Boxing: ABA squad includes just four domestic champions

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The Independent Online

The English Amateur Boxing Association has selected a full squad of 12 for this summer's Commonwealth Games and it includes just four reigning domestic champions. Eight of the boxers are 21 or younger.

There were calls for box-offs at 10 of the 12 weights butall pleas were ignored even though box-offs made sense and would have provided the fight-mad BBC with an afternoon of passionate and quality boxing.

The team includes two veterans from Kuala Lumpur, Steven Bell and Courtney Fry, and David Haye, who last year won a silver medal at the World Championships in Belfast.

"It is such a young and talented squad and we'll use this as a springboard for Athens in 2004 because that is where all amateur boxers want to go," claimed Haye, who is just 21.

The strength of the team was weakened before Christmas when it was clear that Carl Froch, Steve Foster, Matt Thirlwall and Matt Macklin had decided to turn professional and turn their backs on the Commonwealth Games and the promise of funding.

So far the £12m in Lottery money that the ABA of England received last year has proved useless in the struggle to stop professional promoters signing up the best amateurs.

The best performers in Manchester should be made lucrative offers to remain amateur until the Olympics. It is about time the £12m was spent on the boxers and not on public relations firms and spurious reports by unemployed sports administrators.

ABA OF ENGLAND COMMONWEALTH GAMES SQUAD: Light-fly: Darran Langley (Hollington); Fly: Matt Marsh (West Ham); Bantam: Mark Moran (Golden Gloves); Feather: Steven Bell (Nichols Police); Andy Morris (West Wythenshawe); Light-welter: Darren Barker (Repton); Welter: Danny Happe (Repton); Light-middle: Paul Smith (Rotunda); Middleweight: Steven Birch (St.Helens); Light-heavy: Courtney Fry (Salisbury); Heavy: David Haye (Broad Street); Super-heavy: David Dolan (Plains Farm).

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