At the MadKatz Boxing Club’s fight night in Kelowna Saturday, Aug. 24, Sunshine Coast boxers Justin Lee and Beau Smith gave the packed house great ring performances at this amateur event.
First to box was Beau who stepped into the ring to face 100 Mile House boxer Brandon Balbirnie.
Brandon, a tall sturdy boy, attacked Beau in an attempt to overwhelm him. Beau boxed intelligently, allowing Brandon to attack him so he could slip his punches and counter punch back. This pattern continued throughout the fight, as Brandon was bleeding badly from his nose by the end of the first round.
The 100 Mile House boxer tried to catch Beau with volleys of hard punches, but Beau was too slick and was not getting hit as his “make him miss, make him pay” strategy was paying off.
In the third round coach Randy Hollett sent Beau out on the attack. Beau landed many heavy punches as his tough opponent, who was bleeding badly, kept trying and would not give up.
By the middle of the final round, the doctor stopped the fight as it is suspected that Brandon may have had a broken nose.
The audience, which included many knowledgeable boxing people, appreciated the skill and composure Beau exhibited in this bout.
Beau was prepared for this fight by coaches Hollett, George Vourtsis and Todd Allain. Coast Moving helped with his sponsorship.
In the main event, Lee boxed Kelowna favourite Ryan Van Der Lee in a middleweight bout.
Justin was more of the boxer to Ryan’s slugger-style at the start of the bout. Justin would measure Ryan with long jabs to set up his stiff straight right-hand punches, while Ryan would bull his way inside to land his hooks.
By round two the bout was a back-and-forth affair, as the men would take turns scoring heavy punches.
The crowd, which was on its feet from the opening bell encouraging the local boxer, were treated to a display of heavy punches, boxing skill and plenty of heart by both boxers.
The room was insane in the final round, which saw both men staggered and fighting with their last ounces of energy.
At the conclusion of the bout Justin and Ryan were given a huge ovation by the appreciative audience as they showed great respect for each other for having what it takes to prepare for such a tough fight and box with class.
As the decision was being announced, the room fell silent and then became deafeningly loud as the referee, 1984 Olympic bronze medalist Dale Walters, raised Ryan’s hand as the split-decision winner.
“If the fight was held in Gibsons, Justin probably would have gotten the decision, the fight was that close,” said Sunshine Coast Boxing Club technical advisor Rick Shannon.
Hollett, Vourtsis and Allain also trained Justin. Justin also credits his fitness improvement to his workouts at Valhalla Cross Training and thanks his sponsor Sunshine Lodge of Gibsons.
In other club news, Vourtsis will box at the WBC Canadian Championships in Langley next Friday, Sept. 13, against Marko Szalai of Ontario.