Rising Brighton heavyweight destroyer Tommy Welch believes his genetics, coupled with an insatiable work ethic, will allow him to extend his family’s formidable fighting legacy.
Dad Scott, the original ‘Brighton Rock’, captured British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles and lasted the full course in a bold WBO world title challenge to Henry Akinwande in the 1990s and tenacious Tommy, a multiple national champion and England rep as an amateur, hopes to replicate.
‘Today Dad guides, trains, manages, does everything,’ says the Shoreham-born 26 year old who has triumphed in all four pro starts since debuting last December.
‘He has taught me everything he knew plus what he didn’t know but has learned since. I was born with his big heart and big balls, his natural aggression and skills. One time he taught me tough love. I was ballsy: ‘Lets go!’ and, playing about, he flicked me with a body shot that nearly broke me in half!
‘I was only four when Dad retired but I’ve vague memories of him coming home cut and bruised after big fights,’ continued the 6ft 3 ½in, 234lb colossus who works in the family’s care home business.
‘Dad was certainly responsible for getting me into the world of training. It’s a really lovely part of the country down here but we still have our bad streets and bad gyms and lots of the tough kids in the area trained at his gym. Dad tried to encourage the boxing but I just didn’t want to do it.
‘From the age of eight onwards, I was always happy to spar in the back garden and, by age 11, I was sparring grown men. I was always a big kid, I really liked fighting, just didn’t enjoy the other aspects of boxing training. Initially I found my feet in rugby, a very tough sport, lots of fighting on and off the pitch and I enjoyed the thrill of that. I was a temperamental boy, an angry kid with a terrible temper. Once I saw a red rag, I’d fight as hard as I could.’
Eventually, inevitably, he was bitten by the boxing bug.
‘Once boxing gets a hold of you, you can’t shake it off. It’s the respect you get from people when they know you’re a fighter,’ says Tommy who is co-coached by ex-Marine Ben Pringle at the same Brighton and Hove ABC gym where his father broke sweat.
‘Growing up, I generally tried to be a polite, respectful kid – I was the class joker - but it wasn’t always easy being Scott Welch’s boy. There’s always people who’ll try to cross you and, as a fighting man, you can’t shy away. You have to look after yourself, protect yourself.
‘I had my first sanctioned bout when I was a 91 kilo 14 year old against a 15 year old who was 103 kilos. I lost a home decision. Everyone thought I won. The hall was an absolute war zone; the type that can make or break you. Dad lost his first amateur fight too so I’m in good company.’
Since launching himself into the paid brigade late last year, walloper Welch has ruthlessly dispatched all four victims in six rounds combined.
‘The amateurs is pure sport but professional boxing has been tougher than I expected,’ he claims.
‘Its very business orientated and Dad’s name has proved an advantage in getting me on different shows when other boys haven’t been fighting, so I’m blessed there. The Welch name rings bells but I’m not getting my respect yet. Others at my level already have more hype but they’re pretty average.
‘Dad was a smaller man than me but he was a fast heavyweight and a real roughhouse. I’m naturally more of a boxer but I prefer to fight. At the level I’m at, it’s not about being tough and taking shots. It’s defence, defence, defence, then attack, pick ‘em apart.
‘I see my job being to win, in and out, quick as you can. not please others. Boxing’s a very damaging sport. If journeymen invite me in, I accept and destroy them.
‘I can always hone my skills in the 20 rounds of sparring I do in a day. I’ve sparred the likes of Dubois, Chisora, Dillian Whyte, Fabio Wardley. Top level. The better sparring opposition, the better you can practice your work to be fully ready for your fights.’
Young Welch shall profit from crucial nationwide free-to-air Channel 5 coverage on Saturday 10th September of his four rounder against Spain’s Alvaro Terrero on promoter Mick Hennessy’s mega show from the Coventry Skydome Arena.
‘Fans can expect to witness explosions with skill,’ concludes the Sussex starlet.
‘Over the next 12 months I hope to get to 10-0, and slowly, slowly start moving up to six, eight round fights against tougher opposition before gratefully accepting whatever opportunities may come my way.
‘My goal is to become a respected man through boxing, hopefully with a lot of money and a few belts for the cabinet. I want the best career I can possibly have for myself.’