Pictures by Mark Robinson

Nottinghamshire boxer Chad ‘Slick’ Sugden’s stock went through the roof last weekend after an outstanding performance on the card of the Matchroom Boxing NXTGEN show which was broadcast live on Sky Sports from the famous York Hall in Bethnal Green.

On Thursday 19 December, the Suggy’s Gym professional went head to head  with the home favourite Craig ‘The Spider’ Richards in an eight round contest which saw Chad taking the leading domestic Light Heavyweight to the wire and getting a draw.

“From the minute we got the call, we knew this had all the makings of a game-changing opportunity for Chad,” said Suggy’s Gym head coach Dean Sugden. “And although we had just one week’s notice and virtually no sparring for Chad in his training camp as he was protecting a nose injury, he did what he always does and stepped up to the challenge, showing all the will, skill and determination he’s known for both in and out of the ring.

“And what a fight it was, definitely the fight of the night. To go out and deliver such a performance under the circumstances, given the preparation or lack of it, speaks volumes not just about his ability but also his character.”

In a cautious first round where both men were feeling each other out, Chad used his slick boxing to make Craig miss and, definitely the busier of the two boxers, could have slightly edged this one.

Round two saw Craig land one of his best punches of the night, an overhand right which caused some damage to the nose Chad had been looking after in his training camp following a sparring session with Billy Joe Saunders. Despite this, the Nottinghamshire boxer stayed composed and unflustered, out-boxing his opponent for the majority of the round but looking bloodied when he returned to the corner.

With both men exchanging good punches in the third and neither one giving ground, it was difficult to split them in this one. And the next few rounds were equally close, with Craig looking for the big shot and Chad happy to out-box and out-work the current WBA Continental champion.

Going into the seventh with the fight in the balance, it was hard to predict how the referee and judge would score it. But having saved his big push for the last two rounds, 2 Slick left his opponent wobbled and reeling again  as he ferociously attacked body and head. Although Craig tried to respond, the Newarker clearly had the better of these exchanges and many of the crowd ringside thought that if there had been another couple of rounds Chad would have stopped him.

After eight rounds of action the referee could not split the contest and announced a draw, scoring it 77-77 and leaving both boxers disappointed not to get their hand raised. “With Craig ranked number 12 in the world with the WBA and only four weeks away from his British Light Heavyweight title fight against Shakan Pitters and Chad taking the fight at just one week’s notice, this performance and the result were recognition of Chad’s potential,” added Dean.

“It’s a shame the original offer to fight Craig for his WBA Continental title wasn’t on the line – with an extra two rounds we would have stopped him and secured the victory. But we’re delighted to have finished the year with a fight that has put us back into the top 10 Light Heavyweights in the country.

“Everyone at Matchroom and Sky Sports was buzzing about Chad and his skills. Without a doubt, he made himself known to the world of boxing in one fight and he’s already called out all the Super Middleweights and Light Heavyweights above him. After Thursday night’s performance, they might not be so keen on the idea but we’re looking forward to boxing on Matchroom again very soon and to an exciting year ahead not just for Chad but also for Suggy’s Gym.”

Speaking after the fight, Chad said: “This has been a great year for me but ending it on a high like this, showcasing my skills at York Hall live on Sky Sports TV – could it possibly get any better?

“It’s difficult to tell on the night when you’re exchanging punches but, after watching it back, I thought I edged it. And one thing’s for sure, I enjoyed every minute and would love to do it again on more Matchroom shows.

“Thanks to Matchroom Boxing for picking me out at the last minute, to all my sponsors and to my whole team. And thanks as well to the 50 fans who travelled down from Newark at such short notice to support me and to everyone who tuned in to watch the live broadcast. I hope I did you all proud on the night.

“Now for some well-deserved time off to recover over Christmas and the New Year and then come back with a bang in 2020.”

Pictures by Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing

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