British boxing is currently ruling the roost but there is only one way to keep it on top of the world in the coming years. And that is by continuing to develop the exciting young talent now re-invigorating the sport.
Naturally the spotlight is now on some of our dozen world champions but the future has to be about those who hopefully one day will replace them and earn the same plaudits for their achievements.
I have always been a firm believer in a youth policy for boxing. In some ways it is the same as in football.
You look at clubs like Spurs and Southampton their current success has a great deal to do with their development of the kids in their youth academies.
So it is with boxing. So welcome to the Warren Academy for Young Noble Artists.
I have always been passionate about working with young fighters.
Here at Queensberry we believe in nurturing our own talent, and not nicking those who have made it from other promotional organisations.
We have worked hard at bringing on fighters from their late teens or early twenties and I would argue that we now have the finest boxing ‘academy’ in the land.
In our extensive ‘stable’ of boxers we manage or promote we have three terrific world champion in Billy Joe Saunders (he’s been with is since he was 18), Terry Flanagan and Liam Smith; but what is equally important is that we have literally fistfuls of wannabe world champs on the way up the way up, and I predict quite a few of them will make it.
I certainly include the brilliant 22-year-old Chorley super-lightweight Jack Catterall, who is 14-0 and already holds the WBO Inter-Continental belt. He’s destined for really great things, perhaps even this year.
As I believe is the unbeaten power-punching Welsh light-middleweight Liam Williams, 23, and 27-year-old Ryan Walsh, the British and Commonwealth featherweight champion.
I would also mention our cheekiest of chappies, super-featherweight Mitchell Smith, 23,the self-styled ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ voted Best Young Boxer of the Year but now having to absorb the lesson of a first defeat in 14 fights – one brought about, as he now acknowledges by his own jack-the-laddishness. I’m still strongly backing him to make it, too as long as he gets his act together.
Alongside them are successful established campaigners including Liam Walsh, Bradley Skeete, Paul Butler, Ovill McKenzie, Jamie Cox, Enzo Maccarinelli, Gary Corcoran, Lewis Pettitt and Joe Selkirk.
And we could almost field a couple of football teams with our up-and-comers: How’s this for a line-up?
Light-heavy: Tom Baker 12-0-0 (2 kos)
Anthony Yarde 4-0-0 (3).
Super-Middle: Billy Long 4-0-0 (1).
Middle: Alex Hughes 7-0-0 (4)
Vijender Singh 3-0-0 (3); Super-welter: Gary Corcoran 13-0-0 (6);
Joe Pigford 9-0-0 (8), Sam McNess 3-0-0 (1).
Welter: Macaulay McGowan 9-0-0 (1);Super-light:Josh Leather 8-0-0 (2)
Steven Lewis 10-0-0 (5),Romeo Romaeo 9-0-0 (4),Joe Costello 5-0-0 (3), Zelfa Barrett 7-0-0 (2)
Archie Sharp 3-0-0 (1), Zack Davies 4-0-0 (1).
Super-feather: Boy Jones Jnr 5-0-1 (3),
Lyon Woodstock 5-0-0 (3).
Featherweight: Ciaran McVarnock 5-0-1,
D.P Carr 2-0-0 (2).
Flyweight: Jay Harris 7-0-0 (4),
Prince Patel 3-0-0 (1).
Some of them already have their own trainers, often from their amateur days, but new prospects know we can always link them up with some of the best tutors in the country who will bring out the best in them.
Indeed, one of the reasons for the high quality of British boxing at the moment has much to do with the expertise and experience of men like Jimmy and Mark Tibbs, Anthony Farnell, Gary Lockett, Lee Beard, Joe Gallagher, Tom Chaney, Jason Rowland and Alan Smith, to name a few. All know the game inside out.
The young hopefuls also know that with us they will get regular exposure on BoxNation, a channel devoted exclusively to the sport where their ability can be appreciated and assessed by fans who genuinely know and follow the game.
It is always heartening to hear people in boxing say that most of the young talent in the land seems to want to go with Frank Warren.
What is also interesting is the large number of youngsters who continue to come into the sport, both in the amateur clubs at schoolboy level and above and those applying for pro licenses.
It is a reflection of the sport’s still-growing popularity both as an physical activity, an amateur career and eventually a profession because while the ultimate aim may be the riches that come with being a world champion, there is still a good living to be made in the quest for stardom.
Long may it last – and it will do if we keep the accent on youth.