Ready to rumble: Boxing makes long-awaited return to Grafton
BOXING: Sweat does not just drip off the bodies at the Grafton Amateur Boxing Club - it flows down in rivers, glistening off rippled flesh under harsh fluorescent lights.
And it flies across the gym as boxers throw their body weight into every punch.
Right, left, duck, weave - it is a repetitive process that coach Dean Cribb drills into his students.
Right, left, duck, weave - against heavy bags, speed bags and in the sparring ring.
It does not change.
Cribb is teaching his fighters control. The ability to control their movements, control their opponent's movements and control the result of the bout.
With less than a week until the Clarence Valley witnesses boxing first hand for the first time in more than five years, it is action all stations for Cribb's club.
Six fighters out of the amateur gym will compete on the Grafton Fight Night card scheduled for next Saturday (December 17) at the Clarence River Jockey Club with three setting their sights on North Coast championship belts.
"The lads are all building up nicely towards their bouts now, we just can't wait for it to happen," Cribb said.
"It is the first live fight night in about five years so it will be something special.
"There will be five title belts up for grabs on the night and we have a couple of young ladies who will be putting on an exhibition bout on the card as well."
The women's exhibition fight will bring the return of Woodburn's Krystal White to the ring as she faces National title holder Karlee "The Krusher" Whitton.
South Grafton Rebels live wire Rhys Walters, who was originally scheduled for a bout with Grafton Ghosts' Josh Nagle before the fitness instructor was forced to withdraw, will now fight former Rebel Jay Melrose, now out of the Nambucca Heads Roosters Rugby League Club.
The pair will do battle for the North Coast Light Heavyweight belt with Walters sweating it out under Cribb's watchful eye over the past six months.
"It is a very even match up between those two," Cribb said. "They both weigh in the same and have had no fights. It should be a really good bout."
Current New England Light Heavyweight champ Zac Cotten will also return to action for the first time in four months as he looks to become the next North Coast Cruiserweight title holder.
South Grafton boxing stalwart Eddie Debono is searching for a swansong final bout against Woodburn's Tyler White for the Super Heavyweight title.
"These titles have not been fought for in a few years so it is good to get them back on the circuit to bring some excitement to the night," Cribb said.
"Everyone is putting in some real hard yards in the gym to get ready for this."
Grafton junior fighter James Morrison will also be on the card for his first fight alongside fellow club members Joseph Pigg and Jamie Mansfield.
Tickets can be purchased from the Grafton Amateur Boxing Club at Grafton Showground from 4pm every afternoon from Monday to Thursday next week and will also be available on the door at the CRJC with gates opening at 2pm next Saturday.
Single entry is $20 while corporate tables of eight are available at $120 per head.