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West Ham boxer Lucien captures ABA elite bantamweight crown

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West Ham’s Lucien Reid scored a quick-time triumph to clinch the ABA elite bantamweight title in his clash against Salford opponent Marc Leach at Rainton Meadows, Sunderland on Saturday.

A right thrown by Reid in the opening seconds of the national final saw Leach reel back with an eye injury that left him in no condition to continue and the West Ham boxer became the new ABA champion.

The winner was the first of a trio of east London hopes to step up for the ABA finals, but following his victory there were defeats for his clubmate Luke Saunders at light middleweight and Repton welterweight Sam McNess.

Reid said after his success that he had planned to throw the early right to subdue the opening assault of his rival, who was likely to attack strongly from the start.

“It was tough on Leach to lose on an injury — but it’s great to be ABA champion,” said West Ham’s Reid, who endured disappointment on the ABA trail last year when he lost on a controversial majority verdict against Reece Bellotti who went on to capture the national title.

Now the 19-year-old bantam hope is looking forward to making his mark at international level as he ignores the temptation to join the paid ranks for now with prospects of a place in the Great Britain squad following his title triumph.

However the two other east London finalists have vowed to bounce back from their final setbacks with new determination after their long campaigns for glory finished with losing verdicts in the North East.

“I lost to the better fighter on the night,” said Saunders, following his defeat at the hands of Scott Fitzgerald from Preston’s Larches and Savick BC.

However he also knew he did not produce his top form, adding: “I have beaten better boys on the way to the final.”

The clash was one of the closest bouts of the night, with the 21 year old Fitzgerald coming under early pressure as the fast punching West Ham hope whipped home effective attacks.

But Saunders could not display the domination he had shown in the earlier stages of this year’s event on his way through to the final as his rival fought back strongly to clinch a unanimous decision.

McNess also felt he was not at his very best after he was beaten by Durham soldier Jeff Saunders in their title decider.

The Bethnal Green club entry showed the effects of his long campaign on the ABA trail as he allowed his rival to take control of the contest with effective counter-punching.

McNess fought back with his own two-fisted attacks but Saunders — a 21-year-old, whose brother Bradley is now an unbeaten professional boxer following a successful amateur career — stepped up the pace to clinch a comfortable win.

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