West Bromwich Light Heavyweight, Josh Stokes, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his younger brother, Tom, when he steps in the ring for the first time as a professional this evening.
There are plenty of brotherly boxing duo’s that serve as inspiration to the Black Country pair. The Klitschko, Smith and Dirrell stories are paved with sibling rivalry and genuine competition. The Stokes’ are no different.
“My Dad took me and Tom down the gym when we were 8 or 9, and we’ve boxed ever since,” explains Josh.“We’ve always been really competitive.
“Because there’s only a year between us we’re really close as brothers and done everything together growing up.
“We’ve trained together, we go running together and I’ve sparred him a few times as well. I think it’s probably boiled over once or twice but nothing serious!
“I just try to beat him whenever I’m against him but it is good competition.
“I’ve been at all of his fights and we try and support each other in whatever we do.”
Tom, 22, opted to turn professional as a teenager and is undefeated in his 8 bouts to date. Meanwhile Josh, 23, enjoyed a respectable amateur career, winning the Junior Nationals as a 16 year old and will make his professional debut against Mitch Mitchell at the Banks’s Stadium tonight.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he added. “I had a lot of amateur fights but this is completely different.
“It’s something I’ve been looking at for a while now and I think I just got sick of amateur boxing in the end.
“The timing was right and now it’s all about going as far as I can as a professional.
“If I can get the first few fights out the way, target Midlands Title, then look at British and see where I can go.
“It’s all about getting the experience in at this stage and to keep learning.
“I’ll need to adapt to the professional scoring system but it doesn’t matter who I’m in there with it’s more about me at the moment.
“I was training for a fight in November, so I’ve just kept ticking over for the past few weeks.
“I don’t tend to struggle making weight and I’ve been working on a few things in the gym already.”
Josh insists he will bring a different style to the ring than his aggressive younger brother who overpowered Cristian Hoskin Gomez back in December.
“I’m a bit more of a boxer than Tom,” Josh highlighted.“He likes to come forward and be the aggressor in every fight.
“I still come forward similar to him but I try and box when I can. My technical skills are probably my best asset so I have to try to use them.
“I know I need to stop loading up on the shots because it’s become a habit of mine.
“I’ve been trying to tighten up my defence because I’m tall so I sometimes get caught with silly shots over the top.”
“Tom will be there on the night and he could have a big fight coming up in a few months so I’ll be there for him then.”
Boxing brotherly love well and truly alive.
‘Battleground’, Black Country Boxing’s four-fight event sees Stokes feature alongside Halesowen’s explosive super middleweight Lennox Clarke, Swadlincote super-lightweight, Connor Parker and Lichfield Flyweight Brad Foster at Walsall Football Club’s Banks’s Stadium.
Standard tickets, priced at £35, are available on the door from 7.00pm.
Those in attendance are also welcome to the after show party held at show sponsors, Grovesnor Casino Walsall, on Bentley Mill Way, Walsall, WS2 0LE (just off junction 10 of the M6)
Tonight’s Official Aftershow Party takes place at show sponsors Grosvenor Casino Walsall, Bentley Mill Way, Walsall WS2 0LE (just off junction 10 of the M6). Grosvenor Casino Walsall have linked up with local taxi firm, Yellow Taxi’s, to supply a number of free taxi’s to take guests from the Banks’s Stadium to the casino post-fight.
Find out more about Grosvenor Casino Walsall here: http://www.grosvenorcasinos.com/local-casinos/walsall/