Kane Baker has thanked the bareknuckle bruisers who have helped him become Eddie Hearn’s new favourite fighter.
Sky Sports viewers saw the 30 year old from Birmingham hand Meshech Speare his first loss last weekend.
That result came only 13 days after he pushed another unbeaten prospect, Aqib Fiaz, close in front of the cameras.
Hearn now looks set to get behind Baker and he says sparring with top bareknuckle boxers has helped turn him into a contender and cult figure among fans.
Baker is a regular visitor to Connelly’s Gym in Birmingham that is part owned by bareknuckle fighter James Connelly.
He said: “There are some proper good fighters in there.
“They are tough and they can box.
“Connelly was a good amateur and Dan Chapman is unbelievable. He was a Great Britain amateur and would have been a good pro if he hadn’t had a car accident.
“Connor Tierney and John Hick were also good amateurs who could have turned pro, but decided to go the bareknuckle route instead.
“I think when bareknuckle boxing first came out, there were a lot of brawlers and swingers, but these days they have some good quality lads with good amateur pedigrees.”
Baker has ruled out a switch to bareknuckle boxing and instead he’s looking for big fights in the gloved game at super-featherweight.
He said: “Eddie said to me after my last fight: ‘Enjoy Christmas and we will get you on a show in the New Year.’
“He kept his word when he said he would get me work after the Fiaz fight fell through the first time and I have no doubt he will keep his word again.
“I think he likes my attitude, the way I take fights at short notice and don’t just turn up to get paid, I come to win.
“I was only going to have one pro fight and now I’m pinching myself that I’ve won on Sky Sports and (manager) Errol (Johnson) is looking for title fights for me.”
Baker has won Midlands honours and lost for the English belt at lightweight, but says he is at his best at 9st 4 lbs.
He fought Conor Benn at WELTERWEIGHT three years ago – and went down fighting in two rounds.
“I never dreamed I would get this far,” said Baker.