Sparring is the key to success for unbeaten super lightweight Josh Holmes and the 24-year-old has got plenty of it pencilled in to his diary ahead of his next outing.
The recently turned pro has already been thrown in with some of the hottest prospects in the sport since joining Robert Rimmer and the Phoenix Camp coach has still got plenty up his sleeve.
Sean Fennell and Evaldas Petrauskas were a couple of names mentioned prior to Holmes’s victory over Dylan Draper last month and now the likes of Qais Ashfaq and Dylan Evans are being drafted in.
Ashfaq, 26, signed with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport last year and went on to make his professional debut against Brett Fidoe at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester with Jamie Moore and Nigel Travis in his corner.
The Yorkshireman won Commonwealth silver in Glasgow in 2014 when competing at bantamweight, he won a bronze medal in Baku the following year in the European Games and added another silver at the European Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria.
Evans, meanwhile, fights out of Anthony Crolla’s stable and recorded victory over Michael Horabin on his return to the ring in May.
“It was a good six rounds against Qais and I really put it on him at the end,” said Holmes. “There was some real quality work.
“All this sparring is helping me massively because that’s where you learn everything. You can do all the pad work you want, but you won’t learn anything until you put it in to practice.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to try new things and makes fight night that bit easier. It makes everything feel a bit more natural, it makes you more relaxed and takes away some of the tension.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere near as much sparring as an amateur, which could make it quite daunting at times when you went to fight.
“I’m going up against all different styles of fighters, strong lads, some who are quick with their hands, elusive fighters. I’m prepared for anything.”
The former Eastburn ABC pugilist, a Yorkshire Area champion, has two contests scheduled before the year is out.
He’ll go up against Zimbabwe Taka Bembere at Colne Muni on August 31st before stepping up to six rounds against Jamie Speight at King George’s Hall on November 2nd.
Holmes said: “Colne Muni is an awesome venue, the noise just echoes around it, and it should be even busier this time as well. You can never under-estimate anyone.
“Every time I go in to the ring I approach it like it’s a title fight. I’ll always put 110% in to everything so that I’m always ready. I’ll be prepared.”
Speight would then pose his biggest challenge yet. The Devonshire lightweight, known as ‘The Genius’, has had a distinguished career spanning a decade, taking on Josh Warrington and Isaac Lowe for the English title at 126lbs as well as Reece Bellotti, Joe Cordina and Reece Mould.
The 30-year-old, who has now surpassed 50 contests, squared up against WBA World Super Bantamweight title challenger Gavin McDonnell at the Magna Centre in Rotherham last week.
“It’s been moved to November and it will be my first six-rounder, which is a good way to end the year,” Holmes said.
“He’s been in with some really good lads and it will be a step up in terms of opponent. It will be a good test. He certainly knows his way around the ring so I’ll have to be at my best.
“It’s one of those names on my record that could help me climb those rankings, a win would help me get my name out there. I want to climb those rankings and this is a test I feel I will be able to handle.
“I’ve not really looked at any potential fights for the future. I’m just taking it one fight at a time. When the bigger fights do come I’ll be ready to take them.
“The one at the end of the year could put me in a good place heading in to 2020 and the offers will soon come.”
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.