It was the “battle of the best” in more ways than one at North Van’s Griffins Boxing Club Nov. 27.
Clayton Heights’ Saul Aspinall and Chilliwack’s Sonny Meredith battled for the best in B.C. in the provincial championship final. And they also battled their best friend—each other.
Dale Gatin, head coach for Abbotsford-Mission Boxing Club (AMBC), said Aspinall (15) and Meredith (14) have boxed at his gym for the past year or so and the kids have become close friends.
“They’ve done about 50 rounds or more of sparring,” said Gatin. “So they know each other very well.”
He said although Meredith lives in Chilliwack and fights out of the Diamond Boxing Club in that city, when Meredith first moved to the Fraser Valley from Calgary, his family trained out of the AMBC for about a year. (Meredith has three siblings that also box.)
“They are both great fighters,” added Gatin. “They both showed excellent boxing skills in the ring that night.”
The battle of best friends was for provincial gold in the Junior C, 125-pound weight class, which is equivalent to featherweight. The three-round bout consisted of two-minute rounds.
“It was a good, close match, very technical,” said Gatin. “They put on a good show for the fans with Sonny ultimately taking the gold.”
He said both boxers threw great combinations during the fight and put together great footwork.
The Junior C fighters both qualify for nationals in Montreal next March as both gold and silver provincial medalists earned an invite to compete with the best in Canada.
Best friends Saul Aspinall (red trunks) and Sonny Meredith (blue trunks) battle for a provincial gold medal. See https://t.co/cV4XqgS5Kt for the full story. Aspinall, from Clayton Heights, has been boxing since he was 12. pic.twitter.com/cNNwwCYF8l— Cloverdale Reporter (@CloverdaleNews) December 2, 2022
Last year Aspinall won a provincial bronze medal as a novice. This year, he fought in 10 bouts, attaining the status of “open boxer.” That status allows him to fight in provincial finals, which in turn offers the opportunity to qualify for nationals.
“It’s very rare for a first-time open boxer to win a silver medal at provincials,” noted Gatin. “He deserves it. He’s worked very hard.”
Aspinall’s been boxing out the MABC for about three years.
“Since Saul’s been coming to the club, he’s grown a lot as a boxer,” said Gatin. “He’s one of those kids that really wants to learn. And that’s encouraging to a coach, because it shows how eager he is, but it also shows how committed he is.”
Gatin said Aspinall is a good athlete and excelled at other sports before he took up boxing.
“Saul used to play soccer, his dad is a soccer coach, so he grew up playing soccer,” Gatin explained. “But he decided when he turned 12 that he wanted to do something else and he chose boxing.”
Gatin added it’s a “real joy” to coach Aspinall.
“He wants to learn. He asks questions. He’s enthusiastic,” Gatin said. “And he trains six days a week. He just loves boxing so much.”