Don’t call it a comeback as Hardy returns

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Following an unexpected hiatus the ‘Horden Hitman’ Anth Hardy returns to the ring this Saturday at Hardwick Hall Hotel against the visiting Andrej Cepur.

Originally scheduled to face namesake Nathan Hardy, Anth, who had an unexpected spell on the side-lines due to the need of eye surgery, finally gets to lace up the gloves for the first time in near fourteen months.

Up until the hiatus Hardy had appeared ten times over a three year spell, challenging for the English title against Joe Hughes in Bath back in July 2015, but, following the shock stoppage loss to Sam O’Maison seven months after, it’s been more about re-building than boxing.

“Although Cepur isn’t ideal for me with the weight, I’ll just relax a little more with my intake and when I’m in there I’ll put my foot on the gas and showcase some skills,” Hardy began.

“(Nathan) Hardy unfortunately had to pull out with a hand injury but I’m still looking at this one as a good step then I’ll probably hit the road and face some up and comers to get some rounds under my belt.

“When I first started out I had some time-frames in mind but you soon realise you can’t plan for what’s around the corner so I’m just looking at keeping busy and get maybe four fights in this year, that’ll be perfect, realistic for me.”

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Having had successful eye surgery, and potential fights either side of that falling through, including twice with Lee Mould, Hardy recently took in a spell on the commentators table alongside Andrew Buchanan at the Walker Dome. The pair putting out their own ‘version’ of Ant & Dec.

That alone showed that, as is the case with Buchanan, and in Hardy’s eyes, they’re around for some time to come in one form or another.

“The eye surgery certainly got in the way of things but I’ve not stopped and been working hard behind the scenes,” he continued.

“I’ve not really been out the gym (Gus Robinson’s in Hartlepool with Peter Cope Snr and Alan Temple) bar the three week period that was on doctor’s orders. Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fit professional athlete anyway.

“As for the commentating, alongside Andy, at the Walker Dome, I’d definitely do it again.

“It’s much easier on that side of the ropes for sure. Being in there and doing it is an entirely different concept but I’d like to think that the commentary was honest and fair.

“I’ve known Andy for a long time now and fought on a few shows together; he’s good crack and I know that people like us will be in the sport for a long time.”

One of the first things any boxer will tell you is that they’re blessed, lucky, to get anywhere in this sport the sponsorship and a relatively decent fan-base is required. In Anth’s case he’s had both from the start with his grandfather’s business, Eddie’s Tattoo Studio, playing a vital role in the early stages of his career.

“My uncle has been there from the start, helped with those early bills etc and it’s the small businesses that don’t get thanked enough for the support they give; the same with those that helped me with the recent surgery costs,” added Anth.

“I’d personally like to thank everyone who has had faith in me and supported me through the past twelve months, the surgery and rehab so I hope I can repay them on Saturday night and put in a good performance.”

Anth Hardy, 8-2, appears at Hardwick Hall Hotel this Saturday night opposing Andrej Cepur, 8-33-2, over four rounds on the undercard of Daniel Cope vs Billy Snaith (Northern Area title) and Jeff Saunders vs Chris Truman (British Challenge Belt).

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Area Battle Scheduled for Hardwick Hall

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Steve Wraith takes his promotional bandwagon to Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield next month with the hotly-anticipated, Winner Takes It All showpiece which will be headlined by a thunderous grudge-match between two former stablemates for the Northern Area title.

Champion Daniel Cope will put his Area title on the line against Billy Snaith. Cope who left Gus Robinson gym to join Neil Fannan stable won the title last year against Gatesheads Tom Whitfield. Snaith now trains at Jeff Saunders gym in Sedgefield but is managed by promoter Wraith.

Since the fight was agreed a few weeks ago both fighters have been in action with Cope grabbing a draw at Rainton Meadows and Snaith winning an International Challenge belt in Newcastle. But both fighters clearly had only one thing on their minds with daggers already being drawn.

Cope said: “I really don’t know where he’s got all this confidence from.

“I always beasted him in sparring but he says he wants to fight me so let’s do it, that’s if he makes weight.

“I saw him on Saturday and he was really overweight so I hope he can make it so I can finish this this off and give him a good hiding.”

Challenger Snaith responded: “ I watched his last fight at Rainton Meadows and I will not be having any sleepless nights.

“He was sloppy and unconditioned and didn’t seem interested. Northern Area Champion? Don’t make me laugh.

“He got lucky against Tom Whitfield and isn’t the strongest of lads and come fight night it’s only me and him in the ring. I’m not getting beat off him and if I did then I’d retire.

“I’m knocking him out make no mistake about it. He doesn’t take the body shot and I can’t see him doing anything to me unless I fall and break my leg and even then I’d still beat him.”

The undercard, which is already starting to take shape, will see Jeff Saunders, undefeated in ten outings, step up to eight rounds, and there will be outings for the other Wraith-managed fighters Neil Hepper and Carl Wilson, along with Phil Jeffries protege Adam Watson and the exciting Jordan King will also feature with more names to be confirmed over the next few weeks.

Tickets for the show at Hardwick Hall on April 22 are on sale now priced at £35 from www.proboxingnewcastlegateshead.com/tickets – Hedge your bets fight fans, you’re in for a bumpy ride and may the best man win!!

Bellew Bombs Into Tyneside

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Coming hot on the heels of the hugely successful Floyd Mayweather evening, Tyneside promoter, Steve Wraith, has moved swiftly to announce who, when and where his next boxing dinner will be.

On the afternoon of Sunday May 14th fights fans are invited to take Sunday lunch, and spend time with, the WBC cruiserweight king, and the conqueror of the Hayemaker, one of Merseyside’s favourite sons, Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew.

Bellew is presently a 29-2-1(16) fighter with a number of titles to his name during an already glittering career in the paid ranks. The world ranked number 2 (undefeated Ukrainian, Oleksander Usyk, holds top spot) claimed the WBC crown in May last year with a third round stoppage win over Ilunga Makabu at his native Goodison Park.

Since then the Bomber has defended his title at the Echo Arena with another third round stoppage, this time over BJ Flores, then defeated David Haye, at heavyweight, in his last outing.

Wraith is naturally delighted to be bringing another huge name to Gateshead: “A lot of people have been asking how we can top the success of bringing Mayweather to the region? Well I promise we will. We are in talks with two more of the worlds biggest names and it is only a matter of time before they will be jetting onto Tyneside. 

In the UK Bellew is the name on everyones lips, more so after the Haye fight and I like to bring these fighters North whilst they are making the headlines.

Having had successful dinners with the likes of Anthony Joshua,  Carl Froch, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and so on, I know that there is a huge interest in British stars in the North-East.”

Newcastle Legends are proud to bring fight fans, ‘Sunday Lunch with the WBC cruiserweight champion, Tony Bellew’ on the afternoon of May 14. The event takes place at The Lancastrian Suite, Dunston with tickets available now from the venue on 0191 4605353 priced at £25, £30. £100 and £150.

TICKET INFO 

Wraith Adds Downing At Number Five

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In the immediate aftermath of a successful outing for two of his fighters at the Walker Dome on Saturday night, promoter-manager Steve Wraith moved quickly to add a fifth professional fighter to his growing stable.

Mark Downing, at 26 years, has boxing blood in his family, but has himself been plying his trade in taekwondo for a number of years, making the England squad on a number of occasions. However, following conversations with family, and the Saunders camo where he’ll be based, he’s decided that, not he has passed his fitness tests with the boxing board, the timing is right for him to make a go in the paid ranks.

He said: “I’m learning off the best in Jeff (Saunders), Neil (Hepper) and the rest of the lads in the gym.

“They’re a fantastic, talented bunch of lads and what they have is unbelievable, the pros and amateurs. To me there’s no better gym to learn my trade, they’re on a different level and I know I’ve a lot to learn but have time to do so.

“I’ll be making my debut in May at Rainton Meadows and I just want to make a go of it and see what happens, that’s all I can do.”

Having been offered a contract with Ross Minter and his London-based Queensberry Promotions, Downing decided, with work playing a major part that his future best lay on Teesside and with the Saunders camp.

Trading at middleweight Downing is scheduled to make his debut under the lights of Rainton Meadows in May, next month’s show coming to soon for the newest addition to the fight game.

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North Stars Shine At The Walker Dome

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(Images courtesy of Singe Vert Photography)

Pendleton and Wraith combined in style on Saturday night at the Walker Activity Dome as the homes stars shone brightly, Billy Snaith claiming the International Challenge belt and Jeff Saunders continuing his progression in style with a thunderous showing of his own.

Wins on the undercard also saw Kyle Redfearn claim an impressive stoppage win whilst Jamie Humble and debutants Darren Reay and Krisy Pilkington also collected victories.

Snaith’s challenge belt contest against visiting Michal Vosyka went the distance but the Ferryhill flier kept his composure and used his reach well to win through on points; Saunders though, as chief support, stole the show with a thunderous performance against Mohamed Larabi.

Both fighters certainly came for the win and, although Saunders admitted afterwards that: “I stepped off the gas from the third onwards, it was a mistake,” he did enough despite deductions, to win through.

That second round though for Saunders was certainly the highlight of the night, the undefeated fighter now 10-0, battering Larabi into near submission but for his pulling back.

Fighting Chance had four of their own stars on the undercard and, after debutant Darren Reay started the evening’s proceedings with a points win over four rounds, Jamie Humble took to Luke Fash and claimed a similar result.

Krisy Pilkington then won his debut with a tough battle against Yousef Al Hamidi before Kyle Redfearn, sandwiched between Saunders and Snaith, and claimed the only stoppage of the night. Facing a late change of opponent in Callum Ide, Redfearn was unfazed and inflicted an eight count right at the end of the second, saving his opponent.

Coming out for the third though and Redfearn was relentless and aggressive, putting Ide down again to claim a third round stoppage win.

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Afterwards promoter Lewis Pendleton said: “It’s been a fantastic night for what was actually a hard show to put together.

“We had some genuine scraps and pitting Larabi against Saunders wasn’t an accident whilst Redfearn’s was a phenomenal test. It all meant that the lads had to come in at odd weights which they did brilliantly to do.

“I’m delighted for Redfearn though, Pilkington was sensational on his debut whilst Reay was superb. They did great to perform the way they did and we had over 1400 in the Dome.

“That shows the thirst for boxing in the region and it was great to work with Steve Wraith and his team again as well as with Greenwich Leisure Limited who were fantastic helping putting the show on.”

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After winning his tenth straight fight, which was dedicated to daughter Lily, the undefeated Jeff Saunders added: “He (Larabi) was tough, very hard to get rid of wasn’t he

“I always felt in control of the fight even though I took my foot off the gas in the third round. That second though, that was good and I felt him tighten up but I became a bit complacent.

“You learn from those little mistakes though as they could cost you as it was a tough fight to be in. Fair play to him although I knew I had his number.

“Next month though I’m stepping up again as I go for eight rounds and will be back in the gym and raring to go on Tuesday, ready for the next one.

“I just did what my coaches (Jeff Snr and Mark McGuinness) said in the corner and could hear the fans, especially our Brad, my mum (Tracey) and Lorrena, shouting me on ringside. I owe them, and Steve, a lot.”

The next outing for Saunders and Snaith, alongside Neil Hepper and Carl Wilson, will be at Hardwick Hall next month and then at the Rainton Meadows Arena on May 27 which will be headlined by two Northern Area title fights.

Westgarth Wanting a Tyneside War

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Ahead of his next outing, his first in nearly ten months, Scott Westgarth is wanting a home outing on his native Tyneside, or anywhere in the north-east, later this year.

Sparring with, and appearing on the undercard of stablemate Sam ‘Speedy’ Sheedy’s Commonwealth middleweight title shot on March 24 at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge, Westgarth, son of former ten year veteran heavyweight, John Westgarth, is clamouring to make up for lost time.

“I’m not bothered who it is I fight, I just want to get back in the ring as it’s been nearly ten months since I last fought,” began Westgarth.

“I’ve had several fall by the wayside including a recent English eliminator so I’m just excited to finally have something concrete to go into as it’s been a little disheartening as you’re putting in a lot of work for very little reward.”

With stablemate Sheedy challenging for international honours Westgarth is aware that success will open doors for the rest of the gym, and with undefeated prospect, Tommy Frank, also on the undercard, it’s made for a busy, and exciting, training camp for the Geordie.

“We’ve all been training, sparring and doing strength & conditioning together so it’s been nice to know that you’re all fighting at the same time,” continued Westgarth.

“Sheedy is constantly learning both in and out of the ring and that ethic is rubbing off and helping me. He’s brilliant at what he does and, although he’s smaller, he’s really quick and has the tools.”

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In fighting on March 24 Westgarth is under no illusions that he is heading towards a last chance saloon of sorts. Only entering the amateurs at 24 he turned professional at 27 and now, at 31 is short on time to make an impression and maybe pick up a few titles before he hangs up the gloves.

“As a late starter I said I’d see where I was at when I hit 32,” Scott stated.

“I’ll be 31 in July so it’s the time now in which to make the breakthrough. I just want to have fair fights and be able to push myself a little bit when I step through the ropes.

“I deserve some respect, want the fights, and would love to think I could challenge for the (light heavyweight) Area title this year.

“I’d love to fight back home (In Newcastle) but I know there’s a lot of logistics to work through but I’ve got some good sponsorship and a decent following, plenty come down to Sheffield, so who knows.”

Czech Warfare For Snaith

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This weekend sees Lewis Pendleton and Steve Wraith combine to bring Fortitude to the Geordie Nation at the Walker Activity Dome.

Headlined by Wraith-managed Billy Snaith in an international challenge belt fight with Czech Republic fighter, Michal Vosyka, as Snaith prepares to oppose former stablemate and divisional rival, Daniel Cope, next month for the Northern Area title.

For promoters Pendleton and Wraith it is an opportunity to give fighters some much needed ring time ahead of what could potentially be a big, title winning year for a number of them.

Pendleton said: “Fighting Chance are delighted to be returning to Newcastle for our joint promotion with Steve Wraith.

“This show is about building opportunities for north east fighters and by working together we can bring plenty of derbies together in the future ensuring that regional fight fans have shows to remember.

“Although we are delighted that we have four of our own fighters on the bill (Kyle Redfearn, Jamie Humble and debutants Darren Reay and Krisy Pilkington all make an appearance) we are also disappointed for Tom (Whitfield) and his team.

This injury will prevent him being on this show but we are looking forward to adding him to an already packed bill in May where we’ll be looking at another title opportunity for him.”

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With headline star-in-the-making, undefeated Jeff Saunders, and stablemate Billy Snaith, both topping the bill, promoter-manager Steve Wraith is happy to get two of his stable out early this year as both they, and Neil Hepper, will be looking to bring home the gold over the next twelve months, Carl Wilson not far behind them.

Wraith added: “The division which Billy and Tom are in has great potential to run and run with some fantastic local talent around.

“Unfortunately for Tom he’s picked up an injury and as he knows all too well, this is what happens in boxing, but we wish him well and all the best for his recovery and I’m sure we can match it again later this year.

“For Billy we’ve managed to get him an international challenge title fight (against Vosyka) which is something we had to get as a warm-up for him facing (Dan) Cope at Hardwick next month for the Area title.

“I for one am pleased that we can still put the show on as I need to get both Billy, and Jeff, out ahead of what is looking like a big year for my lads.”

The show, Fortitude, promoted by Lewis Pendleton and Steve Wraith, takes place at the Walker Activity Dome this Saturday night with doors opening at 630pm and first fight scheduled for 730pm;  tickets still available from all fighters on the card.

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Saunders & Snaith to be unleashed on Tyneside

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South Durham duo, undefeated Jeff Saunders and stablemate Billy Snaith, both appear at the Walker Dome on March 11 as Tyneside promoters Steve Wraith and Lewis Pendleton join forces.

Last year Saunders and Snaith appeared at St James’ Park as Steve Wraith took professional boxing back to the heart of Newcastle for the first time in nearly fifty years, both picking up credible victories.

At that time Snaith was under the guidance of Peter Cope Snr and Alan Temple in Hartlepool, shortly after he would sign management terms with Wraith and move to the South Durham gym where he trains alongside Saunders, Neil Hepper and Carl Wilson.

Now Snaith’s first outing under Wraith’s management will be for the British Challenge Belt over eight rounds in a regional dust-up with Mal Gates trained, Tom Whitfield early next month.

“I’m excited for what is a new challenge, a new chapter in my career,” said Snaith.

“(Peter) Cope Snr and (Alan) Temple have done a lot for me in my early career as a professional and I thank them for that, they gave me a chance and it’s much appreciated.

“I felt the time was right to move on and I know Steve is a good person and will certainly get me what I want in the fight game. I can already see improvements in my fitness being at South Durham and that’s brilliant.

“I’ve known Jeff Snr since the amateurs and, with this being closer to home, it certainly makes things easier for me, there’s also some fantastic sparring in here for me as well what with Jeff (Saunders), Carl (Wilson), Neil (Hepper), you’ve also got the amateurs here who’re a tough bunch.

“I’m looking to keep myself busy this year though and I wanted to fight both (Tom) Whitfield and (Daniel) Cope, that’s what I asked Steve for when I signed and he’s delivered.

“The three of us know that we can beat each other on any given day and that’s what makes for better fights between us.”

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WATCH THE FORTITUDE PRESS CONFERENCE HERE

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Continuing his progression in the paid ranks, Sedgefield’s Jeff Saunders will be looking to progress in the same vein of form the past two years have taken, by impressing and winning whilst moving into title contention.

Opposing Frenchman Mohamed Larabi over six rounds Saunders continues to increase the pressure in the rankings as he looks to have a title-winning year.

“Last year was a very good year for me, I’m still unbeaten and got some good experience behind me with some tough fights,” added Jeff.

“I’m feeling good though, I always do but will never take anyone for granted, ever. Everyone has that punches chance in a fight but I’m confident in myself and my abilities and I’m sure it will be a good six round fight.

“As for this year, I want a title definitely and I like the sound of the English title, I’d love a shot for that at the back of this year.”

Saunders and Snaith will appear at the Steve Wraith – Lewis Pendleton show, Fortitude, alongside Basi Razaq, Kyle Redfearn, Lee Mould and more, at the Walker Activity Dome on March 11, tickets available from all fighters priced at £35.

FORTITUDE FIGHT CARD

Tom Whitfield vs. Billy Snaith 8 x 3

(British Challenge Belt)

Basi Razaq vs. Dwayne Sheldon 8 x 3

(British Challenge Belt)

Jeff Saunders vs. Mohamed Larabi 6 x 3

Lee Mould vs. Steve Backhouse

Jamie Humble vs. Luke Fash

Krisy Pilkington (debut) vs. Qasim Husain

Kyle Redfearn vs.  Kysztof Golec

Darren Reay (debut) vs. Youseff Al Hamidi

Golden Girls enjoy a Golden Tournament

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The Tyne, Tees & Wear ‘Golden Girls’ returned from Boras, Sweden this February having enjoyed an extremely successful tournament at the annual Golden Girl Box Cup.

Led by coaches Laura Sargeant (East Middlesbrough), Caroline Dent (East Durham) and Tracey Jefferson (North Star) the sixteen strong squad certainly didn’t go with the intention of making up the numbers.

Not only did they create history taking a squad to Sweden, they won the ‘Best Team’ award out of 22 participating countries, an accolade which added to the pride shown by Head Coach, Laura Sargeant.

She said: “From our monthly regional squad we asked the girls as to who would like to take part in the Golden Girl Cup in Boras, Sweden, so that everyone had the chance to go if they wished.

“Regardless of their age or ability sixteen girls came forward and since then we had been fundraising and had help through some of the girls’ sponsors as well as our regional executive committee to help pay for the trip.

“It’s the first time ever that the TTW’s have had an all-female team, including coaches, box internationally for the region so we were making a little bit of history with the ‘TTW Golden Girls.’

“With 254 boxers from 22 countries in the largest female tournament, we won ‘Best Team,’ storming the leader board with 19 points with the closest behind us being Bk Ringen with 11 points.

“Everything was absolutely incredible and the officials put countless hours in to help make it a success and all the girls performed absolutely outstandingly, their behaviour and attitude was impeccable and I couldn’t be any prouder of them all, we absolutely smashed it!”

Of the sixteen girls who travelled for the Box Cup, eleven returned with medals as Shauna-Leigh Taylor (East Durham), Savannah Stubley (Empire), Danielle Marshall (Hartlepool Catholic), Natalia Johnstone (Birtley) and Sophie Haw (East Middlesbrough) claimed gold, whilst Zara Johnson (East Middlesbrough), Macy Kilkenny (East Middlesbrough), Ellie Wilson (Leam Lane), Alicia Parkes (Houghton & District), Gina Page (North Star) and Bobbi Bowman (Houghton & District) added silver.

 

Another Show, Another Venue

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Steve Wraith is set to take his promotional bandwagon to another new venue later this year.

Hardwick Hall, Sedgefield, has now been confirmed, and passed, by the Area Council and a professional boxing show will now take place in the marquee where the Lobster & Oyster Festival takes place each year.

A show will therefore take place at the venue, which follows in the footsteps of Morpeth Riverside Lodge, Tolworth Recreation Centre, and St James Park as new venues for Wraith and his PBNG team, will take place on Saturday 22 April.

A Northern Area title fight will headline the show with more details to follow, in the meantime we go to the Walker Dome on March 11 for Fortitude.

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