A Bexhill Amateur Boxing Club senior talent produced a superb performance in the ABA Championships.
Steve Garlick was beaten on a close unanimous points decision by Iman Zahmatkesh, a very tough Iranian boxer from the Heart of Portsmouth club, in the southern counties round at Turners Academy, Surrey.
But the 32-year-old excelled himself with a performance to be proud of and could even have won a match he was a heavy underdog for.
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Garlick has been out of the ring for two-and-a-half years following a back operation. Although he’s slimmed down from 106 kilos when he returned to the gym last autumn to 91 kilos, he still wasn’t 100 percent fit.
Given all that, as well as the fact that Garlick has been trying to adapt to a ‘box and move’ style and has had a lack of sparring partners to work with, his coach Terry Freeman was sceptical about him facing an opponent who’s well-known and quite feared on the circuit.
Garlick’s enthusiasm to get back in the ring, however, was such that he was up for the challenge of taking on Zahmatkesh, who has won more than three-quarters of his bouts and has sparred with up-and-coming world title contenders in the professional ranks.
Despite the odds being stacked against him, Garlick was excellent and in the words of his coach, ‘made a very good, tough fighter look ordinary’.
Garlick probably nicked the first round through boxing and moving, but a very fit and determined Zahmatkesh edged the second and won the third as Garlick tired.
Freeman said: “I’m extremely proud of him and he could’ve won it. A bit of ring rust and fitness were the only factors in him losing the bout.
“He was catching Iman with some good shots, as well as taking some good shots himself. He covered up very well against a fighter who likes to come forward and land big shots.”