EMERALD fighter Matt Grant feared little when he took to the ring in Cessnock at the weekend, facing an opponent who had his measure in both weight and experience.
Boxing out of Fighters Inc gym in Emerald, Grant's 64kg frame was forced to somehow match his opponent, Manyang Dut - a NSW state champion - in the 67kg division.
"It's the hardest I've seen Matt dig his heels in," trainer Blair Wilson said.
"It forced him to bring his skills out."
The talented teen lost on a split points decision, but gained plenty of admiration from his trainer, who predicted a promising result at the upcoming Australian Junior Titles, despite the recent setback.
"This other guy was older as well as heavier," Wilson said.
"If it had gone for another round, I'd say Matt would have beaten him.
"I'm not predicting anything, but I can't see him (Matt) losing the (Australian) title."
Sparring partner and fellow Fighters Inc boxer Sean Sweeny fired in the closing rounds of his 63kg bout in Cessnock, to win on a unanimous points decision.
"I thought he (Sean) was going to stop him in the third," Wilson said.
After losing the opening round, Wilson said it was a case of now or never for Sweeny to take control.
"I said, 'you can't afford to lose another round'," he said.
The blunt appraisal worked wonders, with the youngster taking the front foot for the remainder of the match.
"He came home really strong," Wilson said.
"The other bloke was going backwards and he just kept at him."
Both Emerald bouts were on the under card to the main event, between Super Middleweight fighter Ben Crampton and Jamed Jalarante.
Crampton, who was making his return to the ring after a two-year lay-off, was until three months ago under the guidance of Wilson in Emerald.
"He was training up here with me for about nine months," Wilson said.
"This was his comeback fight."
The cable technician made a temporary move to Central Queensland for work purposes and joined forces with Wilson to continue his training.
Crampton won by TKO just one minute into the first round and has now set his sights on challenging Shannon 'The Bulli Blaster' Taylor for the World Boxing Federation divisional title belt.
"I reckon he can beat him," Wilson said.
Wilson's amateur fighters will head south for the Australian Junior Titles on November 24-26, before backing up for the Emerald fight night scheduled for December 10.
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