only top seed to suffer disappointment as GB’s Thomas Hodgson, representing Birtley, also crashed out at the hands of Masood Abdulah.

The Islington boxer impressed in his opening pre quarter-final and again delivered to beat the reigning champion in the Male Under 60kg division on a split decision.

He said: “I took the bout to him and won, so I’m very happy with how it turned out.

“I like to be the underdog but he wanted to scrap, which suited me because I’m used to that. It felt like I was getting the better of the exchanges, and I was also picking him off with the jab on the outside as well.”

Another former champion and seed bit the dust in the Male Under 81kg category, where Ben Rees of Birtley was beaten by Olympic Youth champion Karol Itauma.

The St Mary’s boxer secured a unanimous victory as he boxed intelligently, underlining his credentials to go all the way to the title in his first year as a senior.

But Rees’ Birtley team-mate, Mark Dickinson, faired considerably better in what was a tricky bout against a strong opponent in Bradley Goldsmith of Triumph.

The GB Boxer and number one seed, a Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal winner in 2017, came through with a split victory at Male Under 75kg.

“I feel good to come through that,” he said. “I felt I landed the better shots in all three rounds. I took a couple of counters, but nothing too bad.

“I’ve sparred with him a couple of times before, but once I went in the ring I just tried to box in my own style.”

The bouts in the female draw proved to be equally intriguing, with Jade Pearce of Wellington securing an emotional win against Angelica Finch of Boston Town.

After clinching her win on a split decision in the Female Under 57kg division, she said: “I lost a relative three days before this Championships, so it meant a lot to win.

“It was nice to move on from where I got to last year in the Nationals, when I went out in the quarters. I feel like I under-performed a little, so there are things I can work on for the semi-final.”

Islington’s Jem Campbell, meanwhile, was delighted to win her Under 69kg division contest against former GB boxer Omarah Taylor of Firewalker.

She said: “I boxed her last year in this Championships and lost so I was determined to try to turn the tables this time.

“I just tried to use my height advantage and keep her at range. I’ve been working hard for the last six months and made improvements, which I knew I would have to do to win.”

Pictures by Andy Chubb.