COACH Vince McNally is predicting an evening of spectacular boxing at a sell-out international show in Hereford on Saturday night.
McNally, from Hereford, says the audience will be watching boxers who could be representing their nation at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Tickets for the England against Wales International Boxing Grand Prix Dinner show, at Hereford Sixth Form College, were sold out weeks in advance.
Hereford’s Lee Jenkins, who won a British Universities and Colleges Sport boxing title last weekend, will be a special guest at ring side.
“We have a waiting list for tickets because there has been so much demand for this show,” said McNally, who is organising the show with fellow coach Richard Roberts.
“England Boxing and the Wales Boxing Association are showcasing elite boxers and it’s the first time that Hereford has hosted something like this.
“Some of the boxers will have had 80-plus bouts and if you are on the England squad you are going to be a bit special.”
McNally added: “Lee Jenkins is a fantastic lad who has been through a lot and is now the university boxing champion. We are proud that Lee will be a guest at the show.”
Jenkins suffered serious injuries after falling down a cliff-face at Symonds Yat last March.
And last weekend, Jenkins defeated Heart of Portsmouth’s Eric Nwanko in a Class B middleweight final in Sheffield.
The England and Wales teams will be competing for the Hereford Times Cup with the show dedicated to Wye Police Boxing Club’s treasurer Jim Smith, who died in January.
Jim’s grandson, Liam Shaw, will be presenting the inaugural Jim Smith Memorial Cup to the show’s best boxer.
Alan Keast is the England coach and all of his team’s elite boxers are part of the Olympic programme.
A Wales Select team regained the Hereford Times Cup last year after a 5-4 victory over Midland regional coach Keast’s England Select.
And the Welsh team will be aiming to retain the title in Hereford’s maiden St David’s Day full international show.
Herefordshire lad Mark Abberley, the chief executive officer of England Boxing, said: “This will be the first time that an international between two home nations will be boxed under new international rules with a new scoring system and the headguards removed for elite boxers.”
He added: “We are impressed how well previous shows have been organised by Vince and his team and how well it is supported by the local community. It’s fantastic for us to have an opportunity to put on top-quality boxing in the area.
“We have a number of national champions and experienced international athletes competing and it’s as good an England v Wales there has been for a long time.”
McNally said: “This show is a full international and the standard will be a lot higher than at our previous shows. Team England will be in Hereford from Friday until Sunday and it can’t get any higher than this at the top end.”
The West Midlands Fire Service Pipe Band will be helping with the ring parade and the national anthems performed by Adam Gilbert.
Herefordshire singer Natalie Hall, a boxing fan who trains in Hinton, will be providing musical entertainment
James Thomas, from Wales Boxing Association, said: “I am delighted that Welsh Boxing has the opportunity to compete against England at the very first St David’s Day International in our annual calendar and to see it develop into a full international is testament to all those involved in delivering such a high calibre event in recent years.”
The City of Hereford Rotary Club are heavily involved in the organisation of the show and proceeds will go towards the muscular dystrophy charity, Action Duchenne.
Provisional bout list for Saturday’s Hereford show
1. 56kg youth: Sam Perry (Wales), Connor Jones (England).
2. 64kg youth: Meredudd Thomas (Wales), Kieran Conway (England).
3. 69kg youth: Joe Egan (Wales), Callum O’Brien (England).
4. 75kg youth: Sonny Lee (Wales), James Richardson (England).
5. 60kg elite: (women) Charlene Jones (Wales), Sandy Ryan (England).
6. 56kg elite: Joshua John (Wales), Luke McCormack (England).
7. 69kg elite tbc (Wales), Ekow Essuman (England)
8. 75kg elite: Morgan Jones (Wales), Dan Woledge (England).
9. 81kg elite: Nathan Thorley (Wales), John Newell (England)
10. 91kg elite: Kody Davis (Wales), Greg Bridet (England).