“I believe I can fight for a British title” – that’s how confident Nelson-based boxer Ashley Dovestone is just over a week away from pulling on the gloves for the first time as a professional.
The 26-year old labourer turned pugilist had never even dreamed of becoming an athlete previously and his way into the sport was unorthodox to say the least.
Although Dovestone had competed as a junior, he had never considered restarting the sport as an adult. Not until he and his friends discovered punching machines anyway.
“It all started from a punching machine. I always got the highest score and people always said I had a good dig on me”, he joked.
This then prompted an invite from a friend to a white collar boxing event where amateur boxers can fight for charity.
Although he initially turned down the offer, Dovestone reconsidered and decided to give the event a go.
From that point he hasn’t looked back. Nine of his first 10 amateur bouts ended in success and it appears the Birmingham-born fighter is prepared to give it all to reach his lofty goals.
“I’ve sacrificed my whole life. I’ve sacrificed my family, time with my fiancé and two daughters because I train three times a day.
“To be honest I used to smoke about 15 cigarettes a day and drink occasionally too but now I’ve stopped smoking and only drink about once every six months”, he said.
All these changes have been made to facilitate a brutal training regime that includes two daily runs and a two to three hour session in Darwen.
In the best physical shape of his life, the transformation Dovestone has made is extraordinary. However, he still enjoyed Christmas like the rest of us!
“I put on about a stone at Christmas like everyone does! But now just a week before the fight I’m only two pounds off the weight”, he quipped.
This day can’t come soon enough for the rookie as his inaugural bout was supposed to be held in early December before a last minute cancellation delayed proceedings.
Two months down the line, though, and the wait is almost over with Dovestone using the extra training time as added motivation.
“I was booked to fight in December but that got cancelled three days before. I have to look at it positively because before I was probably only at 90% whereas now I’m 100% ready”, he added.
Entering the 140lb capped super lightweight division aged 26 is an enormous challenge for the father-of- two.
Saturday sees current British Lightweight champion Lewis Ritson look to defend his title against Joe Murray in Manchester, and that’s a position that Dovestone would like to find himself in one day.
“I believe I can get to fight for a British title. I’ve sparred with a British champion and they said I was better than expected so I’m confident”, he said.
The confidence and character of such an inexperienced fighter is refreshing to see and regardless of the result come March 3rd, Dovestone can be proud of his incredible rise to the top.