EVERYONE thought Black Country manager PJ Rowson had lost his marbles after he declared he’d found the future British middleweight champion fighting in the back room of a snooker hall in some place called Trowbridge.
As it turned out, he was right about Nick Blackwell and pretty soon, we will discover if he’s right about Brad ‘The Blade’ Foster as well.
He’s a 21 year-old former kickboxer from some place called Lichfield who fights Josh Wale for the vacant British.super-bantamweight title in Barnsley on Friday, March 8.
“Right from the start, I said he will win the British title,” said Rowson and at 21 years, four months and 17 days, Foster gets the chance to become one of the youngest British champions in recent times.
Foster gets his shot after routing unbeaten Leon Gower in eight rounds for the vacant Midlands Area title in Walsall last July.
It was, says Rowson, “a British-title level performance” – and it shocked Gower’s camp.
‘’Because Foster was coming up from super flyweight, we thought Leon would be too strong and break him down,” said Gower’s trainer, ex-pro Matt Sturgess.
“But he was better than we thought.
“His footwork was brilliant and his punches were very sharp.”
On paper, it seemed a 50-50 encounter, but Gower was prised apart with a surgeon’s precision. He was dropped in the first and handed a beating, touching the canvas again at the end of the eighth round.
Sturgess made the decision to pull Gower out after the eighth.
‘’Brad was disappointed when he pulled out,’’ said Rowson. ‘’He was enjoying himself in there.’’
Foster was just about punch perfect.
So, who is Foster and how come you haven’t heard of him ?
He’s a former multi-weight world kickboxing champion from Lichfield, a lovely city in South Staffordshire that unless you’re into the works of the 18thCentury wit Dr Samuel Johnson or cathedrals, you may not be familiar with.
A boxing city, it isn’t.
Foster became the first pro from Lichfield for a decade when he made his paid debut just six weeks after his 18th birthday, in December, 2015.
By then, he was already something of a veteran in combat sports.
Brad was nine years old when he started kickboxing and by the time he finished, he had won nine versions of world titles at four weights and fought around the globe.
Of his 59 fights – 56 wins – 90% of them were full contact and Foster regards it as a good apprenticeship.
“It got me used to the pressure,’’ said Foster, ‘’and when I was kickboxing, I always used my hands more than my feet.”
Foster turned over without any amateur boxing experience after coming to Rowson’s attention.
“I was told there was this young kick boxer I had to see,” said Rowson, “so I drove over to Birmingham and saw this flyweight sparring middleweights and super middleweights !
“He was giving it to them as well. That convinced me Brad has got what it takes.”
Foster took kickboxing coaches Paul Collins and Paul Murphy with him and he’s learned from sparring the Yafai brothers, Kal and Gamal.
“When he’s under the pressure Brad really digs deep and Gives It back,’’ said Kal, the WBA super-flyweight champion.
“For him to be as good as he is without amateur background is crazy.’’
Rowson says Foster ‘’wants to test himself’’ against the best fighters around and added: “Brad is growing and who knows where (what weight division) he will end up ?
“I’ve always thought he would win multiple British titles – and he’s got the time to go further.
“I believe he’s special.”