BEN Smith is a national champion for the second time.
The High Wycombe Boxing Club star was crowned National U60kg Youth Boxing Champion at a high-calibre finals day in Manchester on Saturday, when the Sky Sports cameras captured the best action of 20 national bouts.
He beat John Ruddick from Birtley in the North East with a unanimous points decision to take the crown.
Having been beaten in two previous finals, the victory was hugely significant for Smith in his final year as a junior.
But it wasn’t easy. Ruddick has won tournaments nationally and internationally, while Smith’s season has been disrupted by a back injury that ruled him out of an England training camp and also prevented him from defending his NABC title.
However, he has come back even better and booked his place in the final with what his coach John MacInnes described as his best ever display in the semi-finals.
MacInnes said: “This year was a big year for Ben in the Youth Championships as it was a title that had slipped away in two previous finals and this was his last year as a junior before he makes the step up to the senior elite ranks.
“He has dedicated himself to the sport after suffering a back injury earlier in the season so it was case of easing back into his training and staying motivated.
“But his performance in the final was a very disciplined one and he stuck to game plan perfectly, staying patient and using his speed to catch Ruddick and move before he could react.
“We had done our homework on John and knew that he was to be respected but I never doubted that Ben would win this year.
“His step up from U54kg to the U60kg was a big jump but the support from our top nutritionist James Driscoll and strength and conditioning coach Roger Moore has helped Ben maintain his power and speed.
“Hopefully now this win brings more international duty before we sit down and plan our preparation for the challenge of senior boxing.”