“Lights Out” Lawton is a boxing champ

Jerome Lawton winning the ABA Schoolboys North West title. (s)

Jerome Lawton winning the ABA Schoolboys North West title. (s)

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TWO titles at the ABA Schoolboy Boxing Championships has made it a very prosperous start to 2011 for Burnley’s Sandygate Amateur Boxing Club.

One of the town’s hottest prospects, 14-year-old Jerome ‘Lights Out’ Lawton, retained his North West title in Gorton, Manchester, after defeating Skerton ABC’s Walter Fury in the semi-final before banishing 2010 ABA Schoolboy semi-finalist Ben Beswick with an emphatic performance in the final.

The teenager, ranked number seven in England, showed he had a mature head on young shoulders with a composed but devastating display in the North West region Class Two 48kg semi-final.

In what was a bruising affair, Lawton took command straight after the opening bell landing with ferocious aggression and pin point accuracy. The Hameldon Year 9 student dominated with lightening speed as he worked off his jab.

The second round once again saw the Burnley boxer tower above his opponent on a pedestal, endlessly catching Fury with successive heavy right hooks and the Skerton fighter was reliant on the bell to save him.

The third and final one-and-a-half minute round was a master class with the Sandygate show-stopper throwing shot after shot with his unorthodox, imposing style overwhelming Fury. Five rapid rights on the button gave the man-in-the-middle no choice but to administer an eight count, prompting all five judges ringside to return a verdict of a unanimous decision and a place in the final for Lawton.

The final saw two top ten England fighters billed to go blow-for-blow. The early exchanges were tentative but in the flick of a switch Lights Out Lawton connected with a blinding body shot which rocked Beswick back to the Morecambe sands. The Holmes Street fighter was relentless in his attack and followed up with his rigid jab, left hook, rear hand, right hook combination in blistering speed.

The second saw a focused Beswick come out fighting, realising his only loss last year to Burnley’s European Schoolboy Champion was about to be repeated, but the resolve of young Jerome was not broken as he totally controlled the round even reversing his well skilled opposite number in the corners and countering with ease.

Up from his stool early for the third Lawton’s focus was unrivalled; Beswick failed to connect with a single shot as the Sandygate boxer dominated the squared-circle once more.

The roof was raised when the referee lifted Jerome’s hand as the victor. He now boxes in the ABA Quarter-Finals in Yorkshire on February 13th.

Not to be outdone by his pugilistic peer, making his debut in the championships, James Kimberley, 11, was matched with much fancied Maliki Dixon (Moss Side ABC) in the Extra Schoolboy’s ABA North West Final, boxing at 48kg.

When called to the centre of the ring by the referee to touch gloves the Year 7 St Augustine’s pupil’s height advantage became apparent, and ‘Kimbo’ used it to his advantage straight from the opening bell peppering the local boxer with rigid jabs and crunching rear hands to silence the crowd.

Throwing numerous combos, landing with many and taking little in return, the second and third was also a one-way affair with the Sandygate slugger never letting up with his classic jab giving the five judges ringside the easiest decision of the event - a unanimous nod to the Burnley based boxer and a second title to the popular East Lancashire Club.

Club coaches Nik Tucker and Shaun Dwyer couldn’t fault the boys’ performances: “Jerome took out two very tight boxers,” Nik said. “Beswick was ranked number four and he made light-work of him and you know you’ve a tough bout when you face a Fury. But Jerome’s commitment to training and discipline really pays off.

“As for ‘Kimbo’ they were all raving on about this kid from Moss Side but they are going to have to be real special to beat James.”

Shaun added: “We entered a few lads this year, with all of them performing well. A few verdicts raised an eyebrow but that’s boxing.”

Anyone wishing to take up the noble art at East Lancashire’s oldest boxing club can contact Nik on 07855 505719 or Andy Howcroft on 07866 073353.