Dale Evans came agonisingly close to claiming the first Prizefighter trophy of 2013 on Saturday night, as he was narrowly beaten in the final of welterweights III at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
But the defeat failed to mask a superb display from the 21-year-old, who beat Sam Eggington and pretournament favourite Mark Thompson en-route to the final, before falling to Sunderland’s Glenn Foot.
The event was shown live on Sky Sports and Dale, who entered the event with a professional record of four wins and a draw, admitted the coverage made him both nervous and excited.
“It is something I have never experienced before,”
“We had a television in our changing room so we could follow the other fights.
“But when I was boxing myself it didn’t really sink in that thousands of people were watching.”
Dale was cornered by coach Graham Brockway and manager Gary Lockett, and came through a thrilling quarter-final contest with Eggington. The local youngster withstood some early punishment from the St Clears man, before fighting back in the latter stages.
But Dale took the verdict on points, setting up a semifinal with pre-event favourite Mark Thompson.
However, Dale performed brilliantly to outbox the veteran, and enjoyed a unanimous decision.
“I knew he’d had 23 wins from 25 fights, with 15 knockouts, so I had to match him for power,” he said.
“I managed to keep a tight guard and work on the jab.
“Gary and Graham were constantly shouting instructions from the corner, and I stuck to the plan and came out on top.”
The win meant he faced a final against Foot, who like Dale, entered the bout unbeaten in his professional career.
Unfortunately, it was the Sunderland man who edged a split decision.
“I thought I’d just done enough to get the verdict,”
“But it went his way and that’s boxing.”
The defeat meant Dale missed out on the £32,000 prize, but still received £16,000 for finishing runner-up.
“I’m obviously gutted to have lost the final but I’m also proud of what I’ve done.
“A few months ago I would never have imagined I’d be reaching a Prizefighter final.”
Dale began boxing when he was just nine-years-old, and began training with Brockway in the Merlins Bridge Boxing Gym when he was 13.
He continues to train there every week, as well as sessions with Lockett in Llantrisant.
“I thought Dale was amazing," said Brockway.
“To fight as well as he did at that level was incredible.
“I felt that Dale had done enough to win the final, but he narrowly missed out.
“But his performance on the night has put him in the shop window, and I believe he can now go onto bigger and better things.”
Dale himself was full of praise for both Brockway and Lockett.
“Graham is a fantastic coach and is really supportive of me,” he said.
“Gary has also been excellent as manager and having both their input has worked brilliantly.
“They’ve got me to where I am.”
Dale, who has played football this year in the Pembrokeshire league for St Clears, said he was pleased with his style on the night after watching the recording.
“I’m improving and I’m hoping this is going to lead to more big opportunities for me.”
To his credit, he was back in work at Nolan Windows in Carmarthen on Monday morning, but admits he’ll be taking this week off training