Sport

McKechnie crowned after surviving ring war

Grafton boxer Sam McKechnie parries away a punch from opponent Mark Fitzgerald during the JCN Energy Grafton Fight Night at the Grafton Racecourse.
Grafton boxer Sam McKechnie parries away a punch from opponent Mark Fitzgerald during the JCN Energy Grafton Fight Night at the Grafton Racecourse. Matthew Elkerton

AFTER six minutes in the ring Sam McKechnie was exhausted.

The Grafton Amateur Boxing club fighter could barely lift his fists to block in the final but despite it all he just kept punching.

While McKechnie drew first blood against opponent Mark Fitzgerald, by the end of the fight both boxers had spilt claret on the canvas.

It was a war in the ring but after the three rounds McKechnie had his hand raised due to unanimous decision, picking up the Clarence Coast Light Heavyweight title belt.

For coach Dean Cribb it was the perfect way to kick start an amateur career.

"Those fighters will definitely have to match up again,” Cribb said.

"It was an awesome fight, it was a war between the ropes.

"What a great win for Sam and he is only going to get better from here.

"He was throwing so much power but by the end of it his arms were just dead.

"But that's just about punch fitness and he will grow in that as he keeps fighting more often.

"Sam stood tall in the ring and did himself and his family proud.”

McKechnie was the only local fighter to win on the night after super heavy- weights Brenden Cotten and Broe Reti were on the losing end of judges' decisions.

Cotten struggled to match the power and aggression of Coffs Harbour boxer Michael Spence, and Reti was unable to overcome the skill of Newcastle's Jack Maris.

Maris was quick to hone in on Reti's ribs which were broken in a previous bout only three months ago and the mental toll it took on the Grafton fighter was obvious.

"You could tell he was worried about the ribs,” Cribb said.

"He kept charging at the other bloke and going off

his feet.

"We will just go back to the gym and try and settle it down and then come back better next time.”

Grafton junior James Morrison also stepped into the ring for an exhibition bout against Casino fighter Noah Lazarago.

Despite fighters pulling out on the day and two of his own missing out on action, Cribb said he was still proud of the 11-fight card that was put on for a spirited crowd.

"It went down quite well in the end I think,” he said.

"Dennis Magnay, one of the top blokes in league boxing, said it was the biggest fight night he had seen in the region which has to suggest we are doing something right.

"It was a shame a few of the Sydney blokes couldn't make it and some other fighters pulled out on the day but that is just boxing.”

Cribb said the club would definitely be back with more live fights next year, if not earlier, and will aim to take fighters to the national titles in Victoria later this year.