Pleasure and disappointment.
Those were emotions expressed by the Spruce Capital Warriors Boxing Club members at Boxing BC provincials in Surrey on the weekend.
Warriors coach Wayne Sponagle said this year’s provincial championship tournament was the best he’d attended in years. He gave rave reviews on everything from the organization of the event, to the fan support, to the calibre of the matches.
Yet through the successes his boxers endured, which included victories for Thomas Speirs and Hank Lukan, one Spruce Capital representative had a weekend he’d rather forget. In his only 64-kilogram bout of the weekend, Marcus Hume fell short against Maple Ridge pugilist David Funk.
“He doesn’t seem to be taking the next step above from where he’s risen to now,” Sponagle said. “He’s not fighting as good as he was two, three years ago.”
Speirs’ victory, a 9-5 win over Dan Csaszar of Abbotsford, came in his only 75 kg bout of the weekend on Sunday. But the match wasn’t the only senior open nationals qualifier for the 20-year-old. With five boxers in the division at provincials, a quarterfinal match was required on Saturday.
“I was very happy with Thomas,” Sponagle said. “He looked fantastic in the first and second round.”
Speirs earned a first round bye and, with Sunday’s win, advances to the provincial final against Robert Taylor of Victoria-based Olson’s Gym. Taylor and Speirs will meet in the ring at the provincial box-offs on Nov. 20 in Mission.
Taylor was awarded the decision over Robert Couzens of Burnaby in the other semifinal match, a result which caught Sponagle by surprise. Couzens is a three-time national champion who trains under former Olympian Manny Sobral at the North Burnaby Boxing Club.
Speirs is the defending 75 kg provincial champion who got his first taste of senior nationals in January in St. Hyacinthe, Que., where he finished 1-1 in a pair of bouts.
This year’s Boxing Canada senior national championships are Dec. 7 to 11 in Quebec City. Sponagle expects Speirs and Edmonton product Robbie Cusine, a new addition to the Warriors this season, will compete in nationals. Cusine didn’t attend provincials and would enter as a wild card.
As for Hume’s participation as a wild card, Sponagle said he’d leave that up to the 64 kg boxer. Sponagle said Hume connected on more body shots than Funk, but when asked in between rounds to go for more head shots, he’d continue boxing the same style.
“I just told Marcus, Marcus, I don’t know what to do with you. You can’t follow instructions, you won’t do what I tell you to do’,” Sponagle said. “You go out and do what you want to do.’ We’ll see where it goes.”
Lukan won two 81 kg senior novice bouts at provincials.
“Hank looked very good in his first fight, excellent, everybody commented on it,” Sponagle said.
Daniel Kragt and Mackenzie Cruickshank also boxed for the Spruce Capital Warriors in Surrey. Kragt finished on the losing end of a 91 kg and under senior open tilt, while Cruickshank stepped in the ring for an exhibition.
Cruickshank, 14, had planned to enter the 57 kg novice C class. He exchanged punches with Cranbrook boxer Brad Hystad.
“If he stays with it, he’s going to be a very good boxer someday,” Sponagle said. “I think he’ll go on to represent B.C. very good in the future.”
At provincials in Surrey, they were both walk-overs in their weight classes.
So what did Inner City Boxing Club members Kenny Lally and Jag Seehra do? They boxed each other in an exhibition on Saturday.
“I asked (the judges) to keep score and Jag beat him by five points,” Inner City Boxing Club coach Bob Pegues said. “Jag is amazing, like 100 per cent over last year. Jag is looking so good.”
After boxing in the 64 kg division for his first season at the senior open level in 2008-09, Seehra switched to the 60 kg division last year. He finished 3-0 in the 2009 provincials, but couldn’t carry over the success to the national stage, losing his first match in January to Alberta boxer Cam O’Connell 18-3.
Seehra decided to continue boxing at the 60 kg class despite a recommendation from Pegues to return to his previous weight class.
“That’s where he should fight, it’s just that the competition is so tough,” Pegues said.
Pegues hopes Seehra gets another shot at O’Connell in the first round of next month’s nationals.
“Cam, he’s been national champ many times,” Pegues said. “He’s just a veteran, he just knows where to put the punches.”
Lally, a Canadian national team hopeful for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, has moved to a new 52 kg division for this year’s nationals.