By John Evans
At British title level the light-welterweight division is a melting pot of styles, personalities and potentially exciting match ups. There is, however, a major but familiar problem preventing the majority of fans from enjoying some evenly matched and exciting fights — a lack of television dates.
We live in an age where television dates are restricted for the chosen few and where having a television deal is arguably more important than holding a title. It’s a crying shame and a sad truth but without the stage to display their talents, some good fighters are practically invisible to all but the sports hardcore fans and the casuals are missing out on exciting, high quality matches. It is probably no exaggeration to say that to a lot of British boxing fans, Britain’s 140lb division starts with Amir Khan and ends with Paul McCloskey.
Huddersfield’s Tyrone Nurse is one of a talented but criminally under publicised group of fighters campaigning at light welterweight. The 23 year old may only have a single blemish on his 25-1 (5) record but is still to make a real impact on the division.
“It’s a stacked division,” Nurse told Boxingscene recently. “There’s a lot of depth to it. You’ve got Darren Hamilton [current British champion], myself, Curtis Woodhouse, Lenny Daws, Ashley Theophane, Dale Miles, Adil Anwar. There are tonnes of them! There’s probably a good 15-18 fighters there and there are lots of opponents who can help you bridge the gap [to the top level]. A lot of us haven’t got the promoters who can make those fights though. That’s the problem.
“A lot of those fights are ones that need a title, even if it’s just a minor one as they aren’t really viable six round fights. It’s a case of getting them on to big shows but with the lack of promoters it’s hard.
“Those are the fights I want but the way boxing is at the moment, you’ve only got Eddie Hearn. If you haven’t got a promoter who can pull the strings — like myself at the moment — you just have to take the fights you can get. You’re in a bit of a no man’s land really if you haven’t got a promoter. It’s a case of staying fit. The board has to make their eliminators for the titles and they have their rankings so they’ll happen eventually. If it’s a good fight, you never know Eddie Hearn or whoever might decide to put it on a show.”
Nurse’s last outing came in February against Joe Elfidh. Although he won’t thank me for saying it, the 32-year-old has quickly become a useful measuring stick for the country’s light welterweights. Any hopes Nurse had of gauging his performance against those of former Elfidh opponents Scott Harrison and Kieran Farrell were stunted after just two rounds when Elfidh aggravated a shoulder injury and was forced to retire. Nurse left with the Central Area title and a huge sense of disappointment.
“I was absolutely devastated after all the training,” he said. “I was more disappointed for my fans really. They’d paid to come and watch and I didn’t even get to start working really. I expected him to come out strongly the way he did and my aim was to catch him with a few counters, get through the first few rounds and let him blow himself out.”
Given the brevity of the bout, should any promoters decide that the time is right to test their fighter, Nurse is ready to go again quickly. “I’m always in the gym so as long as my weights adequate in terms of getting the last few pounds off I’m always ready really.”
For the time being, Nurse’s sights are set on the English title. Dave Coldwell promotes former champion Curtis Woodhouse and showed Nurse’s fight with Elfidh on his excellent Coldwell Television App. Had Woodhouse beaten Shayne Singleton a fortnight ago, in the first defence of his title, a fight between him and Nurse would have been a big draw in Yorkshire and given Nurse that elusive opportunity to make a significant breakthrough. As it is, Singleton was the beneficiary of a dubious decision and Nurse must now wait for developments.
“So I’ve heard,” said Nurse when questioned about Coldwell’s reported interest in making the fight. “I don’t know where we stand with Shayne because he’ll have a voluntary defence. It’s down to whether the board mandate me for it. I know my dad [Nurse’s trainer Chris Aston] has spoken to them about it. The general talk on the forums is that Shane’s gonna lose it in his first defence! That doesn’t speak to highly of Shayne but for the voluntary you get to pick who you’re fighting don’t you.”
“I watched the first five or six rounds,” Nurse says of the controversial Woodhouse–Singleton fight. “I was out at a restaurant, but from what I saw Shane was out-boxing him in spurts but Curtis was working well to the body and trying to close the gap. I’ve not seen the second half of the fight but everyone’s saying it was quite a controversial decision. It’s boxing and it depends what kind of work you like.”
Before we leave Nurse, we should give him one last chance to sell the division and attract some well deserved, and much needed, attention to himself and his fellow fighters. If you see a poster advertising a small hall show featuring any of the names mentioned over the next few months and waver about attending, take the plunge and go. It’s highly unlikely you will leave disappointed.
“It’s a very varied division,” concluded Nurse. “Each of us has got something a little bit better than the others in a certain department so all of them would be good fights really. It’s just a case of them coming off. I’d like to be holding the English belt by the end of the season and then be looking towards the British by the end of the year.”
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