Chappell digs in for victory

FRONT FOOT: Timaru's Alan Ropata on the attack against Rhys Guscott, of Oamaru, in the Elite Male Novice 75kg section of the South Island Golden Gloves.
FRONT FOOT: Timaru's Alan Ropata on the attack against Rhys Guscott, of Oamaru, in the Elite Male Novice 75kg section of the South Island Golden Gloves.

Sam Chappell was the toast of Timaru boxing on Saturday night when he won the Elite Male Novice 91kg division at the South Island Golden Gloves Championships at the Caroline Bay Hall.

In the afternoon session Chappell strolled into the final with a strong performance against Matt Johnson from Craig's Gym in Dunedin, with Chappell never allowing Johnson to dominate.

Early in the second round he employed a strong left jab, which gave the referee no option but to step in and stop the bout, with the decision being TKO.

In front of a packed house, Chappell lined up in the final against Rhiane Bishop, competing out of the Otago Boxing Academy. Bishop took it to Chappell from the opening bell with Chappell absorbing heavy punishment, and the result looked imminent leading into round two.

What the instructions were from coach John Ensor had spectacular results with Chappell keeping his range and, with the left jab, kept Bishop from crowding his defences, while accumulating the all important points to take out the second round.

With the large parochial local crowd on its feet, Chappell turned on the after burners and stalked Bishop with left, right combinations and finished round three with a flurry of punches.

Timaru's other entrant getting through to the finals was Alan Ropata who in the afternoon session disposed of Oamaru's Rhys Guscott with a strong performance winning by TKO in the third round in the Elite Novice male 75kg division.

In the finals evening session, Ropata lined up against Alex Oliver from the Riverside gym in Christchurch. Ropata was rocked by a solid right Oliver bomb midway through the first round, but to Ropata's credit, he kept out of further trouble in round one.

The home crowd seemed to add fuel on Ropata's fire in round two, and with a left jabs and gloves held higher, took it to Oliver, who at times was left with no option but retreat with Ropata fearlessly advancing in both the second and third rounds.

Ropata's guts and determination was not enough on the day, eventually losing with a unanimous decision but he could walk away saying he left his all in the ring.

The third Timaru boxer on show was Cain Puller competing in the Elite Novice male 64.5kg division against a powerful Morgan Lumsden from Ashburton.

Puller was never allowed to find his rhythm with coach John Ensor making a responsible decision not allowing the bout to continue into the second round.

Timaru Boxing Association president Graham Ellery was upbeat on Timaru's showing. "All three entrants who got to the finals were a credit to our gym singlet. They are all works in progress and it is highly satisfying to see our boxers take the lessons from the past and make the adjustments to be winners in the future at a higher level.

"The most disappointing aspect of the championships was that matchings could not be found for Campbell Marr, Carn Blair, Corbin Gillespie or Joel Hill. All would have been contenders for gold and the crowd was robbed by not seeing them box."

The Timaru Herald