Matt Bozeat lists the Bri­tish and Ir­ish fight­ers – with 10 fights or fewer to their name – to look out for in the 2017/18 sea­son

Boxing News - - Contents -

We take a close look at some of the young tal­ents of UK and Ir­ish box­ing


COM­MON­WEALTH SU­PERLIGHTWEIGHT CHAM­PION From: Ed­in­burgh | Age: 26 | Record: 10-0 (9) AF­TER the south­paw dis­man­tled Ohara Davies in seven rounds in July with his slick box-fight­ing skills, Barry Mcguigan and Cy­clone Pro­mo­tions said that they wanted an all-scot­tish clash with for­mer three­weight world cham­pion Ricky Burns next for Tay­lor, fol­lowed by an as­sault on a world ti­tle.

Tay­lor-burns would ar­guably be the big­gest do­mes­tic dust-up in Scot­land since Jim Watt-ken Buchanan in 1973, but Mcguigan has been quick to point out that “there are other big fights out there for Josh.”

Be­cause of his qual­ity am­a­teur pedi­gree, Tay­lor has been moved quickly in the pros, stop­ping the tough and ex­pe­ri­enced Dave “Rocky” Ryan in only his sev­enth out­ing to cap­ture the va­cant Com­mon­wealth belt. De­spite suf­fer­ing a cut in his first ti­tle de­fence – against War­ren Jou­bert – Tay­lor out­classed the South African and halted him in the sixth, be­fore beat­ing Davies in all de­part­ments in his most re­cent ap­pear­ance.


WEL­TER­WEIGHT From: Sun­der­land | Age: 23 | Record: 3-0 (2) TRAINER Adam Booth rates Kelly as the best tal­ent he has worked with, and look­ing at his coach­ing CV, that’s a huge com­pli­ment. Josh gave a jaw-drop­ping ex­hi­bi­tion of his abil­i­ties against Tom Whit­field in June. He stood in front of his North East ri­val with his hands by his sides, made him miss, then blasted him out of the fight with a rat-a-tat vol­ley of left hooks.

Pro­moter Ed­die Hearn has said that Kelly “should win the Bri­tish ti­tle, given what he achieved in the amateurs,” although he will surely have to make ad­just­ments as he goes up the lev­els.

In the un­paid ranks, it seemed for a while that Kelly may give up on box­ing. He drifted away from the gym af­ter pick­ing up a hand in­jury in 2015, and bal­looned up to 81kgs, be­fore mo­ti­vat­ing him­self and qual­i­fy­ing for the Rio Olympics last year.


BRI­TISH FLY­WEIGHT CHAM­PION From: Barry | Age: 28 | Record: 9-0 (5) MANAGER Jamie Sani­gar has said that the Welsh­man has “Va­syl Lo­machenko’s feet and Naseem Hamed’s power.” While that’s an ex­ag­ger­a­tion, he’s none­the­less a big tal­ent, and his points win over Cristofer Ros­ales in May was hugely en­ter­tain­ing.

Down in the first, Selby boxed well un­der pres­sure to win unan­i­mously over 12 rounds. That vic­tory put him at No. 3 in the WBC rank­ings, but trav­el­ling to Ja­pan to take on KO spe­cial­ist and reign­ing WBC fly­weight king Daigo Higa doesn’t ap­pear to be an op­tion. Sani­gar has stated that “there’s no rush to fight for world ti­tles. We want to make sure An­drew is fully pre­pared be­fore he steps up.”

Selby can go look­ing for lu­cra­tive fights at fly­weight, su­per-fly­weight and pos­si­bly even ban­tamweight. Per­haps the big­gest bout out there for him is against an old foe from his fruit­ful am­a­teur days – Birm­ing­ham’s cur­rent WBA su­per-fly cham­pion Kal Yafai.


MID­LANDS AREA SU­PER­FEATH­ER­WEIGHT CHAM­PION From: Le­ices­ter | Age: 24 | Record: 9-0 (5) PRO­MOTER Frank War­ren is look­ing to push Wood­stock on af­ter he won the va­cant Mid­lands Area strap with a third-round stop­page of Paul Holt in April. An in­trigu­ing matchup with Mitchell Smith could be in the off­ing af­ter their re­cent so­cial me­dia spat, though with Smith cur­rently out in­jured, that fight may have to wait un­til next year.

Wood­stock is a big su­per-feather, and seems des­tined to move up to light­weight in the fu­ture. As an am­a­teur, he was an out-and-out puncher who just wanted to get close and hook away, but he’s since grown a cou­ple of inches, and now ad­mits: “My jab is my best friend.”

De­spite only hav­ing 25 am­a­teur bouts with Le­ices­ter Unity ABC un­der fa­ther-fig­ure Aj­mal “Hudge” Butt, Lyon reached the Elite semi-finals in 2014, be­fore turn­ing pro. He has been learn­ing in the gym since, spar­ring the likes of Terry Flana­gan and Kid Gala­had.


FLY­WEIGHT From: Leeds | Age: 34 | Record: 2-0 (1) WITH pro­fes­sion­als now able to com­pete in Olympic events, the whis­per is that Ni­cola Adams wants an­other gold medal, which would in­cred­i­bly be her third, af­ter

★ mem­o­rable suc­cesses at both the 2012 and 2016 Games. Dur­ing her truly re­mark­able am­a­teur ca­reer, Adams’ medal haul also in­cluded golds at the Worlds, Euro­peans and Com­mon­wealths.

In 2020 – the year of the next Olympics – Adams will be 37 years old, and will surely have fought at world level as a pro by then. Pro­moter Frank War­ren has said that a world ti­tle chal­lenge could hap­pen by the end of the year for the ever-smil­ing Adams, pos­si­bly against Mex­ico’s WBO cham­pion Mon­ser­rat Alar­con.

Due to her vast am­a­teur ex­pe­ri­ence, the ba­sics and en­gine are there al­ready for Adams, and un­der es­teemed coach Vir­gil Hunter, she ap­pears to have added slickness and spite to her al­ready-im­pres­sive box­ing skills.


CRUIS­ER­WEIGHT From: Hack­ney | Age: 24 | Record: 4-0 (4) SO far in the pros, all the 6ft 5in Okolie has needed is his big punch. He takes risks to land it, but is happy to be a gun­slinger. “I’ve got un­der­rated skills,” he says, “but when I have those small gloves on, I want to go in there and get them be­fore they get me.”

Okolie is keen to jump up to South­ern Area level soon fol­low­ing his fourth straight one-round win, over Russ Hen­shaw in July. Okolie took up box­ing at 16, and in only his 16th am­a­teur bout, he beat sea­soned Amer­i­can Cam Awesome in the World Se­ries of Box­ing.

An im­por­tant learn­ing curve for Okolie came when he was stopped by the great Felix Savon in the WSB fi­nal in 2016. Okolie met Savon again in last sum­mer’s Olympics – he had his mo­ments be­fore los­ing on points. He now has am­bi­tions to be Bri­tain’s best ever cruis­er­weight.


FEATH­ER­WEIGHT From: Southamp­ton | Age: 19 | Record: 6-0 (5) MANAGER Frank Hop­kins has worked cor­ners for around three decades, and ac­cord­ing to him, Gar­ner has bags of po­ten­tial: “There isn’t an­other 19-year-old in the coun­try who can spar peo­ple like Carl Framp­ton, Ryan Bur­nett and Josh War­ring­ton and hold their own.”

Gar­ner has won five of his first six fights in­side the dis­tance. He says: “My style has al­ways been ag­gres­sive. I like to stay on peo­ple’s chest, but I can box as well. I’ve fought Rus­sians and Cubans in the amateurs who you can’t knock out, and I’ve had to get on the back foot. I can adapt.”

As an am­a­teur, Gar­ner – who oozes a quiet con­fi­dence – won Euro­pean Ju­nior gold in 2013, and also reached the last eight at the World Ju­nior cham­pi­onships. He first went to the gym at 10 years old. “I was al­ways fight­ing my two big­ger brothers,” he remembers, “and al­ways get­ting beaten up!”


LIGHT­WEIGHT From: Bray | Age: 31 | Record: 6-0 (4) PRO­MOTER Ed­die Hearn has plans to turn Tay­lor into “a global star.” Katie took a step closer to achiev­ing that by thrash­ing Jas­mine Clark­son on the Mikey Gar­cia-adrien Broner un­der­card in Brook­lyn in July. Even be­fore she turned pro in Novem­ber, Tay­lor’s im­pact on fe­male box­ing was huge. She won Olympic gold in 2012 to add to her five World cham­pi­onship wins, and in the pros, her op­po­nents reg­u­larly re­fer to her as an in­spi­ra­tion. Hearn’s eyes light up at the men­tion of Tay­lor: “Tech­ni­cally, she is as good as you will see. Ev­ery­one who has watched her has been flab­ber­gasted.” Fur­ther down the line, there’s a pos­si­ble do­mes­tic ri­valry with Chantelle Cameron, who’s had back-to-back wins as a pro. There’s his­tory be­tween them too, as Tay­lor won on points when they met in the semi-finals of the EU cham­pi­onships in 2011.


HEAVY­WEIGHT From: Green­wich | Age: 19 | Record: 4-0 (4) DUBOIS said when he turned pro that he wanted to win ev­ery ti­tle pos­si­ble, and in only his fourth fight he cap­tured the va­cant WBC Youth belt with a sec­ond-round knock­out of Mauri­cio Bar­ra­gan last month.

Dubois will be fan­cied to col­lect the va­cant South­ern Area strap on Septem­ber 16 on the un­der­card of Billy Joe Saun­ders-wil­lie Mon­roe Jnr. Dubois meets AJ Carter next month. Of Carter’s three de­feats, two have come via KO or stop­page.

Trainer Martin Bow­ers ad­mits that Dubois has plenty to im­prove on, but pro­moter Frank War­ren looks keen to move him fast. War­ren ap­proached Gary Cor­nish – who faces Sam Sex­ton for the va­cant Bri­tish crown in Oc­to­ber – and says he is ready to chal­lenge the Board’s rul­ing that fight­ers have to be at least 21 years old to com­pete for the Bri­tish ti­tle.



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