Slick super-featherweight fighter Joshua Holmes is ticking all the boxes for Phoenix Camp coach Robert Rimmer.
The 23-year-old is only six months in to his degree at M34, having been introduced by promoter Kevin Maree, but he’s slipped in to the classroom at Unit 12, based inside Denton’s Heaton Mills, rather seamlessly.
The former Yorkshire amateur champion’s educational tools of choice differ from most. Holmes has swapped a pen for a pair of gloves and paper for pads, but the end result is just as poetic.
He’s earned top marks in all his exams to date - in and out of the ring - and has become a valued member of the stable, which includes Jack Massey, Charlie Schofield, Ryan Doyle and Mark Heffron.
“Kevin [Maree] sent him down here at the beginning of January and he’s fit in like he’s been here for years,” said Rimmer. “He’s a great addition to the stable, he’s a talented kid.
“Since he’s been here his work ethic and attitude has been everything you could ever ask for. He turns up on time and he does everything you ask of him. He’s fit in with the rest of the lads and he’s willing to learn.
“He’s progressed massively. From the first day he came here we had a little look at him on the bag and he had that elusive style.
“Sometimes you can take on fighters who have been at other gyms previously, adapted a certain style, and it makes it hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
“Josh has come from an amateur background, he’s got an elusive style, but I can mould him in to what I think is right and adapt his style in to what suits us. Defensively, going forward, there are things that we’ve got to work on, but he ticks all the boxes.”
Rimmer has had plenty of time to run the rule over Holmes and he’s more than happy with his new recruit.
The one-time Eastburn ABC representative, who won 24 of 29 contests before turning over, has been performing to his optimum level in training.
Having already impressed on debut, when out-pointing Naheem Chaudhry at King George’s Hall in March, Holmes has been flying on the pads, smashing his goals in conditioning sessions, and matching high class operators in sparring - including Unbeaten teenage lightweight Sean Fennell and Evaldas Petrauskas, the ‘Lithuanian Mike Tyson’ who joined Vasyl Lomachenko on the podium at London’s Olympic Games in 2012.
Heading in to his second bout as a professional, where he’ll headline Sunday’s show at Colne Muni against Nicaraguan Michael Isaac Carrero, Rimmer feels the world is now Holmes’s oyster.
“He’s got bags of talent and we’ve got loads to work on,” he said. “Every time he’s sparred I’ve thrown him in at the deep end, he’s never had it easy in sparring.
“He’s been in with Commonwealth champions, some really talented kids, top prospects, and you couldn’t tell the difference.
“You’d think he was on the same level as them. He’s showing some good signs and I’m really excited about going forward with him.
“I needed to look at him and see how he adapted to different styles; somebody who can put the pressure on him, someone who will stand off him.
“Everybody I have put him in with he’s found a solution for, off his own back. He always seems to find a solution. Every single time I’ve just tried to take it up a notch.”
Rimmer added: “I can’t ask anymore of him, he’s boxed out of his skin, he’s not had one bad spar. He oozes positivity, he excites me and I think he excites everybody else.
“He can do pretty much anything. He’ll go on the front foot, he can box on the back foot, he can frustrate the hell out of you, he doesn’t get hit a lot.
“He has an exciting style; he’s not your typical come forward, textbook boxer. He’s very flashy. We’ll take each step as it comes.
“He’s in a great division and we’ll see how the next 12 months go. We’ll get a good indication then, but the world is his oyster. He’s got the attitude, he’s got the style, he’s got everything.”
Josh would like to thank Hippo Motor Group, Sandy Lane Deli, Palmbeck Plumbing and Heating, Skipton Self Drive, JH Grooming, M.A. Shaw Building Contractors, Salterforth Nurseries and Garden Centre Ltd, Green’s Masonry Ltd, Earby Fitness Mill and The Punch Bowl in Earby for their continued sponsorship and support.