A kickboxing demonstration was followed by an entertaining six-bout undercard; the highlight coming from Oxford’s Jack Cadeel, who disposed of Peter Offen in an indication of the entertainment to come for the rapidly growing crowd.
The main-event began with the entrance of Cambridge’s Soren Demin, who looked relaxed but maybe overconfident as he prepared to fight Jamie Kitt. The Worcester man quashed his haughtiness, looking to establish his kicking in the first round with a series of front kicks. Kitt landed a fantastic roundhouse kick to the face in the second round as the Cambridge Light Welterweight looked to counter his strikes but Kitt was too quick and skilful for him. In the final round, the Oxford fighter kept his challenger at bay with rapid combinations, easing to a deserved 30-27 win.
The atmosphere was becoming increasingly intimidating for the visitors when Adam Dathi disposed of Rupert Goodway, 30-29. To the chant of his name, the Merton man majestically used the jab to soften up his opponent before landing a fantastic four-strike combination to rock Goodway in the first round.
The Cambridge boxer soon realised that his defence was being repeatedly penetrated and chose to simply attack, which brought him some success but also allowed Dathi to land a fabulous right cross to the jaw. The final ninety seconds was an electrifying blur of strikes; Goodway landed a strong right hand whilst Dathi used his quickness to consistently damage his rival. An excellent left from Goodway in the closing stages was not enough to persuade the judge he had outperformed Oxford’s Light Welterweight as Dathi earned a deserved victory.
Borna Guevel’s triumph (see page 31) was followed by Gatis Mikelson, from the Light Middleweight division. With a 100% success rate thus far, Oxford knew a victory for Mikelson would see them crowned Varsity Champions; an expectant hush descended upon the theatre. This soon transformed into a roar of delight as the rugged and rug-chested Latvian fittingly summed up Oxford’s assertiveness with the only knockout of the night; a TKO after a strong kick to Ed Burgess’ ribs.
In a furious contest, Mikelson floored his opponent with a sharp kick to the shin in the first round and then made it two broken noses in two fights, demolishing Burgess’ nose with a smart jab. Despite a spirited comeback from the red corner, the St Hugh’s fighter ended it with a kick to the mid-riff; one which Burgess could not recover from, confirming Oxford as Varsity winners.
In the only female contest of the Varsity card, Oxford’s Cicely Marshall drew with her Cambridge counterpart; a result could be viewed as fortunate for the Cambridge Bantamweight. Marshall displayed superlative kicking technique throughout; the stark contrast between her majestic glide to manoeuvre herself space in the ring with the brutal kicks to her opponent’s face surely warranted a victory. Despite the judge deciding that both competitors were equal, Marshall’s entrance music – ‘Superstar’ by Lupe Fiasco – seemed somewhat prophetic as she gave an exciting and technically fantastic performance.
The foundations of Keble College were still convalescing from Borna Guevel’s victory when they trembled once more to the sound of Somerville’s James Richardson entering the theatre. The copper-haired Welsh warrior strode into the ring, confident of repeating his feat from the previous year, breaking adversary Leo Swartz’s nose. Richardson began intensely to the glee of his rabid followers; a strong kick was followed with frantic left and right jabs. However, Swartz had learnt from last year and battled back strongly.
The Oxford Welterweight displayed astuteness throughout the fight, not allowing Swartz to land many clean strikes whilst proving himself proficient in connecting pads on flesh. The referee Mr Ali warned both competitors about holding after the second round; somewhat harsh, given Swartz’s eventual tactic of turning his back on Richardson as he tried to land high front kicks and jabs. To the ecstasy of his support, Richardson had the class and nous to emerge with a tight 30-29 victory, and ensure two consecutive varsity triumphs in his first two years at Oxford.
With the party in full swing and the red corner yet to trouble the scorecard, Cambridge’s Chris Webb beat Middleweight Alex Baneke 30-27, but it was scant consolation for Cambridge as Oxford celebrated an emphatic 5-1 victory.