James Beech Jr is expecting his toughest test to date when he attempts to become a two-weight area champion next month.
Beech has been matched with Luke Jones for the vacant Midlands featherweight title in a 10-round clash, having previously reigned at super feather.
They headline BCB Promotions’ offering in the Stadium Suite at the Banks’s Stadium, Walsall Football Club, on Saturday December 7. The bill is titled ‘Battle at the Banks’s.’
The two former sparring partners vie for a belt last held by Leigh Wood, who has since gone on to win Commonwealth honours.
Wood never defended the strap he claimed in 2016 by beating Lee Glover, who had been paired with Jones at one point before Beech came into the reckoning.
Another incentive is their meeting doubling up as an eliminator for the English title, which is expected to be relinquished by Reece Mould.
Beech, of nearby Bloxwich, has been there and done it at area level, halting Louis Fielding in the ninth for the second stoppage of his 11 wins from 11 outings. He later vacated.
The 22-year-old has vanquished Jake Pollard and Michael Mooney over-the-distance in keep-busy action since, with his title trail now resumed.
Jones, aged 25 and from Burntwood in Staffordshire, lies in wait having recorded six victories from his nine pro bouts, all on points.
He’s completed the duration on all but one occasion, though, with a technical draw against Alec Bazza ending after one round with both men badly cut by a clash of heads.
Jones’ losses have been to Dean Evans and Paul Holt, the latter another one-time Midlands boss at super feather who squeezed past him by a point.
Beech is, by no means, taking him lightly and has remained in camp since whitewashing Mooney the last time he stepped through the ropes.
He said: “I boxed reasonably well that night, I didn’t take a clean shot and I was sharp with my own work. I’ve built on that since.
“I never really stopped training after the summer, I reached a level of fitness and I didn’t want to lose that again, so I’ve learned my lessons there.
“I’m ready for this, it’s a big one for both of us and I’ll be as fit, if not fitter, than when I boxed for the Midlands title before.
“I’ve got that experience, too, and I could have gone past the ninth round then. I had more in the tank, so I know I can do the distance.
“I’m expecting this to be harder, it’s another step up for me and I’ve had good spars with Luke in the past. He’s a strong lad, but I pushed him back as well.
“No disrespect to Louis Fielding, but I think Luke is a better fighter. He’s given a decent account of himself, against some good opponents.
“He’s only done six-rounders, though, and I’ve done six, eight and reckon I’ll be fine going 10. I’ve had my own tests along the way.
“I’m hoping he’ll bring out the best of me and if I can get the win, I’ll push on from there. This title wasn’t in my mind, but I’m expecting the winner to be next in line for the English.
“By the time the belt is free, it’ll probably be next year anyway, but I’ve got to get past Luke first. I just want to keep progressing, by winning 50-50 fights.
“Becoming a two-weight champion at 22 certainly isn’t bad, but I’m always looking at bigger and better things, either at feather or super bantam.
“I could grow into becoming a featherweight, because there seems to be more opportunities for me there. I’ve been patient and we’ll see what happens.”
Hot prospect Liam Davies leads the way on the under-card, with another significant contest expected after an impressive impact last time out.
His bout with Jose Aguilar was scheduled for six, but was over in the fourth when Davies kept up his undefeated streak with a second TKO as a pro.
Davies had previously taken out Pablo Narvaez in two as part of his five wins from five outings, with all three of his other opponents visiting the floor but seeing the final bell.
Edward Bjorklund, Stefan Slavchev and Khvicha Gigolashvili climbed off the canvas and clung on against Davies, who has yet to drop even a round.
The 23-year-old super bantamweight, who hails from Donnington in Telford, comes from good stock after a stellar amateur career, where he racked up exactly 100 contests.
He recorded 78 wins and represented England at youth level, becoming a 2010 Schoolboys champion in the process.
The second generation fighter is the son of ex-pro Tristan Davies and represented his father’s Donnington Boxing Club in the unpaid ranks.
Troi Coleman, from Burntwood in Staffordshire, is also 5-0 as a super middleweight having reeled off a series of points victories since switching sports from kickboxing.
‘The Hawk,’ who still trains out of the Platinum gym in his hometown, has seen off Lewis van Poetsch, Darryl Sharp, Kevin McCauley, Scott Hillman and Owen Jobburn.
Cole Johnson, of Stoke-on-Trent, seeks his fifth paid success, after recording four points victories starting with his debut last year.
The lightweight hopeful hasn’t conceded a round so far as a pro and has a good grounding, having previously become a national titleist as an amateur.
Johnson claimed England Senior Development honours in 2017, representing Orme Boxing Club, and wants to build a path towards further accolades.
Southpaw Lauren Johnson, from nearby Willenhall, will lace on the gloves for the first time in nearly 18 months and is going up a weight to super welter.
‘The Black Widow’ returns after claiming the eight-round British Challenge strap in her previous outing, by making it a hat-trick of paid points results.
Dudley’s Ruben Campbell will be looking to have his hand raised for the third time, as a pro, after outpointing Ibrar Riyaz and Matt ‘MJ’ Hall so far.
Another second generation boxer, Campbell is planning to campaign as a super lightweight, where his dad Ray ‘Raza’ Campbell featured in the early 1990s.
The show will start at 6pm and end by 9pm, where screens will then be used at the venue to broadcast the world title fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua attempts to regain his WBA ‘super,’ WBO, IBF and IBO belts from Ruiz in Saudi Arabia, who are three hours ahead of UK time.
Tickets for the bill at Walsall FC are on sale now, which are priced at £35 standard or £65 VIP with a hot fork buffet.
They are available by calling the BCB Box Office on 07493 582 261 or contacting the boxers. It will be £40 for entry on the door.