Saunders has grown in stature says trainer Tibbs
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 June 2011
Billy Joe Saunders has turned from a boy to a man during his stay at Newham’s TKO Gym, according to his training team Jimmy and Mark Tibbs.
The precocious Hertford traveller went to the Olympics as an 18-year-old before turning pro with Frank Warren, but has really flourished in the past 12 months in the famous cockney camp run by Johnny Eames.
He’s won his first nine fights at a canter – but there is much more to come, according to his father and son training duo, who are preparing him for his first championship fight as a professional on July 9 at London’s ExCeL Arena.
He challenges Gary Boulden for the Southern Arena middleweight title, and Mark Tibbs believes fans are in for a treat.
“When Billy Joe came to the gym when he first turned pro, you could see he had all the talent in the world,” he said.
“But young fighters take a bit of time to mature, and I think Billy Joe needed that couple of years to find his feet.
“He’s done exceptionally well so far, but in the last few months we’ve noticed a real improvement.
“He knows how to handle himself now, he’s learnt some little tricks that you will always need as a professional fighter.
“They’re not dirty tricks like elbows or headbutts, but he knows how to look after himself now.
“In sparring he’s handling light-heavyweights, cruiserweights, no problem, and I think he’s found out what he needs on the mental side of things as well.
“He knows what it takes in terms of dedication and commitment to make it to the top, and that knowledge is going to make him a very dangerous opponent in the next couple of years.
“I would have thought that this Southern Area title could be the first of many belts. I don’t want to put any pressure on Billy Joe, and we are taking this fight very seriously.
“But in the next 12 months or so I can see him going on to fight for some major belts.”
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