Fight Night. Wow. The first of its kind in the Bubble proved a very welcome addition to St Andrews’ somewhat plentiful list of events held at Kinkell Byre when it took place on Wednesday 17 April. When the event was announced, little was known about how the night would unfold, but it would be fair to say that it was an evening which surpassed every expectation.
The idea was a simple one: twenty fighters with little or no previous boxing experience would embark upon a rigorous twelve-week crash course in the sport, with two sessions a week being held in Dundee. From the outset, what seemed clear was the level of commitment shown by each and every fighter; they had visibly gone to great lengths to ensure they were in the best possible shape for the big occasion. With one of my flatmates competing in the event, I can attest first-hand to the sacrifices made: hill sprints at 7 am on a Sunday morning, strict meal plans and a rather unfortunate alcohol ban.
The fights themselves (three rounds of two minutes) were full of excitement and drama, with a recurrence of aggressive game plans leaving little time for defence. Despite this, all but one of the fights required a third round to decide the outcome. The first fight of the night saw co-host “Anthony” Joshua Hopkins face off against George “Deontay” Wilder, one which set a very early precedent for the evening. Hopkins prevailed victorious after three brutal rounds in which both fighters inflicted heavy blows on one another. The second fight of the evening was a battle of the FS models: Dima “The Ukrainian Stallion” Chumak vs Alex “The French Hammer” Rochal. Easily one of the tightest fights of the evening, Rochal eventually prevailed following a unanimous points position.
Next up was Spaniard George Hornung against Grant Cooper, the former prevailing in an enthralling encounter. The fourth fight, though, and the first women’s fight of the evening, was perhaps the most impressive. Following a late drop out, Frank “The Tank” Hampton found herself opposite the semi-professional Dundonian Terri Thorburn. The St Andrews student’s performance was nothing short of exceptional, with Thorburn clearly uncomfortable and very much on the back foot on a number of occasions after a fiery first round. Whilst the final decision did not go her way, the result could have perhaps been different on another day.
The fifth fight of the evening could be described as a masterclass from fourth year student Alistair “The Shredder” Bidie, with Charlie “Roger” Manasseh being stopped in the second round after a number of heavy blows. In the build-up to the event, Bidie had been touted as one of the clear favourites, and he did not disappoint. The conclusion of that fight left the crowd eagerly anticipating what was easily the best contest of the evening: Joe “King” Klein vs Charlie “The King Killer” Mingay. As it so happened, Mingay stayed true to his nickname. One could easily run out of superlatives to describe the fight from a spectator’s perspective, with both fighters being knocked down in the early stages. The nail-biting affair was finally brought to an end in the middle of the third round when Mingay inflicted one blow too many on Klein.
The second and final women’s fight of the evening was an entertaining one, with Marcela “The Token Latina” Zamora laying claim to the best walk-in of the night. “Tasty Hannah” Walters emerged victorious though after a tight affair. Patrick “The Table Smasher” Edward defeated Tom “Wan Punch” Myers in the ensuing fight before the Glaswegian Josh “You Can Run But You Can’t” Hyde took on Canadian Nico “The Knock Out” Laframboise. Technically the best fight of the night, the pair demonstrated their previous boxing experience in yet another close encounter, with Laframboise prevailing victorious. The final encounter was a heavyweight clash, with Kit “The Shocker” Betley putting in an impressive performance to overcome Toch “BLK MGC” Emuwa.
All in all, event organisers Harry Bremner, Joe Murray and Josh Hopkins deserve massive credit for the show which they put on in front of a full capacity crowd. The fighters took note of the incredible atmosphere, with the VIP area allowing spectators to get right beside the ring and cheer on their friends. The after party was just as impressive, with graduate Ashton Squires making a return and taking the reins on the decks. Here’s hoping Fight Night 2019 makes an appearance in next year’s itinerary.