Roughly 5 weeks out from fight night (day) and the sense of readiness is tangible. From the promoters to the boxers, everyone is raring to go. For Steve Wraith, his September show entitled “Showdown at St James” is clearly an important next step in the boxing world. It’s no secret that he isn’t particularly pleased about the circumstances around losing his main event (The rematch between Tom Whitfield and Daniel Cope for the Northern Area title) but he is determined that the show must go on.
In St James’ Park, he arguably has the best venue in the region at his disposal and there are certainly a good crop of fighters set to feature on the card. Jeff Saunders and Neil Hepper, both trained by Jeff’s dad, also named Jeff, Sam Best, James Barnes and Billy Snaith were all in attendance at the top table. Along with a familiar face from the world of boxing, and now promoting,
World title challenger Pat Barrett is lending his considerable boxing experience to the venture and both parties believe this could be the beginning of a very fruitful partnership.
“Steve got in touch and we met up and we joined to come together. Cancelled my show and put it together. He thinks the same as me and wants to produce champions. I like what he does and what he’s about. He puts his heart and soul into it like we do in Manchester.”
The boxers involved shared much the same sentiments as they are in camp and looking forward to finally stepping into the ring. None more so than Darlington’s Neil Hepper. Neil was scheduled to box in May, yet due to injuries and pullouts Wraith’s maiden show in Darlington was cancelled days before taking place. Yet Hepper, who has shared the ring with Luke Campbell and Kevin Hooper in his career so far, remains in remarkably good spirits.
“These things happen in boxing [cancellations]. You have to be ready for these things. You’re that close to the edge in training injuries happen. I’ve been in the gym solidly and working in a gym I have the opportunity to train before and after work. This fight will be 10 stone 2 but after a few fights who knows. We will see how it goes.”
The star of the show (and arguably North East boxing at the moment) is Jeff Saunders who headlines in a scheduled 4 rounder.
“Someone is getting knocked clean out. That’s what is happening not what might happen!” he confidently stated.
He also elaborated on no longer being represented by MGM and what that meant for any future fights with other promoters (Jeff has recently signed a management contract with Steve Wraith):
“Management and promotion is totally different. I was managed by MGM and I thank them for all they did for me while I was with them. But I was still boxing on Steve Wraith shows and Matchroom shows as well so that is definitely a possibility going forward. My record speaks for itself and I will have a belt around my waist sooner or later.”
Ferryhill’s Billy Snaith also features on the card as looks to improve on his 2-0 record in the pro ranks.
“You have to keep busy and stay in the gym. I hurt my hand recently so was out of the gym for 9 weeks but I’m never out of the gym. I love being there learning new things and improving. I improved in my last fight and I’m looking to make a statement in this one”
Showdown at St James’ takes place on 25th September at St James’ Park concluding what promises to be a cracking weekend of boxing in the North East.