It took four months of intense training, six days a week including sparring at a boxing club every Saturday night, but the hard work paid off for Geoff Bate and James Wark.
On Saturday, Oct. 24, the Whistler residents headed to Griffins Boxing in North Vancouver, their sparring club, to take part in their first Boxing B.C.- sanctioned bouts.
It couldn't have gone much better for either fighter. Wark won his match early in the second round by a technical knock-out (TKO) while Bate won the scoring in all three rounds to take his match by a unanimous decision. Neither boxer knew their opponent or what to expect, but used a combination of tactics and fitness to come out ahead.
"I went second after James, so I was a little anxious to get out and fight," said Bate. "It was pretty fun. It was a really good show that the Griffins put on, and my friends came up from the city to cheer me on, which really helped."
Bate said he only took one good punch during the match, as well as an elbow off a poorly-thrown punch.
"He really didn't get too many off on me," he said. "I chased him around the ring for a good three rounds.
"There was really no game plan, no particular set of tactics. The guy trained in a really traditional Russian style so I came in more with a double jab and straight right, and tried to utilize a lot of shuffling left and a lot of left hooks. I also had to try to get him in the corner and keep him there, he was really elusive and when he got into a corner he could get out really quick."
Bate is looking forward to his next match up, which could be in the next three weeks. He wants to drop another weight division for that fight to see how he feels in the 70 kg (155 pound) class.
That means more work on conditioning and technical skills with coach Sasha Gier, and more Saturday nights sparring at Griffins.
"I feel like I'm in the best shape I've ever been, cardio-wise, and conditioning has been great. We work pretty hard on training all week and it comes in pretty handy in the ring."
Earlier in the evening Wark battled a tall fighter with a long reach, and almost immediately took charge of the fight. Just past the halfway mark in the first round he landed a solid right that prompted the referee to step in and give his opponent an eight count. Soon after the bell went, and Wark came out hard again. After landing a flurry of face shots the referee stepped in and called the match with a TKO.