By John Evans
Over the past twelve months the Liverpool boxing scene has exploded. The city’s established names like Tony Bellew, Derry Mathews and David Price have all enjoyed their most high profile and successful years but the most exciting development has arguably been the emergence of the Everton Red Triangle gym.
As well as playing host to a thriving amateur scene, ERT is home to some of Britain’s most promising boxers with British and Commonwealth flyweight champion Kevin Satchell, hot prospect James ‘Jazza’ Dickens, and captain of Team GB’s successful boxing team at the 2012 Olympic Games Tom Stalker just three of a talented group of fighters that call the gym home. If Merseyside is quickly developing into the boxing capital of Britain, Everton Red Triangle is fast becoming its principle university.
Brothers Paul and Mick Stevenson oversee the day to day operations at ERT and as Paul takes the more vocal role in the corner on fight nights, who better to talk us through the progress and ambitions of the fighters currently representing the gym.
Even if you aren’t familiar with some of the names now, take note. If the gym’s run of success continues at its current rate, you’re bound to be seeing and hearing a lot more of them in the not too distant future.
Kevin Satchell, 9-0 (2) – The 24 year old beat three former British champions in 2012 and is scheduled to make the first defence of his domestic flyweight belt against Luke Wilton, 13-2-1 (7), later tonight. His Commonwealth title will also be on the line.
Paul Stevenson - “The Wilton fight is a good one for him. He’s a good, tough opponent. There isn’t a great deal of footage out there but we’ve seen a little bit and kind of know what to expect. We’ll see how it pans out. Kevin concentrates on himself. Even as an amateur, Kevin never really wanted to now who he was boxing or was bothered about watching tapes. He’s just very professional in his attitude.
“Kevin loves being on the big David Price bills at the Echo Arena but it’s just good for him to keep doing what he’s doing and progressing. He’s achieved a lot in a small number of fights but he’s really just starting out. Hopefully as we go along he’ll move onto bigger and better things. We aren’t underestimating Luke Wilton. Kev will be ready for the fight.”
James “Jazza” Dickens, 13-0 (5) – Dickens could be Britain’s breakout star of 2013. Highly thought of by boxing insiders and spoken of in reverential tones by the Merseyside boxing press, the 23 year old was nominated to fight Kid Galahad for the English belt, Galahad withdrew and Dickens is awaiting the opportunity to display his talents to a wider audience.
“Jazza’s in training and it’s full steam ahead as always. He’s a dynamo and someone who loves to train and be in the gym. We’re not sure who we’re gonna get for that date but whoever it is we’ll be ready.
“If you look at it from his [Galahad’s] point of view, you’ve got – although I don’t like to say it – a lesser title. He’s probably next in line for a British title shot I’d imagine. It’s a big risk for him and hats off to him if he takes it. I’m not trying to guess what’s in Kid Galahad’s mind, the English title might be something he wants. It’s certainly something Jazza want’s so we’ll see how it goes.
“I’d like that fight to come off. I think it’s good that young fighters put it on the line a bit and get good fights. It sounds weird that you can go through the pro’s and find it hard to get fights but it can. A genuine fight is one you have a chance of losing and a lot of people don’t wanna take them. I believe in those risks because when you come through something tough it gives you added confidence and a good gauge of where you’re upto.”
Tom Stalker – The decorated amateur wisely spent a few months deciding which route to take following his disappointing exit from the Olympic Games. Having decided to switch codes, the 28 year old light welterweight quickly decided ERT was the place to expand his boxing knowledge.
“Tom’s settled in really well. I’ve been surprised by how quick he picks stuff up and his hunger to pick stuff up. He’s been good to work with and we work with fighters who we think we can make a difference to; those who are receptive and willing to listen and take things on board. Tom’s just the type we like here. He’s a nice lad and a funny character. The gym’s full of mad characters so he’s fitted in well.
“We’re not looking to make big changes to him all at once. If you build a house you do it room by room. Any decent trainer would spend the first weeks and months looking rather than changing. He’s been sparring with Kell Brook and Matthew Hatton and the spars have been giving us good stuff to work on.”
Ryan Farrag, 8-1 – In a recent interview with BoxingScene, Farrag agreed that his ideal 2013 would see him follow in gym mate Satchell’s shoes and go on a tear through the division. The exciting bantamweight brawler certainly won’t be found wanting in the effort department.
“Ryan’s been a bit unlucky. He’s been plagued with a couple of injuries and hasn’t had the chance to pick up momentum in his career. He’ll have a couple of fights and then something will happen. He’s been a bit unlucky.
“It’s not for lack of determination, he works harder than anybody. What we’re looking for this year is that breakthrough fight. Kevin had his when he took on Martin Power. It was a calculated high risk, high reward that went well. We’d like something like that for Ryan.
“He’s got a six rounder in mid-March and I’d like that to be a platform for him to build up some momentum for the rest of the year.”
Steve Lewis, 2-0 (1) – The 20 year old welterweight has racked up two starts – both victories – since turning professional in October. Lewis is a former junior ABA champion and big things are expected of him in the professional ranks.
“I’m very hopeful for Steve Lewis. He’s a very strong young lad and very able. He’s starting to pick things up. He’s been sparring with Argenis Mendes and Stalker and Nathan Brough and it’s been the making of him. He’s done really well.
“He had a good outing last time. It was only two rounds but a tough opponent and he was able to get rid of him. We’d like a nice busy year, have six to eight bouts and just see where we are at the end of the year.”
Nathan Brough, 9-0 (2) – The 6ft tall light welterweight has endured a frustratingly stop-start opening to his career. The talented 28 year old is highly spoken of by his peers but needs to make a move in 2013.
“Nathan’s only been with us for his last fight but I know he’s been out for quite a while with some bad hand injuries. Finger’s crossed but we haven’t had a single day in the gym where he’s had any trouble with his hands. It’s nothing we’re doing, just the good work the doctors have done. We obviously take a great deal of care over his hands every day.
“He’s coming on. He had a fight in December against someone who came to win and it was a good fight [Paul Davies, W PTS6]. Nathan’s probably ahead of that level of opponent but we’d like to use it as a platform. We’ve got a date with no opponent set yet but if we can get him some momentum and get him crackling and firing then there’s the chance of titles later in the year.”
Courtney Fry, 18-3 (6) – Fry hasn’t been beaten since an unsuccessful bid for Nathan Cleverly’s British and Commonwealth light heavyweight titles in 2009. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist and 1998 Olympian’s career received a shot in the arm when he outpointed the previously undefeated Matty Clarkson in October.
“Courtney’s had five or six fights with us and has got himself back on track. It’s just waiting for an opportunity now. Ovill McKenzie and Enzo Macarinelli seem tied up and nobody’s sure what’s happening with Tony Bellew and his British title. Ideally, if Bellew does well in his WBC eliminator and vacates, Courtney’s still a marquee name and he could move in and box for that title.
“Courtney’s paid his dues for a long time. Obviously he’s not at the start of his career and it’d be brilliant for him. I’d like to see him win that British title, make a few quid and achieve something. Courtney’s the big daddy of the gym. All the lads love him and he’s in every day with a big smile on his face. Everyone wants to see Courtney do well.”
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