NEW: Our fighting talk feature on what’s said and done inside – and outside – of the ropes, this week featuring the burgeoning business empire of Lewis Pettitt, Jack Catterall on the arrival of Ohara Davies and Bradley Skeete holding up the queue…
Hooks & Jabs
By Richard Hubbard
WHILE NOT STICKING his fingers inside boxing gloves most evenings at the bustling iBox Gym in Bromley, the digits of Lewis Pettitt have been firmly planted in a number of far more profitable pies.
The Erith featherweight could possibly have been accused of not having his mind 100 per cent focused on the job a few years ago, particularly when he suffered a shock late defeat to Bobby Jenkinson for the Commonwealth title back in 2015.
It was probably because he had his attention divided between too many jobs at the same time.
You see Lewis is something of an entrepreneur, the Arthur Daley of boxing, if you like. He doesn’t rely on success in the ring for his nice little earner.
His workload, until earlier this year, consisted of his day job as a Quantity Surveyor, as well as being the proprietor of the ‘Bagel Shop’, which has now successfully transformed into the Heatlh Kitchen.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep him occupied, he then took ownership of a local beauty salon.
And he also did a bit of boxing in the evenings…
As he now attacks his sporting passion with renewed vigour – Lewis is set to take on Raza Hamza at the 02 Arena on June 23 – the 27-year-old has streamlined his professional portfolio.
He no longer works as a surveyor and is in position to simply oversee two thriving enterprises.
“It was a big decision because I did it ever since I left school, so that is the last nine or ten years I have been a surveyor and it is all I’ve known,” reasoned the featherweight. “I worked boxing around it.
“As I’ve built up the other business over the last three years it then got to the point when I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t work, box and run two businesses.”
The Health Kitchen pretty much does what it says in the tin in providing healthy prepared options for pugilists and public alike.
British welterweight champion Bradley Skeete was first in the queue for some healthy dining.
“We’ve got a nutritionist onboard and we’ve done Brad’s food since the Sam Eggington fight – it was a great one to launch with!
“We weigh all the food and calorie it all up and we now do food for quite a few boxers, including Johnny Garton.
“We do quite a few outside of this gym too.
“A lot of people come in and buy the containers and you could walk in there now and pick them up. Or you could walk in, order ten and pick them up tomorrow.”
Boxing and ‘eating clean’ seems like a natural fit, so how did a beauty salon get added to the list of business interests?
“It was a bit weird really,” added the former WBA Intercontinental champion at super bantamweight. “It was a shop that me and my older brother always said we would buy if it came up for sale and then one day it did.
“So I got it and left it how it was because it is a decent sunbed shop with a good turnover. There are also rooms at the back that we rent out, so we have a counsellor in one and a beutician in the other.
“I have got them to the point now where they run themselves and I hardly ever go to the sunbed shop (although his younger brother Jake clearly takes advantage of a few freebees).”
So given his roaring success in the fields of catering and tanning, would the winning of a British title still take precedence over any Businessman of the Year award?
I’M ALRIGHT, JACK
Jack Catterall sent, via Twitter, a very succinct and quickly to the point welcome message when his weight division rival Ohara Davies joined the Frank Warren ranks at the end of the January.
The brief missive went like this.
“Would love to smack the dog s**t out of you #Welcomed”
That was the end of the correspondence because, Jack insists, colourful character Ohara being added to the roster makes no odds to him, although he acknowledges trading punches with the recent recruit is probably inevitable at some point.
“Nothing really, I sent him a welcome message, but I don’t pay any attention to Ohara Davies,” said the Chorley super lightweight, who returns to the ring on Saturday, live on BoxNation. “I know that a few people are trying to build a fight between us and, of course, it is a possible fight for this year, but I focus on me.
“We’ve both got a fight scheduled, but when the time is right and that fight does get made, which I believe it will, I will get my teeth stuck into it then.
“Right now he is not on my mind too much.”
Should Terry Flanagan overcome Maurice Hooker to win the vacant WBO world title on a date soon to be revealed, could the two young contenders slugging it out for the right to fight the Manchester man be on the cards?
“I believe so and it has been mentioned, but previous to him being signed it was looking like a straight defence against me, but that is boxing for you.
“Things chop and change overnight, so that doesn’t bother me and I would lose any sleep over it.
“It will just make it sweeter when I do get to the Terry fight,” considered Jack, who does see the appeal of what would surely be a box office hit.
“I want to be involved in good fights and Ohara has a bigger profile than I do. That doesn’t bother me although he bangs on about that quite a bit. I am happy as I am, I’ve got the British title, the WBO belt and a good ranking, so if that fight gets made it can only benefit me.”
WAIT YOUR TURN
THE BRITISH WELTERWEIGHT title – along with the belt that is his for keeps – remains firmly in the possession of the current holder Bradley Skeete – and he is in no hurry to relinquish his hard-earned stripes.
Bradley recorded a third defence of his belt in July when he outpointed Dale Evans and it was assumed he would swiftly be turning his attention to grander titles.
He is finally doing just that on April 28 when he heads off to Bilbao to challenge for the vacant European title against Kerman Lejarraga, but the jewel in the domestic crown is still not something he is going to give up lightly.
“I don’t know the rules and ins and outs, but I’m just biding my time,” revealed the 30-year-old, who accepts he will probably be parted from his prize if successful in Bilbao. “I’m not going to give it up just for the sake of it because I worked hard for that belt and to have the title British welterweight champion means something and I will hold that until I move on.
“I am moving on now to win the European title and then Johnny Garton will be taking over,” he added on his stablemate, who he suspects has increased the spite level in sparring due to being held in the waiting room.
“I have been keeping him waiting, I know. I’ve noticed in sparring that he has been hitting me a bit hard so I think he wants me to hurry up!
“His time will come and he is getting good momentum so when he does fight for it I believe he goes on and does good things.”