Jack Jacobs of BBN popped in to the famous Peacock Gym in Canning Town to quiz the Frank Warren-managed debutant.
Hainault's James Branch tells all about his stellar amateur career, recently defeating 4-0 pro Dan Azeez to win the England Boxing’s Senior Elite 86kg title, and how he is following in the direct path his father took in boxing many years before him.
What made you want to start boxing?
“So, I started boxing when I was eight-years-old, my dad took me down to the Repton Amateur Boxing Club, I have always been involved in boxing because my dad was a successful boxer himself, so I was brought up with it. I didn’t enjoy team sports as much, I have always been more of an individual sportsman so I started boxing and never looked back really.”
Who was your boxing hero growing up and why?
“I would have to say two people - Tomas Hearns, he’s my favourite boxer, and the other one would be Prince Naseem Hamed. Those styles, that reflex style, making them pay, that’s what I looked up to.”
How old were you when you had your first fight and how did you do?
“I never had my first fight until I was 13, It was actually out in Denmark at a tournament and I won that, I boxed twice in two days and I also won best boxer of the tournament. I had to prove I was who I said I was on my medical card, I couldn’t believe it.”
How well did you do in the amateurs?
“So, in the amateurs I won seven national titles, I won three GB titles, I won gold medals at various tournaments all over. I ended up having 50 fights with 47 wins, the highlight would be the Senior ABA’s because it was just such a prestigious title to win in this country, that would be my biggest achievement so far.”
What made you decide to turn pro?
“There was nothing left for me to do in the amateurs, I was unlucky to miss out on the Olympics, I missed out because of an injury, so me and my dad sat down and we came to the conclusion that it was time to turn over. I took six months going around to different pro gyms, seeing different trainers, every gym had a different feel, a mix of environments. When I went into the Peacock Gym that’s where I felt most at home, Martin Bowers took me in and it’s been great ever since.”
What team do you have around you?
“So, I’m training with Tony and Martin Bowers at the moment, also training alongside Daniel Dubois, Anthony Yarde, and loads of really talented boxers, it’s a powerhouse of a gym.
I am signed with Frank Warren, which is funny really because when my dad signed pro he was also signed with Frank and trained by Martin Bowers, so I’m following his path.”
Are you full-time as a pro?
“Yes, I am a full time professional now, I packed in work and every day is full time boxing now, I am fortunate enough to be full time, so I’m in a good position.”
What sort of fighting style do you have?
“I am an awkward slick southpaw, to be honest, I’m also a counter-puncher, I try to bust them up and break them down. I think it will go down well in the paid ranks, I have noticed the pros is a lot slower, the pace, so hopefully I can get them walking onto everything, make them miss, and I’m studying everything so I feel ready to go.”
What ambitions do you have for your pro career?
“Yeah, I mean, obviously go all the way and win a world title, I think as long as I dedicate myself to it and pick the right fights at the right times I can work through the traditional way. I’m in no rush in 2018, I’m only 20, so I will take my time, settle in, have four to five fights this year and in 2019 start pushing on.”
When is your first fight and who will be there in support?
“June 23rd will be my first fight, I should have a massive following coming along, family, friends and I have sold a lot of tickets so it’s looking good. I have had a lot of messages showing interest and its crazy the support I have had so looking forward to performing in front of them.”
James would like to thank sponsors VORTO TRADING, PLAN CARS in Epping, and RINGSIDE BOXING for supporting him.