Also published in the Hartlepool Mail and Newcastle Chronicle
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.”
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
WATCH THE FORTITUDE PRESS CONFERENCE HERE
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