Ridge boxers fight at nationals

The Maple Ridge Boxing Club sent four fighters to the national championships, in Regina, and one returned with a medal

The Maple Ridge Boxing Club sent four fighters to the national championships, in Regina, Sask. last week, and one came back with a silver medal.

Sara Haghighat Joo, a Coquitlam girl who fights out of the Ridge club, won her first bout against Amanda Galle of Ontario, and won a close contest by a 2-1 split decision.

That moved her on to the finals on Friday night, where she found the reigning Canadian champion Mandy Bujold. Haghighat Joo fought well, but the speed and experience of Bujold was too much for her, and the champ beat her by unanimous decision.

Haghighat Joo was in her first appearance at the nationals, and was fighting on an injured foot, so the silver medal was considered a good result by the club.

“The club and coaching team are very proud of our boxers, for their best efforts put forth,” said club spokesperson Carol Skanks.

It was a unique national championship, because for the first time in three decades the male boxers were competing without headgear – it is no longer allowed in national or international competition. Female boxers kept them on.

The rationale is that headgear does little to prevent concussions, and that boxers will “take more risks” with headgear on. The International Olympic Committee is considering banning headgear for the 2016 Games.

Maple Ridge’s Dylan Bishop, a former bronze medallist, took on Zsolti Daranyi in the 64 kg weight class. Bishop lost by technical knockout and was eliminated.

Connor Rankin has been battling a serious injury to his right hand that he suffered in the Canadian Golden Gloves event, held in Cornwall, Ontario in July.

Rankin continued to train for the nationals, but was only able to punch with his left hand in training.

His opponent in the 55kg division was Manitoban Julio Jr. Escoria, and Rankin lost by unanimous decision.

Sasan Haghighat Joo, the brother of silver medallist Sara, fought Albertan Devon Retti in the 69 kg weight class, and despite a good effort lost a 2-1 split decision.

It was a tough defeat, given that Sasan had beaten Retti in a bout earlier in the year.

“Now we look forward to the National Team Selections box offs in November,” said Skanks. “Onwards and Upwards team.”