A promising squad of new British boxers impressed at the Socikas tournament that finished in Lithuania on May 15. GB had five boxers secure gold medals: Kiaran MacDonald at 52kgs, Calum French at 64kgs, Rosie Eccles at 69kgs, Conner Tudsbury at 81kgs and Scottish heavyweight Scott Forrest, all ones to watch for the next Olympic cycle.
Rosie Eccles’ triumph at the tournament was bittersweet. In her first bout she got revenge on the Russian boxer who had eliminated her from the Olympic qualification event in 2020, beating Saadat Dalgatova on a split decision. In the final she comfortably beat the host nation’s Augustina Markelionytevia.
Calum French returned to action for the first time in 18 months. “I know it was just a little tournament in Lithuania but it meant everything to us winning that. After 18 months out with the injury, with the Covid [situation], winning that tournament meant something to us,” French told Boxing News.
After getting his eye in against Lithuania’s Lukas Pusvaskis, winning unanimously, he outscored France’s Lounes Hamraoui by split decision in the semi-final. Then he took on seasoned international medallist Enrico Lacruz of Holland, outpointing him unanimously. “[Hamraoui] is a good kid, southpaw, he had good footwork, razor sharp jab. But once I started going through the gears with him he couldn’t go with us. Lacruz is Lacruz obviously, he’s always game. That was the third time I boxed him.”
“He’s experienced, he’s been in there with a few good fighters. He’s got good wins over [Lazaro] Alvarez. He’s got a few major medals to his name,” French continued. “He’s big, tall, strong and gangly. He’s awkward to fight against as well because he’s quite scrappy. You’d think with him being such a long-limbed kid he’d box at long range a lot but he gets in to fight a lot. He’s quite awkward to fight against. He probably hates me now. I’ve beat him three times.
“My reaction after I won the final, it was pure passion. It was an unbelievable feeling getting back amongst it. Getting back amongst the golds as well. When I first got on GB I was winning gold medal after gold medal and you don’t really realise how much you love winning them gold medals until you’re sat on that second tier or even the bronze medal. To get back on top of the podium was an unreal feeling.”
Welsh and Scottish squads also impressed in the tournament. Wales’ Billy Unsworth secured a good result when he outpointed GB’s Niall Farrell on a split decision in the 57kgs final. Middleweight Taylor Bevan delivered a strong sequence of performances as he took 75kgs gold. Welsh twins Ioan Croft and Garan Croft secured silver medals and Scotland’s Reese Lynch also earned a gold medal, beating Ukraine’s Danylo Lozan on a unanimous decision in his final bout.
52: Kiaran MacDonald (England) outpd Lennon Mulligan (Scotland) unan, MacDonald outpd Marius Vysniauskas (Lithuania) unan, Ibrahim Boukedim (France) outpd Ryan Carlin (Scotland) split, MacDonald outpd Boukedim unan. 57: Niall Farrell (England) outpd Vasile Usturoi (Belgium) split, Billy Unsworth (Wales) outpd Farrell split. 60: Edgaras Skurdelis (Lithuania) outpd Charlie Doig (Scotland) unan. 64: Reese Lynch (Scotland) outpd Eduardo Bajak (Germany) unan, Danylo Lozan (Ukraine) outpd Luke Bibby (Scotland) split, Enrico Lacruz (Netherlands) outpd Robbie McKechnie (Scotland) split, Calum French (England) outpd Lukas Pusvaskis (Lithuania) unan, Lynch outpd Modestas Zmuidina (Lithuania) split, French outpd Lounes Hamraoui (France) split, Lynch outpd Lozan unan, French outpd Lacruz unan. 69: Tyler Jolly (Scotland) outpd Mykola Keush (Ukraine) split, Sebastian Terteryan (Denmark) outpd Harris Akbar (England) split, Stephen Newns (Scotland) outpd Cas van Peer (Netherlands) unan, Rosie Eccles (Wales) outpd Saadat Dalgatova (Russia) split, Ioan Croft (Wales) outpd Jolly unan, Hugo Grau (France) outpd Newns split, Eccles stpd Augustina Markelionyte (Lithunia) 2nd, Filip Wachala (Poland) outpd Croft unan. 75: Iveta Lesinskyte (Lithuania) outpd Kerry Davis (England) unan, Taylor Bevan (Wales) outpd Anton Embulaev (Finalnd) unan, Zenfira Magomedalieva (Russia) outpd Davis unan, Garan Croft (Wales) outpd Lukasz Zygula (Poland) unan, Bevan stpd Oleksandr Shytyi (Ukraine) 2nd, Moreno Fendero (France) outpd Ramtin Musah (England) split, Vytautas Balsys (Lithuania) outpd Croft unan, Bevan outpd Fendero split. 81: Conner Tudsbury (England) outpd Pal Kovacs (Hungary) unan, Tudsbury outpd Monny Raphael (France) unan, Tudsbury outpd Rick de Nooijer (Netherlands) unan. 91: Scott Forrest (Scotland) stpd Krisztian Kovacs (Hungary) 1st, Avton Borzsei (Sweden) stpd Samson Leyson (Wales) 3rd, Forrest stpd Simonas Urbonavicius (Lithuania) 2nd, Forrest outpd Oleksandr Pylypchuk (Ukraine) unan. 91&: Jonas Jazevicius (Lithuania) outpd Delicious Orie (England) split.