Over the spring break, the University of St Andrews Boxing Club sent three of its boxers, Sam Goldberg, Tim Ciesla and Marcus Owtram, to Aberdeen to participate in the Scottish Universities Boxing Championship 2018. Goldberg was first to fight out of the three. Having dropped from middleweight (69 kg-75 kg) to welterweight (64 kg-69 kg), he went into his quarterfinal fight feeling fit and knowing that he would likely have a power advantage over his opponent. The bout was fast-paced, with his opponent coming out furiously in the first round. Goldberg did well to keep his composure and guard tight as he settled any pre-fight nerves with some excellent counter hooks and jabs. Round two was equally close; Goldberg used his weight advantage to nullify attempts by his opponent to work on the inside and again landed some quality hooks and straight right punches. Credit must also be given to his opponent who kept up an impressive work rate and landed a variety of lightening quick combinations. Round three was inevitably slower as both boxers started to tire, but Goldberg stepped up to the mark and controlled the centre of the ring, forcing his opponent to waste more energy moving from corner to corner. At the final bell both boxers congratulated each other on what was a very entertaining fight. The decision went the way of Edinburgh on a split points decision, which was fair given the very close nature of the bout.
Ciesla competed in his preferred light-welterweight (60-64kg) category and had been training hard following his first bout the previous month. His opponent was a more experienced southpaw from Aberdeen. As such, he knew it was going to be a tough fight. From the first bell to the last, this bout had everyone on the edge of their seats. Ciesla’s opponent came out flying with strong jabs and one-two combinations. However, each time his opponent came forward, Ciesla countered with some huge left hooks and stunned his opponent at least three times. Round one was closely fought but arguably went Ciesla’s way. Round two was just as contested; the opponent tried to rush him with flurries of combinations but his tight guard meant most of these landed on the gloves and arms. Both boxers became extremely tired in round three, but Ciesla continued to counter effectively and landed some particularly good body shots. At the final bell most of the crowd thought he had had done enough to win, but surprisingly Ciesla was eliminated in the semifinal by his opponent from the home university on a very close split decision. The subjective nature of points scoring in boxing is always good for a shocker, but that’s just boxing. St Andrews’ final competitor, Owtram, competed in the intermediate (6+ fights) middleweight category (69kg-75kg). His opponent, due to a lack of entries in his division, beefed up to middleweight to face him. The two had trained and sparred together before, so they knew they were in for a fast-paced and technical bout from boxers with high levels of stamina. The work rate was kept at a high intensity throughout all three rounds, and from round one the fight was electric. Owtram used his jab to work his way into range before landing some punishing body shots, to which his opponent responded by landing some excellent counter right hooks. Owtram did particularly well to control the centre of the ring for most of the fight, allowing him to sit back and work his jab or go forward with combinations. Because his opponent was moving on the ropes, Owtram landed some heavy body-head combinations and made sure to punish any lax head movement with heavy right hands straight down the middle. Round three was when both boxers went for broke, throwing and landing some huge punches to the crowd’s roaring approval. Owtram did a particularly good job of keeping his opponent on the back foot in this round, throwing lightning quick combinations and clenching at close range to prevent anything getting thrown back at him. At the final bell Owtram was declared the Scottish Universities Intermediate Middleweight Boxing Champion 2018 by a unanimous points decision. A rematch is already on the cards in April, which testifies to the excellent quality of boxing displayed by both fighters.
All three boxers delivered stellar performances and will be looking forward to stepping back into the ring for upcoming bouts.