Norwich's 'next generation' of fighters ready for special Christmas appearance
© 2013 Mark Hewlett
Four fighters, average age less than 23 years and with seven fights between them, represent the next generation of boxers coming off the Norwich production line.
The quartet – Iain Martell, Joe Steed, Liam Goddard and Owen Blunden – follow into the local ring the likes of Sam Sexton and twins Ryan and Liam Walsh.
The quartet – who appear on a special Christmas show at Norwich’s Airport Holiday Inn on Sunday – are effectively the next off the production line of Graham Everett’s city gym.
The seniors are still parading their talents, on a higher stage – Ryan Walsh defends his British title for the fifth time next weekend – setting the example for the latest generation to follow.
Cruiserweight Martell, at 28, is the senior, with bags of MMA experience but just three fights – and wins – in the pro boxing ranks. Steed – also 3-0 – is 20, Goddard, hoping to build on a debut KO win, is 22, and Blunden, another 20-year-old, is making his pro debut.
“It’s a bit of a new group,” said Everett. “It is what should happen if you are doing it right. There are 15- and 16-year-old boys out there who will be the next generation again at 20 years old.
“These boys are all young, fresh, keen as mustard. They are young men and working alongside and with the likes of the Walsh brothers and having (trainer) Jon Thaxton and his experience makes it a great set-up.
“What we strive to do, which every gym does, is have a conveyor belt of fighters with people coming through and that is how you progress, but obviously at the top we have the champions and everybody looks to become them. There is something for everyone to look up to.
“A good example is Billy Bird – a tremendous achievement for all of us.
“He was a 13st unlicensed fighter who is now Southern Area champion and has just had a huge fight for the English title and he is in the top 10 in the country. That is progress.
“We love what we are doing and we are enjoying it.
Martell comes up against Dmitrij Kalinovskij, Goddard faces Fonz Alexander, Steed opposes Liam Griffiths and the newest kid on the block, Blunden, faces Dylan Draper.
“Liam is an exciting fighter and he faces a tremendously experienced fighter who is a handful and can knock people out on his journeys,” said Everett. “I like Liam a lot; his work ethic is good, his boxing ability is good and his fan base is good - the ingredients of becoming a good professional.”