Undefeated Tom Baker has been preparing for his English Light-Heavyweight title showdown against Margate’s Jack Morris with a little help from the British Army’s 4th Rifles Battalion.
The Chingford star, a former Southern Area Super-Middleweight Champion, goes head to head with Morris at York Hall on Friday 25th March, exclusively live on BoxNation.
The Rifles is the largest Infantry regiment within the British Army and the 4th Rifles boast the strongest boxing team within the regiment. 24 year-old Baker was put through his paces by the very best boxers the 4th Rifles had to offer.
Baker said: “They were an absolute pleasure to work with. They’re all doing us proud and do a brilliant job at protecting our country. I did 14 rounds with them and we all had a good laugh. They all fancied having a go with me, even the smaller ones!”
Baker stepped up to 175 pounds in his last fight when he outpointed Darren Cruise over ten rounds in July and is now intent on making his mark in the division starting with Morris.
One of 13 children from a Romany gypsy family, Baker has been sparring with Ovill McKenzie at Canning Town’s Peacock Gym. McKenzie, 36, who has previously won a Commonwealth title at light-heavyweight and Commonwealth and British title at cruiserweight, is proving to be the perfect sparring partner for Baker.
“Sparring has been going really well with Ovill. He’s a similar type of fighter to Jack Morris so it’s great preparation for me. Obviously he punches a lot harder than Morris but they’re similar in their boxing style and similar in build. Ovill is the closest style you’re going to get to Morris and I’ve been holding my own with him,” said Baker.
He added: “I’m really pleased with how my training camp is going. I’m feeling fit and well and can’t wait to win that English title. I think the way Morris fights suits me, he comes on and I’m going to pick him off. I’m flying at the moment and fancy my chances to knock him out in the later stages.”
Mark Tibbs, trainer of Baker, invited soldiers from the 4th Rifles Battalion along to the West Ham Boys Amateur Boxing Club for sparring after being impressed by their professionalism and love of boxing.
“They’re a cracking set of lads and we let them use the gym every now and then when we have the space. They do an amazing job at looking after our country so we let them use the gym for nothing; it’s the least we can do,” said Tibbs.
He added: “I had a look at a couple of their bigger lads and thought it would be a good idea to get them in the ring with Tom for a few rounds just to break him to his sparring; before I knew it they’d brought a whole battalion down!”
West Ham ABC was formed in 1922 in the heart of East London and has produced countless national amateur champions over the years. Mark, son of the legendary Jimmy Tibbs, was delighted to welcome the 4th Rifles into his gym.
He said: “My dad and Billy Joe Saunders had one ring while me and Tom took the other. We went through a lot of them, Tom and Billy Joe must have done about 20 rounds a piece! Sam McNess, Ben Smith and Billy Morgan all had a bit of sparring from them as well and it was all good fun and games,”
“The Army has turned those lads into disciplined and respectful men and the way they conducted themselves really lifted my spirits. They came back the next day to present us with a plaque which was a really nice touch. They’re top men and will always be welcome to come down and use the gym.”
Main event on the card see Gary Corcoran and Danny Butler collide for the Vacant WBO Intercontinental Junior Middleweight Championship and chief-support features Tom Baker and Jack Morris clash for the Vacant English Light-Heavyweight Championship. On the undercard, some of the best young prospects continue in their careers: unbeaten light-welterweight ace Romeo Romaeo takes on Prague’s Michal Dufek over eight rounds; Chingford super-featherweight Boy Jones Jnr and Dagenham lightweight Ediz Hussein, both in separate six rounders; West Ham super-welterweight Sammy McNess, Ilford light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde; Welling lightweight Archie Sharp; Chelmsford super-middleweight Billy Long and Sidcup super-featherweight D.P Carr, all compete over four rounds.
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