Ashton-under-Lyne’s Jon Kays believes it will be a case of ‘third time lucky’ when he challenges Kevin Hooper for the vacant English super-featherweight title at the Oldham Sports Centre on October 5. After losing to Gary Sykes for the same title in April, as well as a 2011 Commonwealth defeat to Liam Walsh – Jon says he has learned from those reverses and will be an improved fighter against Hooper.
“I’ve learnt massively from it,” analysed Kays of the Sykes loss. “It was only my second big fight after the Walsh contest, and I went the championship distance and got all that experience under my belt against a former British champion. I got beat by the better man on the night but it was a close fight and I was with him up until the fifth round. He hurt me in the eighth but I’m a tough bugger and came back in the ninth and tenth. I underestimated him a bit because I didn’t think he’d be as strong as he was. He won fair and square though at the end of the day but I learned a hell of a lot from it. I feel I’m a much better fighter after those defeats, but I’ll have to prove that on the 5th.”
Heading into the fight, ‘2 Smokes’ is fully aware this is a pivotal moment in his career and that he cannot afford to spurn another title chance. The Lancashire fighter knows too that, if he is to claim his first title, he will have to be on top form against Hooper. The Grimsby man has lost just one fight in 14, also an English title points defeat to Sykes, and will travel to Oldham confident he can win the belt at his second attempt. Kays though, who has won 16 from 20 with one draw, is looking forward to headlining close to home and believes he can, eventually, go on to bigger things.
“It would mean everything to win it,” stated Jon. “I’ve dreamt about winning a title, English or British, since I was 10 so to be topping the bill in Oldham, just five minutes from where I live, is going to be a massive event for me. It’s a prestigious belt and it’d be brilliant but I’m looking at bigger things than an English. I think I belong at British title level, that’s what I’m looking at, and I need to win this title to prove that I belong and then go on.
“I’m not looking past Kevin though because I’ve been told by my trainer he’s a decent kid. He’s going to be a tough test. He’s got a decent record, but I don’t think he’s boxed anyone apart from Gary Sykes. Although I haven’t either apart from Liam Walsh and Sykes! So we might both be in the same boat experience-wise and I’m preparing for a tough fight.
“This is definitely a must-win fight for me. I’m 30 and this is my third championship title attempt and it’s now or never isn’t it? I can’t keep having chances and not taking them. If I want to move on then I need to win. I’m very confident. I always train hard and I always turn up in 100 per cent shape. I’ll leave it all in the ring and I’ll be coming out with the championship of England – definitely.”
“Jon has just come up a little short in his two previous title attempts,” explained promoter Steve Wood, “but he’s been in with two good champions. He’s a consummate pro though and a great trainer and he’ll give it everything in this fight. I think it’ll be a cracking contest and Hooper won’t be easy but I think Jon will win the belt. The undercard will also be entertaining with fighters like Terry Flannigan and Isaac Lowe on and can be watched live and free on VIPBOXING.TV.”
VIP Promotions presents Jon Kays versus Kevin Hooper for the vacant English super-featherweight title at the Oldham Sports Centre on October 5. The undercard will feature boxers from across the Northwest including Merseyside’s Gary Ormrod; Middleton’s Alex Rutter and Curtis Gargano; Manchester’s Sam Omidi and Terry Flannigan, Oldham’s Ronnie Heffron, Ashley Mayall and Marvin Greaves; Denton’s Callum Cooke, and Morecambe’s Isaac Lowe. Also appearing will be Wales’ former European middleweight champion Kerry Hope.
Tickets, priced at £30 (General) and £50 (Ringside), are available from all boxers or at www.vipbe.co.uk
The show will also be streamed live and free at www.vipboxing.tv