Cole Johnson is relishing “stepping it up in Stoke” to prove himself as a long-haul fighter through the benefit of more ring time.
Johnson will engage in six-round action for the first time as a professional, the transition coming in his sixth contest.
He features on BCB Promotions’ first offering in the city for 2020, which will take place at the King’s Hall on Friday March 13.
Simas Volosinas, Reynaldo Cajina, Dean Evans, Ibrar Riyaz and Dean Jones have been vanquished on points by Johnson, the winner of all 20 rounds along the way.
Jones appears to have been his last stand over four rounds, who kept the contest at close quarters to see the final bell.
Johnson, originally from Newcastle-on-Lyme but now living in Stoke, is building upon his storied exploits as an amateur.
The Orme Boxing Club graduate became a national champion in 2017, claiming England Senior Development honours at 59kg.
The 25-year-old racked up 27 bouts in the amateur code, recording 24 victories, despite not joining Orme until 2016. He remains coached by Steve Woodvine.
Johnson has set his sights on further accolades in the pro ranks, which could even come a weight down at super feather.
Jack O’Keefe is set to defend the Midlands lightweight crown against Kaash Buttery on March 28, ironically also at King’s Hall.
The area strap at super feather has been vacated by Josh Baillie, but a match between Liam Beresford and Connor Lee Jones for the belt has been shelved.
Johnson said: “I’ve been training for 10 weeks, we’ve upped the ante for this camp and I’m looking forward to my first six-rounder.
“To be stepping it up in Stoke is exciting for me, because I get even more great support at home. I reckon this show will be a sell out.
“I think six will suit me better. I’ll have more time to settle, so I can take my time to think and then place my punches. I hope it will be more of a complete performance.
“It’s all a bit of a rush over four, you’re trying to get through it and win every round, but I’ve served my apprenticeship with that now.
“Don’t get wrong, I’d be pleased to go six rounds and win all of them again, but I’ll also be looking for the stoppage, if I’ve got my opponent hurt.
“I’m quite happy with what I’ve done so far, I’ve won every round of each fight and the only thing else I could have really asked for is some TKOs.
“I knew the last one would be tough, but I thought I breezed it and showed a lot of skills. I hurt him in the first round.
“I could have kept my distance a bit more, but he closed the gap by stepping around the punches so he wouldn’t get caught at range.
“I couldn’t get the full extension in my arms to really let my shots go, but he still told me I was the strongest that he’d been in there with.
“I’m hoping that soon, after a couple of six-rounders, I can go up to eight and then onto 10, so I’ll be knocking on the door for a title.
“I could go for the Midlands at lightweight, or super feather. I only boxed 1kg off super feather in the amateurs. I’m sure I can do it, at a day before weigh in.”
Home favourite Nathan Heaney tops the King’s Hall bill, ahead of further attempts to get a crack at national level.
‘The Hitman,’ who is the reigning Midlands middleweight champion, has raced to nine victories from nine outings, with three TKOs along the way.
That included outpointing Tom Stokes for the vacant area crown in a 10-rounder last year, which formed part of 33 rounds boxed in total during 2019.
Serge Ambomo and Daniel Urbanski, the former a 2012 Olympian and the latter a one-time foe of Gennady Golovkin, were also seen off over the distance.
His last outing and stoppage came against Nelson Altamirano, who folded in the fifth of six scheduled rounds. He’d previously halted Martin Kabrhel and Sean Gorman.
Heaney, now aged 30, debuted in late 2017 with a points whitewash over Darryl Sharp, after a stellar amateur career with South Staffs Boxing Club, who he represented in 90 fights.
Two more paid pugilists from Stoke feature on the under-card, with Kieron McLaren and Atal Khan set to occupy the home corner.
McLaren is the most experienced, having racked up 12 victories from 14 pro affairs, before taking on Lee Appleyard, who he pushed to a 95-95 draw after 10 rounds.
His one and only defeat then came to Maxi Hughes, in what was an eliminator for English lightweight honours, by fourth round stoppage.
Southpaw Khan is a super lightweight who has his hand raised twice so far, as a pro, remaining unbeaten with no rounds lost going toe-to-toe with Riyaz and Matt ‘MJ’ Hall.
He got his amateur grounding with the Impact Boxing and later Orme gyms, racking up 28 victories from 42 unpaid contests.
Khan is another product of the Orme fight factory as is Luke Caci, who will reach double figures when he steps through the ropes for a 10th time in the pro code.
Caci, a light heavyweight from nearby Newcastle, is still undefeated with nine wins and one TKO, halting Bryn Wain in the fifth of six rounds.
Making the trip from across the Midlands are Connor Parker and Leon Gower, who are from Woodville in Derbyshire and Burton-on-Trent respectively.
Parker is looking to bounce back from a first pro defeat, with Sam Maxwell taking his ‘0’ through a seventh round stoppage for the WBO European super lightweight bauble.
He can redress the balance with a 13th pro success, the most notable of which saw him become Midlands champion at the expense of Kevin Hooper.
The left-hander upset the odds to force the retirement of the experienced Hooper, a former Midlands and English titleist, at the end of the fifth round during their 2018 meeting.
Gower came up short in his attempt at area glory that year with his nemesis, Brad Foster, going on to win British and Commonwealth super bantamweight belts.
He now returns, after missing all of 2019, with a desire to quickly build upon his six wins, with three TKOs already in the bag.
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