Ultimate Boxxer III – Groombridge, Osaze, Hawes & Hurn Q & A

Uttoxeter hellraiser Josh Groombridge concedes he lacks the nous to outfox the field when eight of the nation’s brightest middleweight hopefuls trade leather at Ultimate Boxxer III, at Indigo at The O2 on Friday 10th May, so it’s his intention to simply outlast and outblast them!

UB III, sponsored by MansionBet, is exclusively live on BT Sports, BT Sports’ You Tube channel – available to anyone to watch for free – and the dedicated boxing channel BoxNation.

‘I know some of the others in UB are better technically than me so I have to be fitter than they are,’ acknowledges the Staffordshire terrier who has already clattered four hapless victims inside three rounds whilst compiling a 7-1 pro card.

‘I train four hours every day. I’m up at 4.30 to run three or four miles, five times a week, before starting work as a laser operative in Derby at six. I graft a minimum 55 hours per week, then bomb over to the Impact Gym in Stoke for boxing training.’

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The power punching 26 year old acquired his Popeye strength by pumping iron throughout his teenage years.

‘I don’t lift any more,’ says Josh.

‘I did the weight training at the right time, in my teens. I’ve sparred plenty of decent lads like Sam Eggington and Marcus Morrison and they all comment on how strong I am.

‘My dad’s mate got me into the boxing. When he took me on punch pads at the gym, he couldn’t believe how hard I punched.

‘I never boxed amateur – hence my technical ability is not the best- but had about 30 white collar (contests), winning about 25. My aim ain’t the best but, when the radar is right, they tend to tumble. My coach Scott Lawton (former English lightweight champion) and I couldn’t be any more bipolar!

Joltin’ Josh hails from Uttoxeter, a north midlands market town more synonymous with horse racing than prizefighting.

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‘It’s a little place where everybody knows everybody,’ explains Groombridge who was born in the nearby beer town of Burton.

‘Those who don’t particularly like boxing, like me and enjoy the way I fight. Every time it’s like a gungho western! I’ve already shifted over a hundred tickets for UB and I’m trying to get my hands on more.

‘No doubt some competitors will dismiss me as a country simpleton. There might not be much boxing going on but it’s like the wild west here. Loads of cowboys and Indians. A tough man’s town. They’re always scrapping at the races.’

Though five rivals land at Indigo with unbeaten slates, outsider Groombridge encountered the sour taste of defeat in April 2018, stopped in the seventh of a scheduled eight rounder by Cameroun hardcase Emmanuel Moussinga.

He explains: ‘After tagging Emmanuel with a few quite early, I tried to take him out and completely gassed. I simply couldn’t give any more. My own fault, a learning curve. I hope other entrants read something into it but there’s absolutely no chance I’ll get stopped over three rounds.’

UB III represents his first venture outside his home county as a pro and he is frothing with excitement.

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‘The O2 is the Mecca of British boxing at the minute. If you make it big, it’s where you want to box. I intend proving I deserve to be there,’ states Groombridge.

‘I don’t waste energy on being negative about opponents. I’m not in boxing to go unbeaten, I’m in the sport to compete with the top lads. I’m fully aware some of the others have fantastic ability but, over three rounds, I can dig in with anybody.

‘These fights are gonna be very fast, very frenetic sprints and the ‘messiness’ will suit me. I might not have the most variety but I’m strong at middleweight and I’ll bring a good chin and hard hands. I’ve already stopped several tough, tough journeyman.

‘As well as my big punch, I bring heart and belief. I’ll take my chance and put it on ‘em, force ‘em to answer questions they’ve not answered before.

‘If I might take the missus for an ice cream but I’m not thinking of the money, just the opportunities.

‘I intend to be the very, very best I can be and hopefully, that’ll be enough. I’ve a puncher’s chance with any of them.’

Derrick Osaze: “With God, Nothing I Face Can Break Me!”

South London scrapper Derrick Osaze launches himself into next month’s spectacular Ultimate Boxxer III: The Middleweights on Friday 10th May at the Indigo at The O2, bolstered by the strongest support network in the sport, The Lord Almighty, no less!

UB III is exclusively live on BT Sports, BT Sports’ You Tube channel – available to anyone to watch for free – and the dedicated boxing channel BoxNation.

After surviving an austere early life on the maligned streets of Southwark, determined ‘Del’ now earns his crust as a youth pastor at God’s Vineyard Ministries in Nottingham whilst simultaneously forging a career as a prizefighter.

‘Growing up, I had some anger issues; fighting in school, a few red cards playing sports. I wouldn’t say I was especially violent but I certainly had a short fuse,’ confides the 25 year old ‘Punching Preacher, who has won six straight since first punching for pay 18 months back.

‘So I started attending a boxing gym in Charlton, in an attempt to keep out of trouble. Gradually, my hobby became my passion, then my lifestyle. Boxing changed my life, helped me deal with my aggression, instilled self-discipline.’

‘I grew up a Catholic and weekends were always spent in Church. Once I got to uni, living on my own, I wavered a bit before rededicated my life to The Lord in my final year. Today, as a pastor I give sermons and lead prayers at a Pentecostal Church, and I mentor young people.

‘My faith in God keeps me grounded and reassures me that nothing I face can break me. There’s a big misconception that just because you go to church, life is plain sailing. It’s not. Christians too face challenges and tests but The Lord guides us through. Something good comes out of each challenge which makes us stronger.

‘My faith certainly helps with the mental side of the sport. Above all, it gives me peace and serenity and a happy boxer is a dangerous boxer.

‘Before fights, I pray that neither my opponent or myself sustain any life-threatening injuries but there’s no conflict. Boxing’s like a martial art, hit and don’t get hit. It’s competition. God understands I’m just doing my job.’

The Jimmy Gill managed minister, who owns a BA (Hons) degree in Business Management and a Masters in Sport Psychology, has unleashed plenty of fire and brimstone inside the ring since first dipping between the ropes at the Phoenix ABC (alma mater to Carl Froch), aged 19.

‘Officially I only won 13 of my 19 bouts but, in reality, I only lost two. Let’s just say, there were a few mysterious decisions,’ claims Osaze who is now coached by ex-pros Barrington Brown and Mark Howell at the Dreams Come True (DCT) facility in Nottingham’s Hyson Green district.

‘But the amateurs was great experience. I attended a few England camps without winning a vest and was approached by Nigeria to try out for the 2016 Rio Olympic qualifiers but couldn’t make it.’

With God in his corner, dazzling Derrick is confident of scaling the sport’s highest peaks.

He states: ‘It’s my ambition to go all the way, to be world champion. I don’t want money, I want to achieve. In addition to Ultimate Boxxer, I’d like a title this year, maybe Area or English, then British, European…..

‘On May 10th, fans are going to witness the very best version of me, in the best possible physical condition.

‘The three round UB format will suit me because I always start fast. I’ve a counter aggressive style. I’m adaptable, can go front foot or back. I pose different challenges to every opponent, do whatever is necessary to win. Expect the unexpected!’

Osaze is one of five runners and riders who’ll be risking their unbeaten tag at the sizzling UB shootout – the other three entrants have each lost just once – but his faith is such that he is fearless of the competition.

‘I love the concept of all the best young prospects in a category coming together because it forces match-ups that wouldn’t be made outside such a tournament,’ concludes the middleweight minister.

‘I’m not into all the razzamatazz of unbeaten records. So many are padded. If you want to get somewhere in the rankings, you have to take risks, test yourself. This is ‘nothing to lose, everything to gain’. It’s a perfect launch pad that can provide great exposure.

‘They’ve all got two eyes, two fists, two legs so they’re all an equal threat but it’s my time to shine and God is on my side!’

Kaan Hawes: “Some Say I’m Putting My Unbeaten Record At Risk. I View It As A Great Opportunity.”

All round sporting talent Kaan Hawes predicts that his superior athleticism will be the key to him winning Ultimate Boxxer III when eight highly rated middleweight gladiators convene at The Indigo at The O2 on Friday 10th May, exclusively live on BT Sport.

In cricketing whites, the hard-hitting opening batsman/wicketkeeper captained the first XI at Witham Cricket Club during the summer, whilst during winter months, he patrolled the football pitch as a combative central midfielder for Witham Town FC.

‘Though I wasn’t really a lairy kid, I had a few fights on the football pitch cos I was ultra-competitive, ‘win at all costs,’’ says 32 year old Kaan who is undefeated in six pro starts since debuting in July 2017.

‘Olly Murs was a Sunday League team mate and we became close friends because we were both huge Man United fans who’d regularly travel up to Old Trafford in my missus banged out Fiesta. Olly could never fight but he weren’t a bad footballer and he’s really into his boxing and UFC. He’s a regular at all my fights.’

Action man Hawes, a plumber by trade, concedes his induction into the Noble Art came about by accident.

He explains: ‘As a kid, I’d always loved watching boxers like Naseem Hamed and Ricky Hatton on the tele. Then, when I was 25, I had a bad knee injury playing football. Initially, I went to the boxing gym for a bit of extra fitness and just never stopped going. I’d always enjoyed my fitness and the gym, anyway.’

The innate speed, strength and agility that had served him well in other sports brought immediate success inside the prizering.

‘I had six or seven unlicensed and white-collar fights and won them all bar one which didn’t have a decision,’ recalls the Essex boy who was born in Chelmsford but now lives in Witham with his wife and step son.

‘Then I had 16 or 17 amateur bouts out of the Hoddesdon club that produced Billy Joe Saunders. I won about a dozen, boxed in the National Novices, won the BoxCup in Denmark and lost in the final of the Haringey Cup.’

This natural athlete has made rapid progress since shedding his singlet and linking with coach Billy ‘The Bomb’ Long – a former undefeated pro super-middle – at the Box2Burn facility two years ago.

‘I was already 31 but, from the off, Billy and me decided to just take it one step at a time. Our motto is: ‘We’re in it for a good time, not a long time,’ claims Kaan who is yet to meet with defeat in six starts, all at the close to home Brentwood Centre.

‘First goal was to secure a pro licence, now it’s any pro title. I’m certainly not in this for the money. I really love the sport and aim to get everything I can, for as long as I can do this. I want to make my family and fans proud.’

He knows he will be confronted by a stiff field for the winner’s large share of the £50,000 jackpot at The Indigo but refuses to be deterred.

‘All the other boys are very good. They’ve only got a handful of losses between them so they’ll all arrive confident,’ acknowledges the Carl Greaves managed hopeful.

‘We all need a bit of luck on the night to avoid cuts and injuries but I’d not have entered if I didn’t think I could win it, providing I perform at my best.

‘Others question why I’ve put my unbeaten record at risk but I prefer to view it as a great opportunity that, if I’m successful, can increase my profile and lead to TV fights; all the stuff you train so hard for.

And turbo-charged Hawes believes that the high-energy three round format is tailor made for his skill-set.

He concludes: ‘There’s some very good technicians in the tournament and I doubt I’m going to be able to outbox them. But though some of the lads have been involved in far longer fights, I think that might prove detrimental to them. I’m more used to short, fast-paced explosive fights.

‘I’m a come forward pressure fighter who guarantees non-stop action. I’ll bring it all. I’ll be taking a lot of fans because my fights are always exciting. I’ve never been in a dull fight.’

Joe Hurn: “I Always Look To Chin ‘Em, First Round!”

Ultimate Boxxer III promises to deliver an eclectic mix of fighting styles when eight of England’s hottest middleweight prospects collide at The Indigo at The O2 on Friday 10th May, but there’s little argument with regard to who is the ‘banger’ of the bunch.

UB III, sponsored by MansionBet, is exclusively live on BT Sports, BT Sports’ You Tube channel – available to anyone to watch for free – and the dedicated boxing channel BoxNation.

‘Clacton Rock’ Joe Hurn has a proven track record for inflicting concussion. Eighteen of his 22 K1 contests ended with his opponent horizonal and counting birdies, while 10 of his 11 victims on the ‘unlicensed’ circuit also failed to finish.

And Kayo Joe has continued his combustible ways since he was granted a professional boxer’s licence in February 2015, flattening half a dozen foes en route to compiling an imposing 10-0-1 CV.

‘I’m not the purest but I love to have a row and I know I can punch. I’m a no-nonsense fighter who always looks to chin ‘em first round! Either you fall or I fall. Leaving the arena, fans always talk about the knockout on the bill,’ claims the Leytonstone-born wrecking machine.

Hammer-handed Hurn’s combative urges were initially satisfied through kick-boxing but his conversion to conventional pugilism was forced through quasi-comical circumstances.

‘In 2010, I got into a bit of trouble and was banged up for three years. I kept really fit inside but, when I was released, I was put on tag so couldn’t kick!’ disclosed the 33 year old ground worker who is steered by Norwich management team Graham Everett and Jon Thaxton.

‘However, my old gym had started a boxing program and I was introduced to my trainer Russell Smith. Ironically, I’d always been more of a puncher than a kicker.

‘I started out on the unlicensed circuit but, because of my 10 pm curfew, they always had to put me on first. I had 11 fights, all wins. I also sparred (Olympic bronze medallist) Anthony Ogogo over Norwich way.’

Since straightening out his life, reformed Hurn juggles his ring ambitions around full-time employment and parenthood.

‘Most think I’m mad,’ he states.

‘I get up at 3.45 am to drive to the Champions Gym in Colchester to train before doing a day’s graft on the roads: hand digging, slabbing, lots of heavy lifting. That frees me up to spend time with my daughter (two year old Dulcie) in the evenings.

‘I work for my money and box purely for self-achievement. When I win this, I might treat myself to a few beers and a Chinese but the rest of the dough can go into Dulcie’s bank account. I want her to have a better start to life than I had.’

Already, smokin’ Joe has eclipsed the goals he set himself upon entering the profession and he knows that success at UB3 could catapult him into title contention.

‘Starting out, my sole goal was to see my name on boxrec!’ states Hurn.

‘Now I’d love to fight for the Southern Area down at light-middle or even welter. I’ve been holding my weight at 11.8 for two months now. This Ultimate Boxxer is a great stage to expand my fan base and showcase my worth.

‘I’m not concerned about the others and I never study opponents on You Tube. I focus solely on being the best that I can be. I’m already 33 so I have to take risks. I can’t avoid anyone. I’d love to draw one of the other Essex lads. Kaan (Hawes, from Witham) does a similar job to me so there’s a lot of banter flying about on the local building sites.’

And ‘The Clacton Rock’ predicts that his high-octane, explosive ring manner is perfectly tailored for him to triumph over the UB’s unique and intense three round format.

‘So far, most of my fights have been high intensity four rounders but six haven’t even lasted that long. I always start fast so this is made for me,’ he finishes.

‘The others will be very wary because I carry ‘The Equaliser’. I punch very hard. If I hit you clean, it’ll take a very good man to get back up!’

Ultimate Boxxer III features Tey Lynn-Jones, Derrick Osaze, Kieron Conway, Grant Dennis, Sean Phillips, Josh Groombridge, Kaan Hawes and Joe Hurn as they battle it out to become Ultimate Boxxer on Friday 10th May at The Indigo at The O2, exclusively live on BT Sport.

An action packed undercard will see the return of highly-rated and undefeated Light-Heavyweight talent and UB II winner Shakan Pitters and unbeaten super-middleweight prospect Idris Virgo who is out to prove to critics he is more than just a reality star.

Tickets are available from ticketmaster.co.uk AXS.com and ultimateboxxer.com priced at:

£30 Balcony Standing (General Admission)
£35 Floor Standing (General Admission)
£55 Upper Balcony Seats
£70 Outer Ringside
£100 Inner Ringside
£200 Kings Row (Padded Balcony seats, separate bar, VIP entrance)

For all VIP & Corporate Packages please contact www.sportandmusic.co.uk