Boxing:Young strikes out for counties title

LEONIS ABC'S Paul Young takes on Courtney Thomas for the Western Counties boxing championship in Bristol tonight.

Victory for the Island boxer at Ashton Gate would secure the UEFA B-qualified football coach a place in the ABA championship quarter-finals.The 32-year-old trust manager said: 'I'm really looking forward to the bout and hope I can do as well as I did on the night when I won the south-west divisional title.

I had to box twice then, but this time there is only one bout so I won't have to conserve any energy for a second bout and can go flat out.'I'm expecting Thomas to be a strong boxer and one who will be looking to get forward all the time.

I'm strong for my weight and will be aiming to use that to my advantage.

In fact, I'm the fittest I've ever been.

I put that down to the training I've been doing - eight sessions a week have been made up of three runs, three boxing sessions in the gym and two weights sessions with my personal trainer, Wayne Stewart.

It's been hard work but I'm feeling the benefits.

I've never been so fit.'The Middlesbrough-born Young, now in his fourth season in the ring, is delighted with his progress overall.

'I came to Jersey ten years ago and after six years' playing and coaching football, I decided I wanted to see if I could get a competitive boxing bout.

I went to the gym and this is where I am now.'When Dave Lund reached the ABA quarter-finals last year it inspired me to try the same route.

It's been hard work but very enjoyable.

All the boxers get excellent encouragement from coach Dave Thompson and we are all very grateful to him.'Young's opponent, Thomas, has also had two bouts to reach this stage of the ABA title trail.

He produced a surprise result in his first outing when he dethroned former Young England international Andrew Woodward, the reigning West Country welterweight champion, with a comprehensive points win.South-west boxing journalist Peter Foley said: 'Whether Thomas can sustain that level of artillery with Young remains to be seen.

But the Leonis boxer will have to be prepared to go the distance because Thomas is displaying the best form of his career and his confidence will have increased considerably after those two impressive wins at the start of the campaign.'If it comes to a toe-to-toe battle, the Leonis boxer will probably have the edge, but this is an opponent he should not underestimate.'

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