Darlington to become the next boxing hotbed?

DARLO LADS

Newcastle, Sunderland, and now Darlington, are proving, over time, to be hotbeds within professional boxing.
Darlington has enjoyed a flourishing amateur scene in recent years, more so at the gyms ran by Andy Marksby, and Paul Hamilton (previously at DBMA at the Echo Arena), with Troy Williamson the most recognised to have turned over in recent times.
Now, Tyneside promoter-manager, Steve Wraith continues to make an impact in the County Durham town, along with Peter Shepperson, who took over from Hamilton at DBMA.
Having added management abilities to his repertoire Wraith cut his teeth with then-returning Darlington favourite, Neil Hepper who, after a spell in the wilderness, is now on the cusp of titles; he also added Carl Wilson to the mix and took the sport back to the Dolphin Centre last November.
Hepper has recently been joined in the Darlington fold by Mark Downing (who’ll debut in December), Chrissy Wood, Richard O’Neill, another debutant, Ellis Corrie, the latter trio, along with Chris Burton, under Shepperson’s tutelage (he also trains world title challenger Stuart Hall).
“I’ve been here for three years now and took out my pro licence at the start of this year because Chrissy asked me to,” began Shepperson.
“Because of that I’ve been helping Stuey (Hall) who I’ve known for years and got involved with Steve (Wraith).
“The lads are in the gym all the time which is good as they not only want to stay in shape but they want to fight regularly as well, which is what we are doing.”
Chrissy, who returned to the ring at St James’ Park after a four year hiatus, already has one and possibly another, fight lined up between now and the end of the year.
Defeating Russ Midgley over four last time out he steps up to eight in Sheffield on October 13 (Sam Sheedy’s Commonwealth undercard) against undefeated home fighter, Ramzy Nassa he added: “I never wanted to walk away though and always wanted to get back in there and box again.
“Knowing of (Neil) Hepper and (Carl) Wilson, and what people like Steve (Wraith) are doing in the area helped me make up my mind to return.
“I want to win titles though and to be in for the Area title within twelve months. Actions speak louder than words though and I believe I’m good enough.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work with Stuey Hall (who’s training for the Matchroom show on Tyneside later this month) and that’s good for me as he’s really good at what he does and still has a lot to give.”
O’Neill meanwhile spent the early years of his career at Hartlepool’s Gus Robinson’s Gym before recently taking the option to break contract and move from Hartlepool to Darlington in the search for more opportunities.
“I want more fights, to be out regular and competing in the ring,” stated O’Neill.
“I was last out in March against a lad that was 6’ 5” and it was a fight I shouldn’t have taken really, had all sorts of issues in the build-up.
“Now, not only will I go on the road, I want to start challenging for the Area title in the near future and have what, five or six fights next year.”
The unknown quantity, and most recent addition to Wraith’s stable is Ellis Corrie, a former Muay Thai champion who has won titles at home, and abroad, during a stellar career.
Changing sports has been an interesting transition and, as he looks to fast-track himself into the title mix, it’ll be interesting to see what he does next, his debut scheduled for Darlington later this year.
He added: “I’ve just been playing the waiting game and training just as a boxer for a few months now.
“I’m ready to go now and want at least one fight before the end of the year, maybe more.
“I’m willing to go on the road as I’ve travelled around the globe anyway and had similar calibre fighters whilst doing five, three minute rounds as it is.”
All five of Steve’s fighters will be appearing at the Dolphin Centre’s Xmas Cracker on the afternoon of Saturday December 2 with standard tickets £37.50 and VIP (which includes a one course xmas dinner) at £55, tickets available from all fighters or from www.proboxingnewcastlegateshead.com 
 
Published in the Sunday Sun

O’Neill swaps Hartlepool for Darlington

O'NEILL 1

Super middleweight, Richard O’Neill, has left the Gus Robinson’s Gym, ran by Peter Cope Snr and Alan Temple, in Hartlepool, and has moved to the DBMA Gym in Darlington under the guidance of Peter Shepperson whilst signing a management contract with Tynesider Steve Wraith.
O’Neill, who had three fights under the Cope-Temple tutelage since turning professional in 2015, has felt stagnated of late, and his last fight, a draw with Callum Ide earlier this year, not necessarily his finest performance.
However, since taking advice from his partner, Sarahjane, and others close to the fighter, he made the decision to leave Hartlepool for Darlington aiming for a fresh start, severing all ties in doing so.
“We parted on good terms but I needed to do what was right for me,” explained Richard.
“I looked at a few different options around the region and this is a very good move for me as the one in Hartlepool was becoming difficult to navigate with my work patterns. Here, I’m just seven miles up the road, so it made sense and I’m enjoying my boxing again.”
Six months have passed since O’Neill last laced up the gloves and, although he remained undefeated, the draw with Callum Ide was a tough one to take, and the 31-year-old suffered, in and out of the ring.
A point’s win on his debut, against Scott Hillman, in October 2016 was followed, thirteen months later by a first stoppage success, stopping Rikke Askew in the second round, and, although Ide was just four months later, he’s not happy looking back at it.
“I fought that lad, Callum, back in March, and he’s like 6’5 but you have to learn fast and I did that,” he continued.
“It wasn’t the best camp and I never felt right at all throughout, The last few weeks of camp was pretty bad and I feel, even now, I should have pulled off and it showed as I put in a bad performance.
“I watched it back a few times and we realised I needed to do something and it was my fiancée, Sarahjane, who pointed out what I needed to do.”
Now, with those changes in place, O’Neill is back in the gym, training two-three times-a-day, alongside Chrissy Wood, Ellis Corrie, Chris Burton and former world champion, Stuart Hall, at the Northern Echo Arena-based gym.
A potential return has been pencilled in for Darlington early December although Richard, having recently signed management terms with Steve Wraith, is ready to go and is willing to hit the road to get back to where he believes he should be, challenging for titles.
“I’d like a couple of quick fights to see out this year and will go on the road to do so,” added Richard.
“Then, with I’m hoping a good five or six outings next year, I’d like to think I’d be out challenging for the Area title as well; but it’s fights that I want and will get.”

Also published in the Hartlepool Mail and Newcastle Chronicle

Chrissy Wood

WOODS SIGNS

Born –  15-04-1988 (29), Darlington, County Durham

Division – Super Bantamweight

Record – 3-0

Manager – Steve Wraith

Appearances (as of September 2017)

15-09-2013 vs. Anwar Alfadi Won PTS4 (39-37)                                           Northern Echo Arena, Darlington

27-09-2013 vs. Ikhstham Lone Won PTS4 (39-38)                                             Elland Road, Leeds

17-09-2017 vs. Russ Midgeley Won PTS4 (40-36)                                      St. James Park, Newcastle

Richard O’Neill

O'NEILL 1

Born – 05-07-1986 (31), County Durham

Division – Super Middleweight

Record – 2-0-1(1)

Manager –  Steve Wraith

Appearances (as of August 2017)

17-10-2015 vs. Scott Hillman Won PTS4 (40-36)                   Lancastrian Suite, Dunston

26-11-2016 vs. Rikke Askew Won TKO2                                             Dolphin Centre, Darlington

04-03-2017 vs. Callum Ide Drew PTS4 (39-39)                                Rainton Meadows Arena, Houghton-le-Spring

Area champion relinquishes belt, hangs up gloves

SNAITH CHAMPION

Northern Area welterweight champion, Billy Snaith, has retired from professional boxing two months after defeating rival Daniel Cope at Hardwick Hall.

Snaith, who turned professional under Peter Cope Snr two years ago has five wins and two titles from five outings in the paid ranks, however, family commitments have prompted the decision to hang up the gloves, that and he’s accomplished all he set out to do.

“I’ve a new baby on the way and really want to spend time more with the family,” explained Snaith.

“I feel it’s the right thing and have achieved everything I set out to do.

“I won the Northern Area title (on April 22 via a points win over Cope) and that’s what I wanted to do; I have no regrets. I’ll look back in years to come and be happy with what I’ve done.

“It hasn’t been a rushed decision, I’ve thought about it for a while, spoke in depth with family and my team. I was happy to become a professional boxer so to do that, and win a couple of titles, I’m happy.”

WRAITH-SNAITH

The clash with Cope was a well-publicised affair, the pair at loggerheads on social media in the months building up to their title fight, with Snaith taking Cope’s title after ten rounds of non-stop action.

Now the dust has settled, and although he promised a rematch, it’s now down to the Boxing Board, and the region’s managers and promoters, as to what happens with the vacant title. Snaith was originally scheduled to oppose Tom Whitfield when he joined Steve Wraith’s camp earlier this year however, due to injury to Whitfield that never materialised.

Cope and Whitfield have faced each other twice already, both earning a win apiece and Snaith believes they should go again, for his relinquished title, adding: “I would like to see Daniel face Tom again, they deserve it.

“What Daniel and I went through was just one of those things. It got heated but it’s over and I hope that, if we see each other at shows, or pass in the street, we can talk.”

Snaith’s Tyneside-based manager Steve Wraith was understanding of the decision to walk away, the Ferryhill fighter giving him his first Area champion after nearly five years on the pro circuit himself.

Snaith and stablemate Jeff Saunders picked up titles on the Hardwick Hall show and Wraith said: “It was no-brainer for me when Billy asked me to manage him and we both knew that he wouldn’t be hanging around.

“I got him two title shots and he was the victor in both. What he’s doing now is admirable and I know he’ll be a miss but family comes first.

“My job is to manage and achieve dreams and it was great while it lasted so I’m sure the boxing family will wish him well.”

Having fought out of two boxing gyms, in Hartlepool and South Durham, Snaith has been round a few people during the couple of years in the paid ranks and extends his thanks to those that have helped him.

“Peter Cope Snr and Alan Temple gave me my break and I’ll always be grateful for that but I’d also like to thanks Tracey and Jeff Saunders, my manager Steve Wraith, Ian Glass for getting me in the shape of my life, Stu Armstrong, Peter Mann, and most importantly my friends and family, we’ve had a blast.”

(Originally published in the Newcastle Chronicle, June 2017)

 

Kelly has soul, he’s superbad, after stunning stoppage win in Walker

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Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing and Sky Sports have promised as returned to the region before the end of this year after a hugely successful show at the Walker Dome on Friday night.

Headlined by Sunderland Olympian, Josh ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly against Birtley’s Tom ‘TNT’ Whitfield, fight fans were far from disappointed by that, or the strong undercard, contests which left the Matchroom supremo dreaming of success to come in the area.

The likes of Stuart Hall, Warren Baister, Simon Vallily and Bradley Saunders, alongside Josh Kelly, all did the region proud when collecting wins, some more emphatically than others.

Kelly put Whitfield to the sword in the headline contest which last less than two minutes after the Rio Olympian pinned the former Northern Area title challenger to the ropes, in their corner, and unleashed seven lefts in quick succession for which there was not only no answer, but left a dazed and confused Whitfield on the canvas unsure what to do next.

Afterwards Kelly said: “I was ready for eight rounds as you can never plan for what happens in a contest.

“Short of stopping an opponent you don’t know how long a contest will last however, once the jabs started landing I knew I had the contest won it was just down to the timing of the shots and knowing in my head that I’d catch him sooner rather than later.”

The world is certainly the oyster for Kelly, but for Whitfield its back to the drawing board with the next move needing to be plotted wisely by coach Mal Gates; there was no disgrace in the loss or it’s manner either, Kelly being destined to be a future world champion, and who knows Whitfield could do a rematch in the future?

The Birtley fighter added: “I got KO’d off a future world champion.

“I trained hard for this, putting miles on the road and rounds in the gym but boxing is all about levels and we knew we were stepping up a massive level to take on Josh.

“I’ve never ducked a fight though and never ducked this one. I had no hesitation when we were offered it as it was a massive opportunity to box on a live Sky show and to share the ring with a future world champion.

“This time last year I was recovering from a broken jaw and now I’ve just topped a Sky Sports show, it’s what dreams are made of.”

The remainder of the main Sky Sports bill saw Hetton’s Jordan King collect a routine win Adam Jones, Liverpool’s Anthony Fowler claim an impressive stoppage success at the start of the fourth against Nikolavs Gvajava and ‘Miss GB,’ Natasha Jonas turn up the heat with a stunning debut performance with a first round stoppage of Monika Antonik.

On the undercard, Bradley Saunders made an emphatic return after some 21 months out with injury and showed little sign or ring rust, or after effects to double hand surgery, he claimed first round, 163 second stoppage win after opponent Casey Blair’s corner threw in the towel whilst former world champion, Stuart Hall, eased to a comfortable six round win over the tricky Jose Aguilar.

The four Fighting Chance opening the bill impressed to warrant further exposure as Darren Reay and Jamie Humble earner points successes, Kris Pilkington fought a tough draw whilst Ferryhill’s hard hitter, Kyle Redfearn, notched up another stoppage win, his third in four, to remain unbeaten, taking down Martin Orlusiak late in the second; cruiserweight’s Warren Baister and Simon Vallily also tasted victory as the former stopped Imantas Davidaitas early in the second, and the latter was pushed the distance by Blaise Mendouo over six.

After the show Hearn said of a potential return: “I’d like to come back to the Newcastle (Metro Radio) Arena in October with Vallilly vs. Baister, Stuart Hall in that kind of find, and Josh Kelly.

“Bradley needs another fight still because he’s been out a long time but after that I don’t see why he shouldn’t jump in at the deep end.

“We probably need one more to add real depth to the card as well but there was 2,000 tickets sold on Friday night and a lot of the young kids were starting out so it was very encouraging.”

Wraith And Saunders Go Their Separate Ways

WRAITH - SAUNDERS SJP

After a successful twelve months manager Steve Wraith and undefeated super lightweight Jeff Saunders are to part company with the stars next step to be announced over the coming days.

July 2016 would see Tynesider Wraith pull off one of the biggest coups in professional boxing when landing the signature of the hottest property about. At the time Saunders was undefeated in seven, including a trip to South Africa, Wraith having promoted the star on three occasions whilst also witnessing ‘that’ stoppage win over Istvan Kiss after just 15 seconds at the Manchester Arena.

Since signing with Wraith, the fighter won a further four contests, the last via stoppage on home soil in Sedgefield and included being on the first show at St James’ in nearly fifty years.

Speaking of the decision to part ways Steve said: “The agreement from day one was that it was a one year management contract in order to help through to the next level.

“We’ve sat and talked at length about it and feel that the time is right for him to move on and he goes with my blessing.

“Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to promote both Bradley and Jeff and with that brought a solid grounding and reputation within the boxing fraternity.

“The relationship with the Saunders family will continue though as my some of my fighters are trained by Jeff Snr over at South Durham.”

Fighters like Jeff, as with elder brother Bradley beforehand, are hot property in the fight game so whoever snaps up the fighter, who is undefeated in eleven contests with six stoppages, has a goldmine at their disposal, and surely title successes in the immediate future with both English and British on the 22-year-old’s radar over the next twelve months.

Wraith added: “Whoever Jeff decides to sign with I’m sure it will be the right decision.

“He knows what he’s looking for going forward and I’m looking forward to seeing his next fight later on in the year.”

Although Saunders, following in the footsteps of Billy Snaith, has left the Wraith camp the Tyneside-based manager still has Neil Hepper, Carl Wilson and Mark Downing whilst adding Chrissy Wood (pending BBBofC approval), from the County Durham/Teesside area, on his books ensuring there is a bright future ahead either way.

Into the Lion’s Den for heavyweight TK

TK1

There’s a very busy five weeks ahead for Fighting Chance heavyweight soldier, Jone TK Volau with not one, but two big fights lined up.

Having to juggle life as a soldier with life as a heavyweight professional boxer was never going to be easy but for TK, with four wins from five already to his name, the next spell is crucial to his progression.

Narrowly losing, by a point, to Josh Sandland, in his last outing, TK will first head to Germany on June 17 to face undefeated Burak Sahin on the Paul Smith – Tyron Zeuge world title undercard; then, on his return, he’ll have a quick turn-around before heading to Scotland to face Jay Carrigan-McFarlane in what’s an expected six rounder.

“The last fight (against Sandland) still haunts me,” began TK.

“I need to put that behind me and will look to do good things in Germany and then Scotland. It was a tough decision to make when we got the call but we believe I’ve got the talent and we’ve looked in detail at both him (Sahin) and his past opponents.

“It’s because of what we’ve seen we believe that I can go there and do the business on what will be a great fight card.

“Take nothing away from Sahin though but he’s fought nobody like me and I intend on going there and causing an upset, I can’t wait to get back out there.”

TK2

With five months since that last outing for TK, being in the army will do that for sure, TK is a non-stop action man in and out of the ring.

Sandland’s blip aside the four wins have seen him impress enough to warrant high quality outings on the road and, although he’s had doubters since turning professional in late 2015, the now 33-year-old is aiming for title gold over the next twelve months, with a potential Northern Area title clash at the end of the year, then gunning for the English in 2018.

TK3

“I’ve been away due to obvious work commitments so now I’m trying to get busy again,” TK continued.

“The rest of the lads in the gym have two fights at least up on me so I have to play catch-up (he laughed) and this is a big opportunity for any fighter.

“After these two I’m looking at an Area title shot in December and I’ll be happy to then go for the (vacant) English next year.”

Doubters will always doubt, it’s down to fighters like TK to prove them wrong and do the business, in and out of the ring. With a strong team around him, including the ‘old man’ Ronnie Rowe and trainer Gary Barr, TK’s belief in his abilities is there to see, the loveable heavyweight preparing to blitz all-comers, with a surprising secret weapon in his corner, the pocket rocket, Paul Charters.

“I’ve worked really hard for this, to get to where I am,” admitted TK.

“I’ll be ready though and age is nothing in the heavyweights, people shouldn’t doubt me though and I’ve just got to believe in myself and that’s what I do.

“Going to Germany proves a lot and the Sauerland’s (promoters) have been great in the run-up so we can’t wait to get out there. I’ve asked for Paul (Charters) to come with us so I’m looking forward to that, he’s a great bloke and good to have someone like him in your corner.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available to help TK train and be kitted correctly for his next two fights. Currently serving in the British Army the heavyweight requires assistance with travelling expenses to and from training, training equipment and fight gear – this is an ideal opportunity for businesses to be seen on a global scale via logos on shorts, ring wear etc, for further information email Caroline via caroline211305@hotmail.com.

 

 

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