Boxing: Box-offs loom for England places

Eleven young boxers will in theory move closer to a place in England's team for next year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne when the Amateur Boxing Association finals take place at Wembley Conference Centre tonight.

The selection process for next year's Games will be influenced but not dictated by the 11 winners from tonight's finals. Five of England's leading boxers missed this year's domestic championship to travel last month to China for the World Championships and they will surely figure in the final selection process and that will inevitably mean box-offs just after Christmas.

Perhaps the pick of tonight's contests will be at middleweight, where the clear No 1, James Degale, will meet Liverpool's Joey McNally. McNally is one of three boxers from the Rotunda club to reach the finals, which is an amazing achievement for any club in any era.

Joining McNally from the Liverpool gym will be the featherweight Stephen Smith and the heavyweight Tony Bellew, who is going for his third successive title. Smith meets Elton's Akaash Bhatia and Bellew fights Wellington's Nathan Thompson.

In Nottingham, Carl Froch defends his unbeaten record and his Commonwealth super-middleweight title against South African veteran, Ruben Groenewald. Froch is both one of the best fighters in Britain and equally one of the most neglected, but, if he can beat Groenewald, there is every chance that he will finally emerge as a respectable player on the world stage next year.

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