It’s not uncommon for rising prospects to run their records to double figures before they’re required to pass a ‘gut check’. Not so aspiring Belvedere bantam Jake Pettitt, writes Glynn Evans.
The 19 year old brother of ex world-rated super-bantam Lewis, jumpin’ Jake was moments away from conceding his unbeaten tag on his paid debut against Sheffield’s shifty Anwar Alfadli at Brentwood in June.
Despite registering a brace of knockdowns, Pettitt was gushing like a tap from gashes to both his scalp and eyelid and the doctor was summoned in the fourth and final round.
‘I was very nervous but dropped Alfadli with the first punch I threw, a backhand over the top, then got cut from a head clash in round two,’ recalls the 5ft 6in Greenwich born starlet who is managed by Andy Ayling.
‘Though I was controlling it, the doc was very close to stopping me after another bump in round four left a massive gash on my scalp. It didn’t help that Alfadli’s corner were trying to persuade the ref to pull me.
‘Thankfully I was allowed to continue. There were just two minutes left and I just danced around flicking the jab. I even made Anwar fall through the ropes. Though I needed 10 stitches later, I didn’t get fazed and got loads of praise for my composure afterwards which was nice.’
Displaying guts and grace way beyond his callow years, Pettit was rewarded with a 40-34 shutout.
The youngest of five kin born to an amateur boxing coach, it was perhaps inevitable that Jake, like his three elder brothers, would mount the ring steps.
‘Football was always my thing as a kid and I played for the Charlton Athletic Academy up until the age of about 12,’ says Pettitt who moonlights at Dad Tony’s glazing company.
‘But I’d been running around a boxing gym since the age of five so was always likely to have a go. I won my first fight against (ex European bantamweight champion) Ian Napa’s son, aged 11.
‘I ended up having 31 bouts and lost only three. I got robbed badly in the Junior ABA final and lost in the BoxCup over in Sweden but won for England against Ireland.
‘I attended the GB squads but they already had their favourites and it was hard to break through. By 18, the time had come to up my training and learn different things.’
Predictably, he opted to pursue his professional ambitions from the close knit iBox fight family, run by Alan Smith in Bromley.
‘I’d followed Lewis there since I was a junior and, straight away, Al took an interest and taught me new stuff,’ says the Liverpool fan who likes to relax with a game of tennis or golf.
‘There’s a great relationship between all the boys and Al’s really easy to get along with. He’s got a great boxing brain and really understands how fighters’ bodies work.
‘In addition to my stablemates, I’ve been sparring (IBF bantam boss) Ryan Burnett and Charlie Edwards. I’ve also learnt so much from Lew; not just technical stuff but also outside lifestyle, the importance of dieting, running, strength and conditioning.’
Sensibly, he is content for the more seasoned sages in his set-up to scheme his route to the titles.
‘Having turned so young, I’ve the luxury of taking things slowly whilst I learn and my man strength develops naturally. If I have 20 fights without fighting for a title, it won’t be a problem,’ he insists.
‘My hero is Manny Pacquiao and my nickname is ‘Pacman’. In his prime Manny was unbeatable. Like him, I’m a southpaw who bounces in and out of range with fast hands and quick feet. My best assets are my footwork and balance.
‘When I first started out as a junior, I was actually orthodox but I gradually turned southpaw and now I switch hit which makes it harder for opponents to work me out. From a southpaw stance, I’ve a dangerous back hand.’
The south London cub receives a golden opportunity to showcase his wares when he warms up the early birds on the marathon world championship bill at Hackney’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday week. He does not intend to profligate.
‘I can’t thank Al and Frank (Warren) enough for putting me on such a big bill and allowing me to show what I’m all about,’ he finishes.
‘I intend delivering a brilliant performance. Nothing less than a grade A will satisfy me.’
Billy Joe Saunders defends his WBO Middleweight World title against Willie Monroe Jr in the evening’s main event; Ilford Light-Heavyweight Anthony Yarde takes on Norbert Nemesapati for the WBO Intercontinental and European belts and teenage Heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois takes on AJ Carter for the Vacant Southern Area strap in only his fifth contest
Some of the very best up-and-coming prospects in the country including Welling Super-Featherweight Archie Sharp; Ilford Super-Bantamweight Lucien Reid; Fulham Super-Middleweight Zak Chelli and Erith Flyweight Jake Pettit feature. Ilford Welterweight Hamza Sheeraz, Tamworth Light-Heavyweight Ryan Hatton and Ilford Super-Middleweight Umar Sadiq all make their highly-anticipated pro debuts.
Tickets for Saunders vs. Monroe Jr priced at £40, £50, £70, £100, £150, £200 and £250 (VIP/Hospitality) are available from:
Saunders v Monroe Jr Fight Week Schedule:
Wednesday September 13, 1.00pm start, Media Work Out, Peacock Gymnasium, 8-9 Caxton St N, London, E16 1JL.
Thursday September 14, 11.00 for 11.30am start, Final Press Conference, BT Sport Production Hub, off Waterden Road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3BS.
Friday September 15, 1.30pm start, Official Weigh-in, BT Sport Production Hub, off Waterden Road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3BS.