Purge's Hargreaves claims back-to-back national titles

Purge's Hargreaves claims back-to-back national titles
Photo: Andy Chubb

JOSH HARGREAVES became a national champion for the second year running last weekend. 

But although his coaches say he is ready for the professional game, he won’t be turning over just yet.

Purge Boxing’s Hargreaves beat the Army’s Jordan Phelps by split decision in Saturday’s Senior B Under-60kg final in the England Boxing National Development Championships in Banbury.

It was a third national final in a row for the Batley boxer, who was defeated in 2017 but bounced back to take the title last year.

He is now unbeaten in two years having won his last 11 fights, and he is attracting interest to turn professional.

However, coach Mohammed Amin Patel says that he is being patient with Hargreaves as he nears a switch to the pro ranks, which could come in the new year with promoters MTK.

“He’s got a season yet, then he’s going to turn over,” said Amin. “We’ve got some big plans for him.

“I’ve had the chat with MTK. We’re going to take him there soon for a training camp. Tom Stalker is a good friend of mine, he recruits fighters and he’s had a look at Josh.

“He just wants to know when he’s turning over and then he’s going to invite us out, he’ll spar a few professionals there and hopefully secure a contract with MTK.

“The next thing is we’ve got a few box cups, Portugal coming up in December, then the MTK Box Cup in Penrith, then there is Ireland, Haringey, then the big one is the ABA.

“Depending on how he does in the ABA we’ll reflect on the pro transition. If he wins a title open class then he boxes for Great Britain, and maybe he wants to do that and get a bit more international experience before turning over.”

Winning the title 12 months ago meant a lot to Hargreaves – he admitted afterwards that he would have quit the sport for good had he not won the title.

He says that he felt a lot more confident going into the championships this year

“It’s the second time I’ve won it,” he said. “This year I’ve been fitter, I was ready, I just felt better about myself. I’m a different person than last year. I felt a lot better in the ring, I felt a better fighter.

“(I’ve) lived the lifestyle and dedicated myself to win this title, and I did it. Every fight I’m getting better.”

His brother Ben has been helping with his training as well, and he described how disciplined Josh has been in pursuit of another title.

“He did everything correct last year but he’s done it even better this year,” he said. “His game plan, his diet’s been better, he’s getting up earlier, doing his runs earlier, he’s having his meals at the same time, he’s doing everything correctly.”

Amin added: “Josh Hargreaves is just one tough fighter. He gets punched and he’s still there, he’ll throw three more.

“Boxers are trying to overcome him by using strength but Josh overpowers them. And his style is old-school. He’s made for the professional game and the transition is going to be very smooth in my opinion, because he’s already like a seasoned pro.”

With regional and national champions being produced by Purge, Amin says that he has never been more positive about the Batley gym which he set up three years ago.

“We’ve got a cracking team now and we’ve got a cracking stable. I think this year I’ve had the strongest start to the season that I’ve ever had, in the past three years that I’ve been open. We’ve got some amazing young kids coming through as well.”

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