By Alistair Hendrie
While Liverpool currently boasts some of the best fighters in the country, the Everton Red Triangle ABC has been a large part of the town’s success story. Kevin Satchell, the British and Commonwealth flyweight champion, has trained at the gym since he was 12. “We started from absolutely nothing and now we have top guys like Jazza Dickens and Tom Stalker training with us,” says Satchell.
“We’ve always worked hard at the gym to get we are today. We’ve never been given anything on a plate – far from it. By doing charity events for gloves and other equipment, we were able to give a lot back to the club and now we’re reaping the rewards.”
Satchell defends his belts against Luke Wilton, the Northern Irishman, on February 23 at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, and the likeable scouser will be eager to continue a thrilling vein of form that has seen him race to an undefeated record after nine fights.
A tall flyweight at 5 foot 6, Satchell’s bustling energy and pressure brought him a British title win over Chris Edwards in October, while he also defeated former British champions Paul Edwards and Martin Power in a breakout 2012. He attributes his progress to his long-term coach and mentor, Paul Stevenson.
Satchell bristles with warmth and says: “I’ve been with him since I was 12 and ever since I started out with him, even to this day, he’s never stopped teaching me new things. He knows me inside out. He knows when I’m having a good day and when I’m having a bad day.”
Stevenson himself has been an integral part of Everton Red Triangle’s remarkable rise and according to Satchell, his knowledge spreads through every aspect of the club. “Even with our amateurs, he’s such a focused trainer. A lot of the time coaches don’t actually continue teaching you how to box when you turn but professional, but Paul still does. He’ll show us videos, different shots, different ways to set up attacks. He’ll always teach us something new no matter what.”
A string of three fights on David Price undercards has given Satchell valuable exposure, though that can sometimes breed a sense of complacency amid the hype of big fights. Despite his undefeated record, Satchell admits he is still learning and is remarkably grounded, perhaps due to his humble introduction into the sport well over a decade ago.
“With every fight you take, there’s always a risk you’ll come unstuck,” Satchell confesses. “It’s so important for me to stay undefeated. I know if I lose now, I’ll be back to the drawing board and fighting six or eight rounders. People will sometimes doubt you before you take another big fight, but every time I step up to the plate I seem to get the job done. I’ve waited a long time for this British title and I’m not letting it go now.”
Regardless, Wilton will travel to Liverpool hungry to upset the home favourite after three straight knockouts over journeymen in Northern Ireland. He is unbeaten since June 2009, although Satchell’s recent work on adding more clout to his punches may give the champion a sizeable advantage.
“When I beat Delroy Spencer in July 2011,” Satchell remembers, “I worked on changing my technique and stance. That was the first time I really learned how to relax in the ring; if I do that the power comes and I can sit down on my shots more.”
“Spencer’s a tough guy, he took some great shots and he knows how to survive. But I still took so much from that and gained a lot of confidence before my fight with Power. Even though I didn’t knock Power out, I beat him up badly and have since got my first two knockout victories over Paul and Chris Edwards.”
Granted, during his fight with Power last January, Satchell came of age against the veteran and displayed formidable accuracy and power. In the second round, as Power swung a winging left, Satchell leant back and caught his rival on the chin with a tremendous right cross. Power crumpled to the canvas immediately and although Satchell couldn’t grasp a stoppage, Power never truly recovered. Does Satchell think he can knock out Wilton?
“Yes. Definitely,” he affirms. “I’m not saying he’s chinny or anything but with my height and power at the weight, I don’t think he’ll be able to take my shots. He always starts off fast but so do I. I know he’s hungry for my belts but considering the mood I’m in now, I’ll be bringing the fight just as much as him.”
As Liverpool continues to prosper with stalwarts such as Price and Tony Bellew on the cusp of world titles, you can forgive Satchell for glancing into the future with a carefully laid plan. “There’s only five or six British guys ranked at featherweight so I don’t have much left to do before I can move further,” says Satchell. “Depending on how things go, I’d like to fight for the European title by the end of the year.”
“It’s been a dream of mine to box at places like the Echo Arena so I’ve already achieved so much even though I’m only 24. These big bills at the Echo Arena and the Olympia have really helped Liverpool’s boxing scene. A lot of our lads are now challenging at British and World level and when I see that, I want it for myself. It’s something that drives me to work harder.”
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