Middleweight Carwyn Herbert writes for BBTV, giving a detailed breakdown on the current state of play for Nottingham boxing.
As mentioned in the previous article written way back in January 2017, Nottingham boxing had suffered a lull since the heyday of Jawaid Khaliq, Jason Booth, Nicky Booth, Carl Greaves, and Esham Pickering packing out Harvey Hadden.
Then came the great Carl Froch journey though following that Jason Mcclory, Jimmy Gill and Carl Greaves ran the occasional show to remind people boxing still existed and the amateur scene was booming.
Those amateurs don’t stay amateurs forever and inevitably they become professionals. Add to that more promoters getting involved in boxing and Nottingham now has an exciting scene where there is a leading pack, prospects, and fresh faces coming through as most other cities have had. With venues such as Britannia Hotel, Harvey Hadden and in a breakthrough last year Nottingham Arena all hosting shows the future is bright for the city.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, Scott Calow & Joe Elfidh of Boxing Connected, Carl Greaves and Matt Scriven with Robin Hood promotions all ran shows in Nottingham in 2019 and had Covid not happened there’s a chance it would have happened in 2020 too. Without the promoters running the shows, the boxers can’t perform to do ignite the scene and the promoters are as responsible for the continued resurgence as the boxers.
Having had a fantastic 2019 with three great TKO wins, Leigh Wood’s career hit a speedbump this year as he fell short against old amateur adversary Jazza Dickens in the semi-final of the golden contract. Woods career has been reinvigorated since switched his management team to be signed by Dave Coldwell. Despite the recent setback there are plenty of fights for Wood with fellow Golden Contract Semi-finalist Tyrone McCullough and Reece Bellotti also on the comeback trail, so crossroad fights like these could be the platform for the winner to move back into title contention.
A busy 2019 saw English Welterweight king Ekow Essuman pick up four wins, two of which were against impressive opposition with a stoppage victory over unbeaten Curtis Felix Jr and a close points decision against experienced Tyrone Nurse. Ekow has recently signed a promotional contract with Frank Warren with his first fight against IBF European champion Cedrick Peynaud who will be recognised from his close affairs with Connor Benn. The Engine, will be eager to dipose of Peynaud more impressively than Benn as he has long called The Dark Destroyers son out on social media, and an impressive win here should put him in pole position for a shot at Chris Jenkins british title given they’re under the same promotional umbrella.
Ultimate Boxxer middleweight winner Derrick Osaze recently signed a promotional contract with the platform which given the current climate could at least mean he gets some fights. Sporting an impressive 10 – 0 record Osaze will be looking to contest for titles and given his adaptability in the ring will be formidable for anyone. A youth pastor outside boxing, labelled the punching preacher – a contest with popular Nathan Heaney of stoke for the midlands area title has been discussed and would be a fascinating test.
Former kickboxing world champion Chad Sugden recently lost a unanimous decision to the tall rangy Shakan Pitters live on Channel 5. He’s proven his fortitude in taking tests first in jumping in at late notice on a sky show to get a draw with Craig Richards and then in March stepping in to replace Richards against Pitters in a bout that postponed due to the coronavirus until August.
2 Slick is clearly unafraid of a challenge, good contests are out there for him – it would be great to see him remain at this level and a bout with Dec Spelman would be a fantastic local derby.
It’s been 4 years since Curtis Valentine’s hammer fists were seen in a professional boxing ring, when he picked up two wins following another four year sabbatical. Now on the comeback trail, former midlands area middleweight champion Valentine will be looking to pole axe opponents in a similar fashion to how he did previously. Seven wins against three losses with five wins coming by knockout, where all the losses were on points Valentines record evidences his chin as well as the power he carries – with tools like that it makes him an attractive proposition for punters to follow and a daunting one for opponents to face.
Having lost a close points decision to heavyweight upsetter Kamil Sokolowski last time out, Ellis Machin is young enough to achieve plenty at 28. With heavyweights not peaking until their 30’s his best years are ahead of him and he will no doubt look to avenge his loss to Sokolowski when the opportunity arises. Has had more experience sparring than he has in fights which is backed up by him being a paid sparring partner for Dillian Whyte in preparations for his win against Alexander Povetkin which underlines how well thought of he is by those in the trade.
Former international masters Lightweight titleholder Nathan Kirk holds a record of 13 wins with five losses. Kirk has confessed to now being at the stage of his career where he needs noteworthy fights to motivate him – be that TV or title fights. Last time out Kirk gained a shutout win over tough Nicaraguan Edwin Tellez, and given his impressive ledger the phone should be ringing with opportunities.
Kirk protégé Hughes has a namesake within the sport so goes by the name of Joe Underwood Hughes. Nicknamed Happy due to the difficulty in getting him to crack a smile, with limited amateur experience and at age 23 Hughes has already raced to 4 – 0 already sporting a win over an opponent who holds a winning record as well as a six rounder. With plenty of time on his side and in the super featherweight class it shouldn’t be too long before Hughes is contesting area titles.
Light heavyweight Olly Newham isn’t in the mood to hang about as he’s got a second fight lined up following a six year hiatus. Having beaten debutant Dylan Courtenay on his first fight in six years back in October to advance his record to 7-0, Newham now takes on 4-0 Jake Barton to try shoot himself up the rankings. Newham, 33, first turned pro in 2007 and will look to make a statement to kickstart his stop start career.
Scott Calow managed trio Jack Hutsby, Jordan Ringham and Kyle Hughes have recently changed trainers to be trained by Calow. Super middle Hutsby sports a record of 4-0-1 with his one draw coming after damaging both hands in the early rounds, and the tree surgeon will want to maintain that form upon resumption. Hughes has a record of 2-2, and has no qualms about taking difficult fights in the home or away corner, the Canelo lookalike will always make for an entertaining fight. Meanwhile Ringham has 2 wins to his ledger and has been waiting patiently for an opportunity to advance to his 3rd win.
Also floating around that weight class is Corey Jackson who last year contested the super middleweight Midlands area title against Jamal Le Doux. Jackson displayed great character to rebuild his career following losing his first two bouts, and to get a title fight following those early setbacks shows incredible resilience. Coming back from a title fight loss will not require nearly as much fortitude.
Ezra Taylor made an impressive debut as he blew out Latvian opponent Jevgenjis Andrejevs in two rounds back in March at light heavyweight just prior to lockdown. Taylor had an impressive amateur career and is highly fought of in the trade having been a sparring partner for the likes of Lawrence Okolie. Fellow Nottingham light heavyweights Joshua Chapman and Tim Ventrella fought one
another in their second bouts respectively to earn a draw in what was the fight of the night where a rematch seems an obvious next step for both.
Errol Macdonald trained duo Ryan Amos and Josh Gooding have been progressing their careers gradually. Super welterweight Gooding faced domestic gatekeeper Arvydas Trizno in a tough debut outing before picking up a win in his second fight. Amos has advanced to 5-0 as he moves up the rankings and with former European title challenger Macdonald at the helm they have the wisdom to lean upon.
Featherweight Bradley Daws has raced to 6-0 as a pro ,at age 24 with experience of fighting at Nottingham arena already, Daws will look to progress up the rankings. Super welterweight Southpaw Stan Stannard picked up an impressive win in his third outing as he beat Martin Jones ,who sported an identical 2-0 record at the time of the fight, by 1st round TKO to make a statement. Carl Greaves manages both Nottingham lads and has high hopes for both
Lockdown came at the worst possible time for Delmar Thomas as he had just won a six round points win over Jamie Quinn on the 7th of March with a fight lined up for midland area lightweight title against unbeaten Kaash Buttery in stoke 4 weeks later. Trained by Barrington Brown and managed by Jimmy Gill, he’ll be hoping the fight can be made again. Fellow Nottingham lightweight Conner Short has picked up two points wins in his career so far, and will be wanting to continue building experience when the sport picks up.
Chad’s little brother Regis Sugden had a busy 2019 as he squeazed in fivefights to amass a perfect record. Also trained by his father Dean, the Sugden clan have a massive following which will help in keeping active.
Super middleweight Ben Douglas kicked his career off in explosive fashion as he picked up two knockout wins in the away corner until his momentum was derailed by coming up against Troy Williamson. Super middleweight Dominic Sheppard made his debut outing in March and will want to build his ledger. Fellow one bouter Sam Spooner’s career stalled as a fight he was due to have in March was cancelled due to a delay in his license being granted, with that now resolved the Spoon can now get active to scoop some wins.
Scott Calow has signed an exciting amateur in super lightweight Dwaine Bailey who will be chomping at the bit in having his debut. As an amateur was trained by Jawaid Khaliq and Fidel Castro Smith, Bailey wants competitive fights as he tries to make a splash on the scene. Amateur stable mate Siraj Ahmed has now switched teams from Tony Harris to Asgar Tair as he has changed camps, and is on the comeback trail with it being three years since his last outing.
A few boxers are on the comeback trail, Irish Terry Maughan is in the twilight years of his career though following a rough patch of form wants to grab a win before bringing down the curtains on his career. Also on the comeback trail is Ciaran Hayes who hasn’t fought since 2017 due to personal reasons, now with reinvigorated focus he hopes to return to the sport soon. I’m – Carwyn Herbert – also on the comeback trail following a lower back injury, and will have a new training team.
Meanwhile, a few boxers have finished their career. British boxing legend who held the IBO, British and commonwealth titles Jason Booth called time on his career and now works as a kitchen fitter. The boxing grime star Omari Grant who had positioned himself for an English title eliminator has also ended his career, where he has now diverted his attention back to grime and has become on author with his first publication Exile.
Former English champion Adnan Amar came back in 2016 following a four year layoff to end on a win. A televised DQ win over Louis Adolph was also Nathan Mcintosh last contest. Boxing Jockey Steve Williams son Jamie Williams who held midlands area title has also not boxed since 2017 though had he chosen to come back there are some big domestic fights.
Fireman Dean Gillen had a back injury which curtailed his career though he’s now diverted his attention to remaining in the sport getting a trainers license and can often be seen on midlands shows as a house second. Finally former commonwealth champion with sole loss coming to Terri Harper, Nina Bradley has called time on her career. Initially on the comeback trail to raise awareness on mental health as it was a cause close to her heart – complications meant Bradley had to change tact and she’s now expecting a baby boy.
Boxers on the cusp of titles, those in the tail end, those finishing and all in between it now looks like a thriving scene. Success breeds success and for a long time following the Froch hangover, Nottingham was starved of Success, all that now looks set to change with the only obstacle in the cities path the pandemic that has brought the sport to stand still.