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Prospects – Jez Wilson

Wilson celebrates a recent win
Wilson celebrates a recent win

By Andrew Wake: There has only ever been one world champion from Great Britain to retire undefeated, his name was Terry Marsh and his nickname was “The Fighting Fireman”. Well, over twenty years since the former IBF light-welter kingpin was forced to hang up his gloves, we have another fireman looking to make a mark on the pugilistic map and he is called “Smoking” Jez Wilson.

The 28 year old Sheffield based boxer may earn his living with a rewarding occupation in Fire and Rescue but that does not distract him from his training and his hopes of achieving great things in the ring. However, the question is, despite only turning pro last year, at his current age is, Wilson too old to be considered a prospect? Not so, says his manager and trainer, Glyn Rhodes.

“At 28, he’s already done all the things that distract young fighters.” Glyn said. “I don’t see his age being a factor and I believe he can go far.”

It’s an opinion Jez himself agrees with. “I know good things will come to me, especially if I’m training like I am now,” he said. “Some boxers fight because it’s all they know, but I’ve got a full time job and I’m as dedicated as they are because I want to do it. At the minute I’m just enjoying how it’s going.”

Originally hailing from Wolverhampton, Wilson took up boxing as a teenager but admits that it wasn’t something he took entirely seriously back then.

“I messed about with it (boxing) from when I was about 14 until I was about 18, but then I did what everyone that age does, you know, I got more interested in women and going out with my friends. When I got to 21 or 22, I got a taste for it again.

“I found the amateur game a bit frustrating because as soon as you start to get going the three or four rounds are over. I had about 16 or 17 amateur fights and then Glyn asked me if I wanted to turn. He told me that my style didn’t suit the amateurs but I knew I had to do it to get my foot in the door to turn professional.”

At the Grosvenor Hotel in his adopted home city, Wilson made his debut in the paid ranks in April 2007 against Bradford based super-middleweight Peter Cannon. He got the victory, but it was by no means an easy fight.

“Peter Cannon boxed one of the lads from our gym in the amateurs and we knew him as a bit of a runner. He was taller than me and a bit wiry so he looked to keep me on the end of his jab and I was getting frustrated in my corner, but Glyn told me not to worry and said that I’d catch up with him. He was right because in the fifth I did catch up with him and I stopped him.”

In his next outing, he blasted out Oldham’s Jon Foster in the opening round – a victory made all the more impressive by the fact that Foster had previously taken South Wales’ prospect Nathan Cleverly the scheduled distance in a four rounder.

Last November, Jez made it three KOs in three contests with a stoppage of fellow firefighter Nigel Travis. It was an engaging toe to toe war with both men sustaining cuts, but Wilson was just that bit stronger and sharper and, after putting Travis under immense pressure in the fourth frame, referee Howard Foster was forced to waive the bout off. The fight was of double importance for Wilson as, not only did it give him another W on his résumé, the bill also helped raise funds for the families of the four firemen tragically killed at a blaze in a Warwickshire warehouse a few weeks earlier.

Wilson’s most recent contest saw him edge past the tricky Welshman, Jamie Ambler. Conceding a head in height and over 10 pounds in weight, Wilson boxed smartly on his way to a points victory over six-twos, but it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Sheffield puncher.

“At one stage I was struggling to reach his head.” Wilson admitted, “He (Ambler) was very awkward and tall. He likes to tuck up on the ropes and you look to get your shots off, he fires back. He was tough and I was glad of the win.”

With four wins and three stoppages from his first four fights in the paid ranks, who does Wilson attribute his success to? His trainer and manager Glyn Rhodes, of course.

“Without Glyn I don’t think I’d have stuck at the sport. He’s 100% boxing, he lives and breaths it and that rubs off on his fighters. He’s so good to work with and we (the fighters in Glyn’s stable) know that he’s always got our best interests at heart.”

So what next for “Smoking” Jez?

“I was due to fight at the Barnsley Metrodome on the 28th (March), but I hurt my back in training so it’s looking like May 9 on Glyn Rhodes’ next show in Sheffield.”

It’s impossible to know at this stage who Wilson will be in against in May but, if his previous tear-ups are anything to go off, it’s sure to be a barnstormer.

March 18, 2008

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