Repton old boys ready to sparkle

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 March 2017

Martin J Ward (left) and Ronnie Clark during their British super-featherweight title bout at Wembley (pic Steven Paston/PA)

Martin J Ward (left) and Ronnie Clark during their British super-featherweight title bout at Wembley (pic Steven Paston/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Ward and Okolie lined up on big Manchester bill

Lawrence Okolie competed for Team GB at the Rio Olympics (pic David Davies/PA)Lawrence Okolie competed for Team GB at the Rio Olympics (pic David Davies/PA)

Former Repton amateurs Martin J Ward and Lawrence Okolie are both aiming to sparkle on the big world title bill at Manchester Arena on Saturday.

Both appear on the undercard of Anthony Crolla’s world lightweight unification rematch with Jorge Linares, with Ward defending his British title and Okolie making his pro debut on the bill screened on Sky Sports

Ward won a string of titles at Repton and makes the second defence of his British super-featherweight crown when he faces Yorkshire’s Maxi Hughes for the third time.

After a draw and five-round stoppage of Hughes, the unbeaten champion wants an impressive performance to prove that 2017 will be a big year for his career.

“I’m going to go in there and smash him,” said Ward. “I want to be getting up there for European titles, and on to the world stage.

“I want to get up there now this year. I have been pro since 2012 and I am ready to take on some of the big boys.”

Okolie is the first of the 2016 Team GB Olympians to taste action in the paid ranks as he makes his pro debut against Russell Henshaw, the tough Derby fighter who has won seven of his 11 bouts.

The 24-year-old east Londoner said: “Everyone is excited to see how I do and I am too, I believe I can do the business but I am stepping into the unknown, it’s really exciting.

“I’ve learnt how to deal with handling the weight of expectation and still perform to the best of my abilities, and that’s going to stand me in good stead in the pros.”

*There was delight and despair for east London hopes in Southern Area title action on successive nights at York Hall, with victory for Wadi Camacho but defeat for Alan Higgins.

Big-hitting cruiserweight Camacho regained the belt when halting Peterborough’s tough Karl Wheeler in the fifth round of Saturday’s Goodwin promotion.

It was a third victory in four Area title battles fought at York Hall in the past 13 months for the popular east Londoner, as the 31-year old Camacho’s mobility and punch power saw him dominate the exchanges against a strong rival who missed the target with most of his big swings.

Solid shots punished the Peterborough boxer as he backed up against the ropes in the fourth and fifth rounds and a solid body blow saw him crumble to the canvas.

He climbed upright but looked unsteady and referee Bob Williams signalled the end after two minutes 27 seconds of the fifth round.

“I took my time and landed some good shots, but the superb atmosphere at York Hall made it a great night,” said Camacho.

Just 24 hours earlier, Higgins lost his Area super-middleweight title and his unbeaten record as a disputed decision went in to rival Craig Richards.

“I thought I won, so did most of the crowd, but the referee gave it against me, now I ‘d like a rematch,” said the Peacock gym fighter, who had won his previous 12 pro bouts.

Many considered the two-handed attacks of Higgins had swayed the verdict his way against the long-range punches of his taller rival, but not referee Jeff Hinds, who scored it 97-95 in favour of the 26-year-old south Londoner Richards who is unbeaten in eight fights.

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