Boxing: PJ Stubbs earns Yorkshire heavyweight belt for life at Royal Hall
Teenage boxer PJ Stubbs secured a memento for life after retaining the Yorkshire ABA Open Heavyweight belt for a third time at Harrogate’s Royal Hall.
Stubbs came back from the brink to secure a unanimous points decision over Halifax boxer Joe Wilkinson in the headline bout on Friday, October 31.
The 19-year-old was trailing following the first round, but a late flurry, aided by a low blow from Wilkinson which saw him lose a point, reversed the scores and saw the champion retain the title.
The former Rossett School pupil - who is now a teaching assistant at the school - started boxing aged 14 – but his boxing career was thwarted at an early stage when he dislocated his hip in a skiing accident. A year later, he was back in the ring as a member of Harrogate Boxing Club, based in Starbeck.
He first won the county heavyweight crown in May, and has since retained it three times to keep hold of the belt forever.
“I feel absolutely superb,” he said ringside at the Royal Hall after the fight.
“I earned that belt and I definitely had to earn it.
“First round, he had it, I was boxing rubbish and I was too cautious.
“Second round, his punches were starting to touch the face a bit and third round, there was nothing in his punches.
“People talk about pushing your body over that wall, I really had to do it.”
A huge crowd adorned the Royal Hall on Halloween for Harrogate club’s second boxing show at the venue - and Stubbs was buoyed on by a vociferous home support.
He said: “The atmosphere is something that pushes you over the line. When you hit that limit, it’s hard to go over it yourself, but when the crowd is behind you, family and friends and people that don’t know you, it’s the extra boost you need.”
Stubbs will now head to Sheffield for the second part of Great Britain trials with a view to advancing up the ladder of the sport - despite only seeing it as a “hobby”.
He added: “You find something that you’re good at and you stick to it. Boxing was never really that for me.
“It’s always been a bit of a hobby. To earn that when it’s just a hobby, you can’t wince.”
Fellow Harrogate boxer Will Simpson also claimed a unanimous victory in the penultimate fight on the card.
Simpson was wearing the Harrogate vest for a final time before moving to Sheffield to pursue his dreams of representing Great Britain.
The Harrogate fighter was too strong for Castle Hill boxing club’s Ben Broadhurst.
He said: “I was nervous, but I knew that this was ‘my last fight’ and a fight was what it had to be. “I poured my heart into it, from the show of confidence for the crowd to that big final exchange at the closing seconds of the fight.
“It felt like my way of saying goodbye to Harrogate ABC and I don’t think it could have been any better.”
Elsewhere, 10-year-old Melissa Millington became the club’s first girl to fight at the Royal Hall as she threw several thumping punches in the opening skills fight.
Fellow junior Harrogate fighters Guy Kitching, Levi Ali, Ben Smith and Jack Batchelor also fought on the night, but lost their fights.
Jon Lewis, Harrogate boxing club coach, added: “It was a fantastic night.
“The fights that were on were all top quality and the atmosphere was brilliant.”