SAM BOWEN BELIEVES his domestic super featherweight rivals have simply been feasting on his leftovers while he has been out of action.
'Bullet' Bowen has been marked absent since March when he made a first defence of his British title against Jordan McCorry in Leicester, stopping the Scot in the ninth round of a roughhouse encounter that saw McCorry docked two points for illegal manoeuvres.
The 15-0 champion was then sidelined with a back injury that saw him miss out on a summer defence of his crown, which will now take place against the avoided Belfast man Anthony Cacace at Arena, Birmingham on November 30.
During Bowen's enforced absence, both Archie Sharp and Zelfa Barrett took the opportunity of measuring themselves up against the game McCorry. Sharp defended his WBO European title with a points victory, while Barrett put his Commonwealth belt on the line and won via a ninth round stoppage.
Sharp and Barrett both delivered impressive performances and laid claim to be leader of the Brit Pack, but Bowen questions the validity of the statements posted by the pair because he suspects the motivation of McCorry was diminished following the bruising defeat to himself.
"They've only boxed the lad I boxed in March," pointed out the 27-year-old from Ibstock. "He's been beat and wasn't really that bothered. Another loss to him was nothing.
"So they've gone and beat him, which was expected," added Bowen, who doesn't feel that McCorry boxed with the same intensity against Sharp and Barrett as he did when up against himself.
"He was quite dirty when he fought me, with avoiding body shots by going low. The when he fought Sharp he started off a bit slower than I thought he would, where I thought he might have a chance.
"I said to Carl (trainer/manager Greaves) the other day that if Zelfa knocked him out in the first round it wouldn't really mean a lot to me because he's had a few losses and knows he hasn't got many more fights left in him and he was being paid half-alright for it."
Bowen was also an interested viewer when Sharp subsequently fought the lively Irishman Declan Geraghty at the Royal Albert Hall and suspects he has identified a weakness in the 'Sharpshooter' that Geraghty was unable to exploit due to being of the same ilk as a fighter.
"They both boxed very, very similar - hands low, flashy, moving - and looked exactly the same when I watched it. Then he caught him and knocked him out with a good shot.
"He don't like pressure though, I know that. The last few rounds when he boxed McCorry he was just on the back foot and I could tell he was uncomfortable.
"I thought, if that was me and I was landing the shots and hitting him, he ain't gonna like that, Sharp or Barrett."
So, should Cacace be accounted for in Birmingham at the end of the month, which name out of Sharp and Barrett would be written on the bullet?
"Either, I'm not fussed. I think if I fought Sharp it would probably be more awkward because I'd have to track him down as he would be running. With Zelfa it would be more of a scrap because he likes to trade a little bit.
"I'd beat them both though so it makes no difference to me."