Josh Leather made it nine wins from nine fights by stopping Pal Olah in the second round of their Super Lightweight contest at Gateshead Leisure Centre last night.
After seeing Josh unleash a ferocious flurry of punches that forced the referee to intervene, you start to wonder just how far this gifted young athlete can go in the sport. Determination and dedication are essential for anyone wanting to be a success in the boxing ring—Josh has a huge amount of both. His training regime is almost brutal; and he is blessed with lightning speed and no little power, skills that are being refined and developed by a coaching team led by a very good friend of mine; Imran Naeem.
Well I say “very good friend”, but Imran certainly tested that friendship when he slightly altered a charity challenge of “training” with a professional boxer to “sparring” some eighteen months ago. In fairness, Imran did assure me that Josh wouldn’t hit me in the face... exactly forty-two seconds after the opening bell; he hit me in the face....
If he’d wanted to hit me sooner, he could have done—and there wouldn’t have been a thing I could have done about it. I never even saw the punch that stung my upper lip... nor the ones that hit me in the nose and the eye. I drove home that night grateful that my albeit wonky teeth were still intact, proud that I’d stepped into the ring and at least given it a go, and full of respect for Josh and the sport in which he excels.
I also know a couple of people who’ve trained and fought to raise money for charity—Ian Jones, a former cricket team mate, and Adam Rowe, a Liverpool comedian who I met at my second stand-up performance (I think it’s safe to say my attempt at boxing was funnier). To do it “for real” takes far more guts that I possess and they both have my absolute admiration... to do it for a living; well that’s something else altogether....
For all the talent, hard work, strength and desire in one corner, there’s exactly the same coming out from the opposite corner. The rewards for victory can be incredible, but the consequences of defeat can be far greater; so today I congratulate Josh and the rest of Team Leather on another notable success, I send my best wishes to Nick Blackwell who was hospitalised after his tenth round loss to Chris Eubank Jr., and I salute all those who have the courage to dedicate their lives to the “sweet science”.