Frome super-featherweight Ryan Wheeler has taken confidence from time spent in the company of world-class gym mates Lee Haskins and Lee Selby and believes he too can one day make a name for himself on the world stage.
The talented 22-year-old, who boxes out of the Bristol Boxing Gym, has his fourth professional fight on November 14 at Bristol’s City Academy and has enjoyed sparring sessions with both Haskins and Selby in preparation for it.
“Since I turned pro, I’ve always said that I just want to be able to look back at my career, in ten years’ time, and think to myself I gave it a proper go and gave it my best shot,” said Wheeler.
“But, in the last six months, I’ve sparred Selby and Haskins and I’ve felt comfortable in there with them. I’ve been feeling good.
“I spent a lot of time sparring Haskins for his last fight and we had some really good, close spars. It gave me the confidence to think that I can go on and one day achieve what Haskins and Selby have achieved. Based on our sparring, there’s no reason why I can’t be at that level one day.”
Wheeler’s love affair with boxing started a little over ten years ago when he found himself embroiled in a playground fight at school. It would prove to be a humbling experience, but from it he grew an affinity with his conqueror and discovered a direct route to boxing.
“I got into a fight at school and the guy beat me up pretty bad,” he said. “Afterwards we were sat outside the headteacher’s office and I asked him, ‘How come you are so good at fighting?’ He said, ‘I do boxing.’ I asked him if I could join him at the boxing club and straight away we became pretty good friends.
“I started training and just really wanted to get better than him. That was my first motivation.”
Wheeler went on to have 52 amateur bouts in total and bagged the Midlands Championship. He then turned professional in October 2014 with a draw against Elvis Makoda. Since then, however, he has won two on the bounce, shown vast improvements and is being touted by Chris and Jamie Sanigar, the men behind Lee Haskins and Lee Selby, as one for the future.
“I like to think I’m quite a clever fighter,” he said. “I like to get involved and have a scrap, but I’m probably best at counter-punching.”
As for Haskins, Wheeler fully expects his gym-mate, the current IBF interim bantamweight champion, to wrest the IBF world bantamweight title from Randy Caballero when the pair meet on November 21 in Las Vegas.
“This fight with Caballero has come along at a great time for Lee,” said Wheeler. “He’s in very good form, he’s looking better than ever and he’ll go to Vegas full of confidence.
“He just needs to relax and do what he normally does – be unpredictable, be explosive. Caballero won’t have fought anyone with Lee’s style before and that could be a factor in the fight.”
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