Makoko has gained valuable experience from Haringey Box Cup, says Willmott

Haringey Police ABC boxer Steven Makoko has gained valuable experience after winning a silver medal at the Haringey Box Cup, according to the club’s founder and coach Gerry Willmott MBE.

Makoko was competing in his first tournament at Alexandra Palace, where 500 male and female fighters battled for honours in five rings over three days, taking part in Europe’s largest open boxing tournament.

However, the Haringey lightweight beat Legacy ABC’s Jake Abraham 2-1 in his senior 60kg semi-final, before losing 3-0 to St Pancras’ Jernair Thompson in the final.

“He’s definitely learned a lot from it,” said Willmott. “That was his first big event where he had to make the weight over three days, which is hard, but that’s what you have to do in tournaments. It was by far the most spectators he’s fought in front of too.

“He’s very inexperienced. The semi-final was only his fourth fight and the kid that beat him has had about 20 fights and has been in the gym for about 10 years, so he was up against it – but he didn’t disgrace himself.

“He hung in there and did really well. I would have been more surprised if he’d won and we’re pleased with him.”

Haringey captain Kingsley Okolie was forced to pull out of the tournament just before his fight after suffering a recurrence of a long-term hand injury during the warm-up – and Candice Ayrey lost 3-0 to Natalie Gyte (Broad Street) in her 60kg semi-final bout.

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Numan Hussain was also defeated in his first contest, the 69kg quarter-final – although he won the first round against Dennis Daglis (West Ham Boys).

“Numan’s come from a white collar background so that was his first proper amateur fight, and unfortunately his white collar bouts still count as bouts of combat so he had to go in a higher group,” said Willmott.

“But that did him the world of good as well because now he’s found out what it’s all about. He knows what he’s got to do next year, and when the season starts in September.

“He won the first round and then he just slowed down a bit and took it a bit easier, whereas the other fella came on a bit stronger.”