Josh: I can be king of the ring

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT -

BOX­ING JOSH Burn­ham is gear­ing up for the ad­ven­ture of a life­time ahead of his first pro­fes­sional fight, and he ad­mits he does not know where the jour­ney will end.

The chis­elled mid­dleweight, who is 22 and from Bushey, says he feels men­tally and phys­i­cally pre­pared for the chal­lenges that lie ahead, with the bout in Chig­well only days away.

“Train­ing has gone well and I feel ready,” said Burn­ham, who is also a per­sonal trainer.

“I’ve been wait­ing for this op­por­tu­nity for a while now, work­ing hard in the gym twice a day, six times a week.”

Burn­ham took up the sport aged 12, en­cour­aged by his father, an avid boxer and kick­boxer. “My dad taught me how to box, but I never had to use it,” he said.

“I was al­ways the small­est at school, al­though I was never bul­lied. It was dur­ing an FZY tour to Is­rael that I shot up in height, aged 16.” He has never looked back.

Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful am­a­teur ca­reer, Burn­ham, a for­mer un­der-16 Ju­nior na­tional light mid­dleweight cham­pion, is de­ter­mined to put on a good per­for­mance against a yet-to-be­named op­po­nent.

He has been spar­ring with Ge­orge Groves and Miles Shinkwin, un­der the tute­lage of trainer Ja­son Row­land who once fought Ricky Hat­ton.

“My last am­a­teur fight was in May so I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting back into the ring,” said Burn­ham. “My train­ing has been non-stop since and I feel in great shape.”

Burn­ham, who has a Ma­gen David tat­tooed on one leg and an­other embroidered on his box­ing shorts, re­cently be­came en­gaged to his part­ner, Anna, who is ex­pect­ing their first child. “She has ex­pressed fears and doubts about me turn­ing full-time, but she ap­pre­ci­ates it’s some­thing I en­joy and am also good at.

“I’ve spent much of my life box- ing so she knows what she’s signed up to. I still train with a head-guard but the prob­lem with most box­ers is that they never ad­mit when enough is enough.

“It’s hard for me not to say I want to go all the way. I have a great team, coach, man­ager, agent and fam­ily be­hind me and I lead a dis­ci­plined life­style. I won’t have a drink un­til the baby ar­rives in May.

“As a fam­ily we sup­port Jewish box- ing din­ners and I still ob­serve the High Holy Days. I’m also look­ing to do some char­ity work and give some­thing back to the com­mu­nity.”

Burn­ham in­cludes Manny Pac­quiao, Roberto Du­ran and Gary Jacobs as his box­ing idols, as well as Bernard Hop­kins, whom he de­scribes as “the hard­est 50-year-old out there”.

He de­scribes him­self as a “pres­sure counter-puncher” and says he was “chuffed” when for­mer Jewish cham- pion Jacobs re­cently con­tacted him on Face­book. “It was a spe­cial mo­ment,” he said. “I felt star-struck.”

Asked what he hopes to bring to the ring, Burn­ham replied: “I’m an ex­cit­ing fighter to watch and want to bring the sport back to the com­mu­nity. I’m look­ing to im­press and get some rounds un­der my belt.

“I’m proud of my roots and am not duck­ing or hid­ing from any­one, in­side or out­side the ring. I feel as though I’m fly­ing the flag for my re­li­gion and noth­ing in­tim­i­dates me.”

Burn­ham,whosec­om­mer­ciala­gents are the Jewish-owned Side­kick Man­age­ment, has been fol­low­ing the progress of an­other Jewish boxer, Tony Milch, and says he would love a fight against him for “Bushey brag­ging rights”.

As­sum­ing all goes to plan in the Es­sex Boys 2 show at the Prince Re­gent Ho­tel on Wed­nes­day, he plans to fea­ture on the bill at York Hall in March.

PHOTO: MARC MOR­RIS

Josh Burn­ham has been train­ing twice a day, six days a week for his first pro fight

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