By: Oliver McManus
BoxRec has 1,037 professional boxers from the United Kingdom – male and female – listed as active and, regardless of how you see their rankings, trawling through the pages of boxers throws up so many names that you think “hey, they deserve more recognition” so that’s what this is about – shining the spotlight on some of the best British fighters who deserve more appreciation!
Liam Cameron – Commonwealth Middleweight Champion
Liam Cameron is first up and the Sheffield-based boxer has been in the form of his life these past 12 months, promoted by Dennis Hobson the Commonwealth Champion really upset the apple cart in October of last years as he wore down Sam Sheedy, pre-fight favourite, over the course of eight months in order to claim Commonwealth glory.
Dropping Sheedy to the canvas three times in the fourth round and twice in the seventh, Cameron demonstrated to perfection the level of destruction he has developed as he’s matured as both a boxer and man – his last three wins have come via early stoppage.
21 wins and 5 losses is the resume of a man willing to take risks and Cannonball knows everything about risk-taking having travelled to Australia in 2016 to tackle Zac Dunn and going up against Luke Blackledge in 2015 – Cameron seems to have found his grove in the lighter division having dropped down from super-middle and there’s plenty of opportunity for big fights over the course of the next 12, 18 months.
Tommy Langford, Brian Rose, Chris Eubank Jr, Billy Joe Saunders – Liam Cameron wants them all and, most importantly, he has genuine confidence in his ability to claim the victory should he meet with them in the ring.
A fighter of tremendous quality, Liam is as promising as they come and despite being 27 his best years are, surely, still to come.
Tommy Coyle – former Commonwealth, IBF & WBC International Champion
Hull’s very own, Tommy Coyle is a boxer who, he admits, is “motivated by legacy” and the work he’s doing in and around Hull in order to help young children is admirable but he, himself, is one of the most inspiring boxers Britain has produced.
Coyle’s attitude towards the game is impeccable and his desire to chase glory – no matter at what cost – is what makes him so brilliant to watch – Coyle has been in the ring with quality operators such as Derry Matthews, Luke Campbell, Tyrone Nurse and Michael Katsidis but, regardless of result, you can never say he’s put in a bad performance.
Against Sean Dodd in April he had, on paper, a tough, tough fight which people had down as a genuine 50-50 but Coyle showed that whilst he had plenty of heart and passion he also possess a boxing brain and I say that because the bout started scrappy before Coyle got into his stride, popping out the left jab and really rattling Masher Dodd in the third round, eventually stopping Dodd in the sixth to add the Commonwealth belt to his collection.
Boom Boom has always dreamed of fighting in America and, come September, that ambition will have been realised as now, having vacated the Commonwealth title, Coyle pursues bigger those big fights.
For me what I like best about Tommy is his consistency – whenever he lands a peach of a body shot you can bet your house on the fact he’ll follow through with a cracking shot to the head, it’s his trademark!
Lewis van Poetsch – unapologetic journeyman
Poochi is on the list as a representative of a vast collection of British journeyman that could have made the cut – Youseff Al Hamidi, Kristian Laight, the recently retired Curtis Gargano – but I picked Lewis van Poetsch because of his personality.
It’s hard not to love Lewis, he always comes across well in interviews, he’s a barber and just an all-round happy-chappy. 7 wins, 71 losses and 1 draw, Poochi doesn’t come to the ring with an imperious record but he brings with it a tough challenge for those up-and-coming prospects as well as a lot of flair, making his ring-walk in a dressing gown and a flat cap.
With only 10 KO losses, van Poestch is durable and a solid boxer capable of causing a shock should his opponent not turn up 100% and I’m not a fan of the way the word “journeyman” has become banded about in a derogatory term but there’s a difference between people who aren’t good boxers and journeyman. As I say repeatedly you CANNOT be a bad boxer and still be a good journeyman.
There’s an art-form to it and Lewis is a master. Let’s not forget that without this guy we would the likes of Anthony Joshua, Jorge Linares, Billy Joe Saunders. For every world champion you will be able to count 10 quality journeyman and van Poetsch symbolizes everything that is to be respected within the sport – after all he is the “nation’s favourite journeyman”.
Matty Askin – British Cruiserweight Champion
The Assassin turned professional aged 19 and in the 10 years since that first fight, a points victory over Paul Bonson, Askin has gone through the traditional route of area (Central) – English – British Champion with the behemoth of a man – six foot four – securing that British title in May last year with a convincing sixth round knockout over Craig Kennedy.
Having grown a reputation for being under-stated, Askin has come to life somewhat over the past few weeks taking umbrage with all the hype surrounding Lawrence Okolie and it is my firm belief that Askin would triumph in that fight, should it be made.
The reasoning for that is simple, Matty has stood the test of time and has pretty much seen off every other British-level fighter over the course of the last four, five years and whilst there is certainly an argument to be made that he should be pushing on for higher honours, I would like to see him in one more British battle before elevating himself to the next level.
With 15 knockout wins, it’s easy to look at his record and say “he’s got power” but it’s not as simple as that because YES, he packs power and has proven that time and time again but I’ve always been impressed with how he operates as a technical fighter and that was emphasised with his victory over Tommy McCarthy in 2016.
Surprisingly nimble on his feet for such a big man, we’ve seen Askin tested with the, vastly-underrated Ovill McKenzie and, indeed, Krzysztof Glowacki, but he’s always come back from those losses even more invigorated and determined and for sheer graft alone, Askin deserves all the success he reaps.
Natasha Jonas – WBA International Featherweight Champion
I couldn’t NOT put Natasha Jonas on this list because for such a phenomenal fighter in a relatively small pool of fighters – what with women’s boxing still being a developing sport – all the attention seems to be on Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams.
Yet, despite that, you could argue that Jonas was the first real main-stream female fighter in Britain – having started boxing in 2005, she had won five ABA Championship titles by 2010 – all in the 64kg division – and in 2009 was named as the first women’s boxer on Team GB.
The first ever female boxer from the United Kingdom to qualify for the Olympic Games, she eventually lost in the quarter-finals to, you guessed it, Katie Taylor.
Since turning pro, though, she’s demonstrated more power than either Adams or Taylor and the 34 year old is wasting no time to carve out her way to the top – last time out against Taoussy L’Hadji she faced a woman who had never been knocked out before yet Jonas controlled the tempo of the fight with ease before sending her French opponent to the floor in the seventh.
In a way you could argue it’s helped her that she’s gone, relatively, under-the-radar because it’s enabled the Liverpudlian to hone her trade without too much scrutiny and if you were to look at her first couple performances before comparing them to the most recent, you can tell distinctly that there is more confidence flowing form Natasha, she feels more at ease in the ring and the fights show that, even in a year her range of skills have developed exponentially and, for me, this all builds to her being our next world champion – a potential super-fight with Katie Taylor, even,
As you can tell, then, Britain is blessed with some incredible boxers but it’s not just at the top, with the world champions, that there’s a plethora of talent – it runs all the way throughout the divisions, throughout the level of experience and, boy, does the future look bright!