Dream team ready to rum­ble at York Hall

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY DANNY CARO

BOX­ING WHEN Josh Burn­ham was told he would have to stop box­ing on med­i­cal grounds, he ad­mits his world al­most came tum­bling down. But now he is hop­ing to make his mark in the sport as a coach.

Hav­ing taken up box­ing aged 12, Burn­ham looked primed for a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional ca­reer in the ring. But that all changed one day when he had a brain scan while ap­ply­ing to re­new his li­cence.

“I was told that I was in dan­ger if I re­ceived even one more punch to the head,” says Burn­ham, who last fought in 2016. He was given this news on the eve of a sched­uled third pro bout af­ter break­ing a hand in train­ing.

Burn­ham, 24, from Bushey, took time away from the ring af­ter be­com­ing a dad, with a sec­ond child ex­pected next month. He re­cently linked up with Tony Milch, an­other Jewish boxer, and to­gether with trainer Daryl Spal­ter, they are pre­par­ing for Milch’s next pro­fes­sional fight at York Hall on Fe­bru­ary 10.

“It has all been a bit of a whirl­wind,” says Burn­ham, who is also a per­sonal trainer and a for­mer U16 Ju­nior na­tional light mid­dleweight cham­pion.

“I’m still not over the news but hope that, by work­ing to­gether with Tony and a group of other pro­fes­sional and ama­teur fighters, I can still ful­fil my dream of win­ning a world ti­tle.

“I’m en­joy­ing train­ing Tony and have taken lit­tle bits of what I learned when I was coached. We go out for runs to­gether and I still get into the ring for body spar­ring. I get as in­volved as I can.

“Tony and I were al­ways on each other’s radars,” Burn­ham re­veals, “while Daryl also knew I was look­ing for a new fighter. He has helped me a lot dur­ing my ca­reer.”

Milch won his first 13 pro fights but he was un­sure where to turn fol­low­ing a de­feat in the South­ern Area Su­per wel­ter­weight ti­tle against Matt McCarthy last Oc­to­ber. Now Milch be­lieves work­ing with Burn­ham and Spal­ter is the per­fect formula.

And, af­ter only a cou­ple of months to­gether with Burn­ham, he can feel the im­prove­ment. “Josh doesn’t want to take away my strengths,” said Milch. “He knows how much I still want to win ti­tles. We’ve been work­ing on do­ing things that weren’t com­ing to me nat­u­rally.” Milch trains at the BOXR gym in Mill Hill and ex­plains: “I’ve al­ways had the power for my weight class but I was just stick­ing to what I knew. Now I’m punch­ing harder.

“Josh and Daryl are my eyes in the ring. I’ve been fight­ing for 20 years and have still got the hunger.”

Milch will re­turn to ac­tion for a six-round light-mid­dleweight con­test against Danny Lit­tle in Beth­nal Green’s York Hall.

Burn­ham ar­gues: “I be­lieve Tony’s de­feat last year did him the world of good, as we may not have come to­gether other­wise.

“He al­ways had the abil­ity to do it. Now it’s about him un­leash­ing his po­ten­tial. He’s a lovely bloke but he’s got a spite­ful side in him.

“That said, I’m not try­ing to turn him into the next Mike Tyson.

“It will be a tough test as Danny is an ex­pe­ri­enced fighter who won his last bout with a fifth-round knock­out. He’s strong and dan­ger­ous. We wanted an op­po­nent who will open up so we can look to ex­ploit any weak­nesses. It’s a good come­back fight. We’re look­ing for an im­proved dis­play and I want Tony to put into play ev­ery­thing we’ve been work­ing on.”

Spal­ter, 55, is per­haps bet­ter known for his foot­balling prow­ess from his days play­ing at Win­gate & Finch­ley. But he also has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with box­ing — his un­cle, Adrian White­son, is a for­mer Box­ing Board of Con­trol doc­tor. Spal­ter — who will serve as Milch’s cor­ner-man and him­self had 14 ama­teur fights — re­marks: “You’ll see a new Tony Milch. We’re con­fi­dent of that.”

PHOTO: MARC MOR­RIS

(From left): Josh Burn­ham, Tony Milch and Daryl Spal­ter

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