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Prospects - Ross Burkinshaw

By Andrew Wake: In recent years we have seen a healthy crop of serving soldiers take the discipline they have learned in the Army and apply to the hard life of being a prize fighter. Nigel Benn, Carl Johannesson and David Barnes are just some of the examples of men that learned their pugilistic trade in the armed forces and have since applied their BE THE BEST attitude to the ring with exceptional results.

The 21 year old Sheffield bantamweight Ross "The Boss" Burkinshaw, a serving soldier with the elite army regiment The Rifles, believes he can follow the lead set by the aforementioned squaddies and fulfil title aspirations of his own.

"Through being in the Army, he’s got discipline that a lot of fighters don’t have." Burkinshaw’s manager and trainer, Glyn Rhodes said. "He’s a good trainer and he’s got it all, ability and attitude wise."

While many upcoming fighters struggle to combine their day to day work with training, Ross seems to have found the perfect vocation. He said: "I stay at home and train everyday and it’s like my job for the Army apart from recruiting. I go around schools and do talks and it’s good PR for the forces.

"If I did get called back then I’d have to go because my Army career is paramount to me boxing, but I’m just enjoying the way things are going at present."

After doing jujitsu at an early age, Ross turned to boxing at eight and has been hooked on the sport ever since. He took part in his first amateur fight aged 11 and reached the pinnacle of his unpaid career when, still just 17, he faced Hollington ABC’s Stuart Langley in the 2005 senior ABA final.

He lost that bout at London’s Excel Centre but, looking back, he believes he did his home city proud.

"I’m told that I’m the only person from Sheffield to come close to winning a senior ABA title." Said Ross. "Herol Graham was from Nottingham when he fought in the amateurs. All the others from Sheffield that have done well have been juniors not seniors."

Ross made his first appearance in the professional game against Robert Bunford on the undercard of Carl Johanneson’s British super-featherweight title tussle with Femi Fehintola and he had no intention of putting in overtime.

"It was the biggest buzz ever. I sold over 300 tickets for my debut and I knocked him out in 60 seconds, which was a bonus."

The Bunford victory was followed up by another three impressive wins but then in October 20007 his winning streak came to an end when his thrilling war with Bradford’s Shaun Docherty was scored as a draw by referee Howard Foster.

"I boxed the wrong fight." Ross admits. "I went into it thinking I could knock everyone out and tried to bang him, but it didn’t work. He put me down in second round, not heavily, I just took a knee for a second and got straight up and said to myself ‘Right, I’ve gotta get boxing clever here’ and I believe I took the rest of the fight but unfortunately I only got a draw. I think I did enough to win."

In his last outing, at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield this February, disaster struck. Burkinshaw was having the best of a give and take battle with Huddersfield based Syrian Adbul Mougharbel when he suddenly turned defensive with his right arm draping by his side. He’d dislocated his shoulder and referee Michael Alexander had no choice but to call the bout off.

"I was comfortably winning the second round when my shoulder popped out. I didn’t just quit, I tried to carry on boxing with just my left hand."

So how did the young fighter take the disappointment of having a loss applied to his record in such a manner?

"I was absolutely gutted at first, but now I’ve spoken to everyone it’s not so bad."

He added: "Everyone in Sheffield knows that I didn’t get beat and when people do say ‘oh you’ve got a loss’ there’s usually someone on the street who’ll jump to me defence and tell them what actually happened."

The injury didn’t just cost him his unbeaten status and force him to take a lengthy hiatus from the ring to recover, it also meant a potential shot a title went out of the window.

"I was supposed to box Jamie McDonnell in an eliminator for the British title at super flyweight [McDonnell fought Lee Haskins instead this past Friday]. Although I box at bantamweight but I can do super-flyweight easily enough and I hope to get that chance again."

Ross had successful surgery on his troublesome shoulder a week ago and the lay off has done nothing to dampen his enthusiasm. He still believes he can achieve the goals he set himself for 2008.

"I’ve got an intense physio programme for three months and I reckon it will be about six months until I fight again, but I said that I would be British champion this year and that’s still my aim.

"At my weight things happen quite quickly so if I can fight an eliminator in September or October, then hopefully I can win the title by the end of the year."

His ambitions don’t stop there.

"I want to win the British title outright, maybe go for a European or Commonwealth title and then onto the world scene."

April 4,2008

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