Youth Championships 2023 preview: The Male Under 60kg hopefuls
February 9, 2023 | by Matt Halfpenny
If you were looking for a way to define ‘stacked’ in the English Dictionary, then listing the boxers who will be vying to win the Under 60kg open category at this weekend’s England Boxing National Youth Championships 2023 wouldn’t be a bad way to go about it.
The seven competitors from across the regions who remain are renowned as performers of high calibre, making picking a victor from them a hugely tough call.
No less than four of their number have won at least one national title at one point or another in their careers to date. Those that haven’t are no less dangerous and come into the Friday-Saturday-Sunday event at the North Solihull Sports Centre in prime form.
Perhaps the most recognisable name of the septet is Jennings Gym’s Thomas Varey, an EUBC Schools European Championships 2019 gold medal winner.
Having moved to the club from Sharpstyle, he is determined to put right a disappointing result before Christmas at the NABCGs Championships.
“Thomas is an exceptional talent,” said Coach David Jennings. “He’s trained hard and he’s up for this.”
“He came up short in the NABGCs, but he knows where he went wrong there and he is looking to put it right.
“He’s won the nationals before and he’s used to the occasion and he’s a very laid back character who takes things in his stride.
“His focus is for this weekend, but I know he has the goal of winning this and going to the Europeans. To be a two-time European champion would be quite something.
“He is one of five going down from our gym, so hopefully we are going to get one or two winners. They are all working so hard, so hopefully they can reap the rewards.”
Facing Varey for a semi-final place in a North-West v Merseyside and Cheshire showdown will be Mikey Evans.
The Rotunda boxer, who started out at Kirkby, has been something of a nearly-man on the biggest domestic stage, but is hoping to put that right over the coming days
Coach Stephen Jennings said: “He’s one of four lads who’s in this and he’s had a really good training camp – he just wants to get out there and box now.
“He’s been a touch unlucky not to quite win a title. He’s been to the semis where he lost in the Juniors to Billy Copper and then again to the same opponent in the Youth Cadets final last year, although that bout was much closer.
“He’s moved up a weight now and it will be an interesting quarters bout against Thomas Varey, because he is a very good kid.
“But Mikey has lots of experience now too with close to, or even past, 50 bouts so he knows the score.
“This is his last chance to win before Senior level, but they are all good boxers when you get to this stage, so we will see how it goes.”
Self-employed painter and decorator Theodore Mineiro, from Western Counties’ Yeovil ABC, is hoping that he can do his family proud, coming from a long line of successful boxers.
His dad’s side hail from Brazil, where successive generations of his family have been celebrated national champions, while relatives of his mum have also triumphed on the national stage.
“Theodore has been with us since he was six years old, and I have seen him come on in leaps and bounds during that time,” said coach Dean Trott.
“He’s not so small anymore, but we still affectionately call him ‘wee man’ and it’s nice to see the way he’s come into his own.
“He’s really buzzing for this and he has won three out of his last four, so he’s in decent form. I don’t think his overall record shows how good he is.
“He’s had some great sparring It would mean everything for him to go all the way.”
Barring Miniero’s place to the semi-final is Hamilton Joyce from Camp Detox, a club based in Pudsey between Leeds and Bradford.
As a two-time national champion and a GB Three Nations competitor, he is keen to underline his class with a strong showing in the Midlands.
Coach Danny Thornton said: “Hamilton’s had a great prep camp and has boxed well on both occasions he’s had bouts to get to this stage.
“He won a close bout against Thomas Varey in the NABGCs, so that has given him confidence and he’s looking forward to the weekend.
“He doesn’t know too much about his opponent, but it’s a very competitive division with lots of quality – probably one of the best in the championships.
“It should be good to watch for the neutrals because there are lots of 50-50 bouts and it could be any of them who win it come Sunday.”
James Harris-Khan is one of several promising boxers to emerge in recent times from the East London Boxing Academy (ELBA), based in the capital’s Leyton.
He travels north keen to take the step up to national level in his stride.
James has been doing well and sparring an NABGCs winner in preparation, and now he knows what he needs to do this weekend,” said coach Umer Iqbal.
“He’s like a caged tiger – ready to go – because he surprisingly didn’t have a bout in the London region after some pull-outs.
“He’s always had the power, but now he has the skills to set it up as well, so we are excited about his future.
“He lost to Harvey Orriss on a 3-2 split in the Developments (2021), but he was quite fresh to the sport then and he is much-improved now.
“James hasn’t got the experience in terms of bouts of some of the others in his category, but he has been training against with people who have had 40 or 50 bouts and been holding his own.”
In a re-match against Harris-Khan, Guildford City’s Harvey Orriss is well aware that he will have to be at the top of his game to prevail.
The Southern Counties boxer won through his region with a unanimous victory and now coach Ben Harmsworth is relishing his charge showcasing his skills at what he feels is one of the best domestic competitions on offer.
He said: “I’ve always thoughts the Youths is a great tournament because it’s such a high standard where boxers have built up the experience but you haven’t lost some of them who have gone pro, got on GB or given it up.
“They all still have big aspirations and are looking to the future – and that’s the case with Harvey.
“He won the Developments in 2021 and was named boxer of the tournament for his age category.
“He hasn’t boxed for England yet, but he is desperate for it. In fact, he is probably the most focused boxer I have worked with in 20 years. His whole life is dedicated to it and he is very fit.
“He’s beaten his quarters opponent before, but he won’t be taking anything for granted at all.
“All the lads who are boxing in this Under 60kg are very good… it’s about who can keep it together and cope with the pressure over the three days.
Completing the quarter-final line-up is another national title winner in Tyne, Tees and Wear’s Aaron Bird, who has beaten boxers from Sunderland East End and Natural Progression to progress from his region.
The boxer from Sunderland-based Olympian is keen to push his cause for further international honours with a strong showing this weekend.
“Aaron’s absolutely flying at the minute,” said coach Allan Topping. “He won 4-1 in his regional semi and then was a unanimous winner in the final before getting a pre quarters bye.
“He won the Schools and Junior Cadet Nationals and loved pulling on the England vest in the Three Nations – and that’s something he would love to do again.
“Aaron’s big strength from when we started working with him has always been his jab and his movement – and that is still the case.
“He absolutely lives for boxing and this means so much to him, but it’s a really good category with some really talented kids, so it’s going to be tough for anyone to win.”
Bird will benefit from a bye through to the semi-finals after his prospective opponent, Chalvedon’s Shay Barry was pulled out.