Jack Hillier’s brave bid to win the national youth bantamweight title ended with a semi-final defeat to favourite and eventual winner Bradley Strand.

Southampton ABC fighter Hillier made it through to the quarter-finals as he defeated Jordan Batell (Blackrod ABC) by a split decision.

Next up was Strand who was a three time national champion coming in to the tournament and had not been beaten in three years.

However, Hillier gave him one heck of a contest.

In the first round the two sized each other up and Hillier was trying to counter Strand’s dangerous right hand but found him just too sharp.

There was a change of tactics for the second as Hillier’s corner sent him on the front foot, telling him to stay on Strand and knock him out of his rhythm.

It produced a much better round for Hillier but Strand’s experience told and he nicked the round, meaning Hillier needed to force a stoppage.

He tried the same tactics in the final round, hurting Strand a couple of times with some great right hands to body and head.

Hillier took the round but couldn’t get the stoppage he needed, his opponent going on to win the title the next day.

Southampton ABC head coach Gary White said: “Jack could not have done any more. He gave it everything he possibly had and we couldn’t have been more proud of him.

“Of course he wanted to win but there’s no shame in losing to a kid of Strand’s quality.

“We were hoping to catch him on an off day but we didn’t and Strand said after Jack’s the best kid he’s come up against in years which was a huge compliment for him.

“He may not have come away with the title this time but the way he’s improving we are sure of good times ahead.

“The biggest bonus for Jack was the England youth head coach Paul Bennett watched him over both days and was very impressed with him.

“Jack’s been invited him to an England training camp in two week’s time and that’s the least he deserves after a fantastic effort.

“He is a smashing lad and a credit to the sport of boxing.”