Bizarre judges’ decision ends Islington boxer’s dreams of national title

Jeff Ofori

Jeff Ofori - Credit: Archant

Islington BC have lodged a formal appeal after Jeff Ofori’s national novice championship hopes were shattered by an astonishing judges’ decision.

Ofori appeared to be well ahead on points when the final bell sounded in his national Class A Under-63.5kg quarter-final against Weston-super-Mare BC’s Lewis Hunt on Sunday.

But incredibly, three of the five judges at Bristol’s Redwood Hotel and Country Club awarded the contest to Hunt, who had taken THREE standing eight counts, leaving the Islington contingent stunned.

Islington coach Bevis Allen confirmed on Monday that the club had sent a written appeal, along with video evidence, to the ABA – but admitted to being far from confident that the decision would be overturned.

In the opening round, Hunt appeared to land the sharper and more eye-catching punches, but the Islington man – who was crowned London champion last month – took control in the second.

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A series of quickfire combinations visibly moved Hunt all around the ring before a ‘borderline’ punch from Ofori resulted in both a caution from the referee and a count for the West Country boxer.

Hunt found himself in desperate trouble during a one-sided final session, taking two further counts after sustained barrages from his opponent, yet somehow Ofori’s arm remained down when the verdict was announced.

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There was far better fortune last weekend for the 12-strong Islington BC squad who crossed the Irish Sea to face Olympic BC, Galway, and came home with a hard-fought 7-5 victory.

Gerard McDonagh got the Hazellville Road club off to a winning start in only his second bout, triumphing by unanimous decision over namesake John McDonagh.

The experienced Christy McCarthy had to work for a unanimous decision against Martin Corcoran before Tommy Kerrigan – back in the ring for the first time since February – put Islington 3-0 up with another unanimous decision over Shane McCarthy.

Olympic fought back to level at 3-3 as Patrick Maughan beat Michael McDonagh (unanimous), Darren Ward edged a split decision against Malachi Borrel and Martin Delaney outpointed Jack Sinnott (unanimous).

However, Islington pair Alfie Andrews and Paddy McCarthy excelled in tight contests to win majority decisions against Jamie Mongan and Owen McCarthy respectively.

Neh Thomas kept up his fine form with a unanimous decision against the Irish club’s far more experienced Bim Cleary, but Olympic responded again as Chris O’Brien took a majority verdict over Safi Abdulah.

The fight of the night also went in favour of the Galway club, with former European silver medallist James Cleary overcoming Anthony Ward on a unanimous decision.

That meant Islington captain Valerian Spicer needed victory over Orla McInerney to clinch the trophy – and she duly obliged with a display of crisp, straight punching that forced the Olympic corner to throw in the towel in the second round.

A return match has been pencilled in for May 2014 in north London.

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