"It's been a crazy year hasn't it?" Ponders Dave Coldwell. A period that began with disappointment finished with a similar feeling but the success in between was enough to leave the Sheffield trainer with a satisfied feeling during our chat. A central character of world title action and domestic grudge matches, Coldwell has endured and enjoyed his 2017 in boxing, but hopes that the brief setbacks he suffered during the last 12 months can be rectified in 2018.
"There's high standards in my gym so when a result goes against us then we all feel it. Gavin McDonnell had a hard fight against Rey Vargas for the world title in February, and it wasn't his night. He performed well enough to suggest to me that he can get to that level again. He's rebounded well since with a few wins but we want him back there as soon as possible. Vargas was just a little too good on the night, and there's nothing wrong with losing to a top fighter like him. As long as Gavin learns from it then he'll be ok."
One week after McDonnell's defeat, Coldwell resumes corner duties for Tony Bellew as the popular Liverpudlian upset the odds to earn victory over David Haye. Coldwell is quick to point out that this was his personal highlight of a hectic schedule.
"I still get a buzz now thinking about it. It was an emotional night with so much on the line for everybody involved. The stuff that I had to put up with in the build-up was like nothing I'd seen before, but I knew all along that if the real Tony Bellew turned up, he'd win no doubt. He listened to tactics and instructions superbly that night, and it was a big moment for him after hearing for months that he wouldn't make it out of the first round. Tony is a much better fighter than people think so it's finally been great to see him get the credit he deserves. He was boxing brilliantly until the freak injury, listening to all my instructions, but once Haye was restricted, tactics went out the window and Bellew did what he had to do."
Bellew's opportunity to accomplish more superiority over Haye in a rematch was shelved due to a bicep injury sustained by the Londoner, that news came days after Jamie McDonnell fought to a No Contest Liborio Solis in Monaco. Both occasions had featured intense preperations overseen by Coldwell, and the Yorkshireman is refusing to let the year's end woes hamper his plans for 2018.
"It's boxing. It is what it is. I'm fully aware that this stuff happens, but twice in the space of a few days can be a kick in the balls. Jamie was desperate to put a show on following the first fight with Solis so you can imagine how hard he took that. As for Bellew, this was another massive fight on the big stage, and the rewards for another victory would've been huge. Both fighters are ok now, and they're desperate to get back in there and perform on the highest platforms available. Bellew gets Haye again in May on Sky Box Office, and hopefully there'll be something for Jamie announced soon.
Away from the prestigious nights, Coldwell also contributed massively to the ring education's of Anthony Fowler and Jordan Gill. The pair joined the Coldwell stable and both have made successful starts to their stint with their new coach. Coldwell admits that there is still work to be done but he's happy with what he's seen so far.
"It's still early days for both, but they each have to push on in the next year. Fowler has some fantastic natural attributes, and he's very eager to learn, but I want to get him boxing more so he doesn't always have to rely on his power. That'll come soon enough. Jordan has been a good addition to the gym. I've been impressed with Jordan since he first walked through my door, and I'd also heard a lot of good stuff about him. I think both may well end up in title fights in 2018, as long as they keep progressing the way I want them to. Jordan is in a great position as he's close to an English title fight, so if we can get that sorted soon then the next year can be a really breakout year for him."