Phoenix Camp coach Rob Rimmer excited by promising Earby ace Josh Holmes’ vast potential

Josh Holmes (left) in sparring at the Phoenix Camp
Josh Holmes (left) in sparring at the Phoenix Camp

Phoenix Camp coach Robert Rimmer says he couldn’t ask any more of Earby super lightweight fighter Joshua Holmes.

The 23-year-old is already making moves in the professional ranks and talks suggesting that Taka Bembere will be his next opponent appear to be bang on the money.

The Zimbabwean super-featherweight, who now resides in Oldham, doesn’t have the most colourful record from his 10 bouts as a professional.

Bembere has gone the distance with his last three opponents - Nathaniel Collins, Monty Ogilvie and Jack Hillier - who were all unbeaten.

The 26-year-old will also face Jackson Jon England at York Hall in Bethnall Green beforehand.

It’s a suitable step up for Holmes, who has out-classed both Naheem Chaudhry and Dylan Draper since turning over.

He has been holding his own against some 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.

Rimmer said: “He’s making improvements so fast, so rapidly. He’s only been with us since January, but the improvements have been immense. He’s had the best sparring against some very talented kids, who have come from wicked amateur backgrounds.

“There have even been some pros who are already up there. I’m throwing him in with these kids to try and gauge where he’s at, and you’d be shocked.

“Every time I’ve got other coaches saying to me, ‘wow, you’ve got a good one there’. There have been some Olympians, but he’s just adapting all the time.”

Rimmer, who also has Jack Massey, Charlie Schofield, Ryan Doyle and Mark Heffron in his stable, based inside Denton’s Heaton Mills, added: “Josh doesn’t know how good he is, everything he does is very natural. His work ethic, attitude, it’s bang on. From my point of view I couldn’t ask any more of him.

“He’s dedicated, professional and his performances have shown that. It’s effortless, he already looks like a seasoned pro.

“Nothing fazes him, he goes through the gears when he wants to, he gauges the gas as well. He’s quality, it’s exciting, ‘where can this kid go?’ He ticks all the boxes.”

Holmes has a style that’s flashy, but without arrogance. It’s clever, rhythmic, artistic and exciting. There aren’t many fighters of that ilk so early in their development.

It can be a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ with Holmes, who gets in and out of range effortlessly, switching between stances and countering at a frightening pace.

The former Crosshills ABC and Eastburn ABC pugilist, due back out at Colne Muni on August 31st, was crowned England Senior Development champion following victory over London titlist Jerome Campbell as an amateur.

He’s mastered his craft alongside unbeaten Frenchman Jaber Zayani, the new owner of a WBO Oriental strap, and IBF European light-heavyweight champion Alem Begic.

After his one-sided bout against Draper last month, Rimmer said: “The performance itself says it all. You can only deal with what’s in front of you.

“We had an idea that his opponent was going to go on the back foot and tuck up, but I believe Josh is at his best when fighters throw shots.

“He doesn’t bat an eyelid, he’s just focussed on the job and I was really impressed with his performance.”