Times ABC fighter turns the tables on England rival to grab gold medal

Zak Chelli

Zak Chelli - Credit: Archant

Times ABC’s Zak Chelli gained revenge for his controversial defeat by Ben Whittaker by scooping a gold medal at the GB Youth Three Nations Championship.

The 17-year-old middleweight’s dreams of a third England Youth Championship title were dashed when he lost the final on a split decision to England team-mate Whittaker in February.

But Chelli turned the tables on his rival – who had already knocked out Scotland’s European champion Willie Hutchinson – at the tournament in Rotherham on Sunday, by taking a unanimous decision this time.

“I’m so pleased for Zak – I know how hard he’s worked and he’s boxed brilliantly. It’s the best that any boy at our club’s ever done,” said Times head coach Dave Ryan.

“He didn’t get the decision last time, but to beat the boy that beat the European champion is just fantastic. I think now he’s got to be number one in the UK without a doubt.

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“To be a champion you’ve got to beat a champion. It’s no good drawing with them – in professional boxing, that means the champion keeps his title – so you’ve got to win to prove yourself.”

Chelli overcame Wales team captain Kieran Jones in their semi-final clash the previous day, controlling the first round with solid, accurate punching.

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Jones pushed forward in the second and third rounds and the pair went toe to toe, but the Times youngster stood his ground and his strength and skill earned him a unanimous decision.

And Chelli triumphed again in a tense final, landing the more powerful shots when he got close to Whittaker and doing enough to clinch the gold medal.

Islington BC’s Daniel Dubois, who won a silver medal at last year’s Three Nations tournament, had been due to box again at 91kg but was forced to withdraw due to a bout of ‘flu.

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