Ever since Thomas Speirs punched his way to a silver medal at last year's senior national boxing championships, he has had a tough time finding someone who wants to step into the ring with him.
The lack of action has been frustrating for the 22-year-old member of the Spruce Capital Boxing Club. But, he had reason to smile -- and celebrate -- when he was recently named Boxing B.C.'s senior athlete of the year for 2012.
Speirs was recognized for a year in which he posted a 9-2 record, including a 3-1 mark at nationals in Nova Scotia. In the bout for gold in the 178-pound division, he lost to defending champion Jonathan Savard of Quebec. Savard, a lanky southpaw, has a long list of international victories and was on the cusp of representing Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
"I'm very pleased for Thomas," Spruce Capital coach Wayne Sponagle said in reference to his pupil's prestigious award. "He's very dedicated and works very hard. He loves the sport of boxing and it's extra rewarding because he's only been boxing five years and was nominated ahead of guys who have been boxing for 10 to 12 years. I'm very happy for him and I feel he totally deserves it after the performance he put on at nationals last year."
At those Canadian championships, Speirs earned victories against Stephen MacGillvary of Alberta, Dana Hassan of Ontario and Andrew Gardiner of Manitoba. At the time, Gardiner was a member of the national 'B' team.
For Speirs, the Boxing B.C. award ranks just as high as the national silver.
"It feels good because of all the hard work I put in last year," he said.
"With all the good fighters we have in B.C., being voted No. 1 means a lot."
Speirs' success inside the ropes comes from the fact he can brawl or box. If he has to throw bombs, he will. If he needs to take a more scientific approach and pick apart an opponent, he can. In his career, he has used his talents to build an impressive 34-7 record.
"Thomas has been trained to fight all different ways," Sponagle said. "He's very, very skilled. Right now, he thinks he can't be hurt and that worries me a little bit. He's really tough."
Speirs has only had one bout -- a victory against a Kamloops fighter -- since that tilt against Savard last January. Sponagle is working on getting Speirs back into the ring in the near future.