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Commonwealth Games 2002
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Boxing Monday, 29 July, 2002, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Bell raises England spirits
England captain Steven Bell
England captain Steven Bell made progress

England captain Steven Bell paid tribute to his team's spirit after a resounding second-round win over Trinidad's Devon Jones.

Bell made it into the quarter-finals of the featherweight competition with a comprehensive 26-11 win.

open quote
It is the best team I've ever been involved in
end quote
Steven Bell,
England captain
And he later insisted that the controversial withdrawal of heavyweight David Haye had not affected team morale.

"I feel like I've gained 11 brothers here," said Bell.

"We've all been living in each other's pockets for so long and they were all here shouting their heads off for me.

"It is the best team I've ever been involved in.

"All my friends and family were here as well and it's been fantastic.

"I couldn't wait to get into the ring after three days just watching and now I can't wait for my quarter-final."

Liverpool light-middleweight Paul Smith also went through with a third-round stoppage of Foster Nkodo of Cameroon.

Earlier, Steven Birch began his middleweight campaign in style with a 32-21 win over Northern Ireland's Conall Carmichael.

The 20-year-old from St Helens picked up the pace in the second round with two left hooks as Carmichael struggled to find his range.

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I can't wait to fight Birch because he is the man to beat
end quote
Stevie McGuire
And Birch kept up the momentum against an unfamiliar opponent.

"I'm quite pleased but I haven't boxed for four or five months because of my preparations, so I was nowhere near 100% - I would say about 70," said Birch.

"I didn't know much about him and it took a while to get used to him. It was great boxing in front of my friends and family in such a big event.

"I've boxed in the European juniors before but that was not half as big as this is."

The next opponent for Birch is Scotland's Stevie McGuire, who finished off Trinidad's Simeon Prince with 24 seconds left in the third round.

And McGuire is expecting a close battle with the winner guaranteed a medal.

"I can't wait to fight Birch because he is the man to beat," said the Scot. "Both our styles are similar so it should be a great fight."

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