Sharpshooting Guisborough stylist Josh Leather believes he’s developed the firepower to make him a genuine title threat in Britain’s flourishing super-lightweight division.
The 25 year old former ABA champion and England amateur captain has impressed all whilst cruising to a dozen straight pro wins since debuting in September 2013. And joltin’ Josh has leathered his last five victims long before the judges’ cards were called.
Consequently the 5ft 10in stylist believes he finally has the full package needed to overthrow Commonwealth king Josh Taylor or British boss Jack Catterall, who join him as genuine contenders to be considered Britain’s brightest prospect at any weight.
‘Trust me, I’d love to fight those guys but I don’t think Frank (Warren, his promoter) wants to send me that route just yet. He wants to get my IBF ranking up even higher then maybe target the European,’ says the Middlesbrough born man who is coached by Imran Naeem at the Stockton Boxing Academy.
In his last outing at Leeds’ First Direct Arena in May, the ex roofer displayed the full gamut of his unquestionable talent to dazzle then daze 13-1 Dublin destroyer Phil Sutcliffe Jnr (to defeat inside six rounds).
‘That was probably the best performance that I’ve done,’ acknowledges the former three time national junior champ who has been boxing since the age of nine.
‘Everything went to plan. I knew Phil would come and give a strong fight but I boxed him beautifully before dropping the right hand on him.
‘People said I couldn’t punch but, as the opposition has got better, I’ve stopped five on the bounce now. Due to all the strength and conditioning work that I do, I’ve become a lot stronger physically. I’ve the experience of coping with different opponents with different styles but also my mindset has become nasty, more spiteful. I now understand when my opponent is hurt and how to apply the pressure. Consequently, I’m getting the job done quicker.’
The Sutcliffe slaughter brought the IBF Inter-Continental crown plus a world ranking of 14 and lightening Leather hopes to enhance that and collect the sanctioning body’s IBF East/West European bauble when he confronts regional rival Glenn Foot from Sunderland at Newcastle’s Metro Arena on Saturday. He can hardly contain his excitement.
‘Fighting in the north-east allows more of my Guisborough fans to attend on buses. I expect to sell a lot of tickets. They’re a very noisy, lively crew and it’s growing every time I fight in the north-east. Hopefully, one day, I’ll headline this arena myself,’ says Leather.
‘The region produces lots of top juniors. As an amateur, I always found winning the north-east division the hardest part when I won my national titles but there wasn’t much of a pro scene so the top lads would drift away. Other than (IBF Super-Bantam challenger) Michael Hunter from Hartlepool, I didn’t have many local heroes to inspire me, growing up.
‘That’s why it’s important all the local lads deliver in style on November 11th….apart from Glenn Foot, of course!’
Main event on a huge evening of boxing in Newcastle sees former WBO Super-Welterweight World Champion Liam Smith (25-1-1) rematch with bitter rival and current British Champion Liam Williams (16-1-1)
Country Durham’s Thomas Patrick Ward (20-0) defends his British Super-Bantamweight Championship against Brimingham’s Sean Davis (13-1-0)
Ricky Hatton-trained Heavyweight talent Nathan Gorman (10-0) faces undefeated German Heavyweight Mohamed Soltby (13-0) for the Vacant WBC International Heavyweight title.
Explosive Super-Middleweight Mark Heffron (Oldham, 16-0) another of Ricky Hatton’s excellent young stable of fighters, takes on former Tommy Langford and Jamie Cox opponent Lewis Taylor (19-4-1); undefeated Jeff Saunders (11-0) of Sedgefield takes on undefeated Liverpudlian Steven Lewis (14-0)
In addition, local prospects Troy Williamson (Darlington, 3-0) Kalam Leather (Guisborough, 2-0) Joe Maphosa (Thornaby, 1-0) and Michael Watson (Sedgefield, Pro debut) will all appear on the bill.
Tickets for Smith v Williams 2 priced at £40, £50, £70, £100, £150 and £250 are available from Metro Radio Arena 0844 493 6666 www.metroradioarena.co.uk