FEW athletes are afforded the cliched fairytale finish and so it was last night at Nambucca Heads as local lad Mitchel Stapleton lost a split decision against Newcastle’s Daniel Evans.
With the 71kg NSW title on the line, the massive home crowd was hungry for a Mitchel victory in his 50th and final amateur bout on his home turf before turning professional.
But it was not to be as the champion outfoxed the 18-year-old over four spine-tingling rounds.
Mitchel had a clear reach advantage but couldn’t stay clear and pick off his opponent, who continually closed the gap to get inside.
It was an absorbing contest, and Mitchel typically was gracious after the match in thanking his family and friends who had turned out in droves to will him on at the Nambucca Heads Bowling Club.
The best bout on the 11-match card pitted Nambucca’s Jay Melrose against Grafton’s Zac Cotten – two campaigners with plenty of talent and spirit.
Jay came out like a beserker, with a sustained fast and heavy attack that rocked Zac. The match then found a barely less ferocious pace, as both fighters exchanged fists and verbals. Late in the match the ref had heard enough of the chat and docked a point off Jay who went on to get the decision none-the-less.
Despite the war of words, both young men embraced as soon as the ‘ding’ of the bell at the last.
The other standout bout of the night was Macksville’s Mitchell Baker-Leibe versus Taree’s Darren Fitzsimmons.
Mitchell had age and height on his side, but Darren took everything on his chin and just kept rolling forward before launching a series of withering body shots that brought a standing eight count on his way to the win.
In the opening bout on the promotion, Kingscliff’s Ty Payne secured a unanimous decision over Jesse Catt in a livewire 61kg exchange.
Next up was an exhibition featuring Mitchel Stapleton’s sister Keeley, Woodburn’s Krystal White and Kingscliff’s Rachel Loder.
In an 88kg contest, Macksville’s Kyle Miller and Kingscliff’s John Robinson added to their ringcraft, while at the same weight Corey Lynch from Coffs Harbour and Grafton’s Sam McKechnie bombed away.
It was an interstate battle next as Deception Bay’s Thomas Cruise got the chocolates over Coffs’ Jacob Vickery.
Watch the first round of that epic here:
Another popular Nambucca boy and rising star, Rhys Ferguson met his match in Maitland’s Isaac Hawes who used his superior reach wisely.
And it was a good ol’ fashioned Nambucca Valley stoush as Macksville’s Nathan Smythe took a split decision over Heads’ Dale Strachan.
In the battle of the big boppers, super heavyweights Jack Maris and Woodburn’s Tyler White slugged it out.
Enjoy the photo gallery.