Decorated amateur champion Jack Budge (1-0) has signed professional contracts with expanding Kent-based promotional outfit, JE Promotions.
The 23-year-old featherweight from Medway is scheduled to fight next on May 5 at Mote Park, Maidstone on a JE Promotions event.
Budge hails from High Halstow, a tiny village along the Hoo Peninsula in Kent, which overlooks the Thames and Medway rivers.
The former amateur champion has a long list of accolades from his first fight in 2007 to beating the world no.1 at 52kg in 2012.
He said, “Every year from 2007, I either reached the ABA schoolboys semis or the finals. In 2008, I lost in the finals of the schoolboys to Jack Bateson; in 2009 and 2010, I reached the schoolboys and CYP semi-finals and reached the finals in an international competition in Ireland.
“In 2011, I went out to Denmark and won a gold medal in an international tournament; I also got to the semis of the ABA and CYP, and again in 2011; then, in 2012, I won the ABA’s and the Three Nations.
“The Three Nations was special because I beat a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in the first round and gave him a standing eight-count, then I beat Oliver Simpson in the final – he went on to win the World Championships in that year.”
Yorkshire’s Simpson, from Kelly’s ABC, was one of only two winners from England to bring home a gold medal in the 2012 AIBA Youth World Championships, the other was Tyson fury’s cousin, Hughie.
Budge continued to explain, “I got selected for the Team GB Development Squad and travelled up to Sheffield for a few weekends, but I didn’t get through to the final selections. I wasn’t an ideal student, I’d be sneaking in chocolate at night!”
The talented amateur looked destined to sign professional contracts with a high-profile promoter but he suffered an horrendous injury when taking part in another dangerous sport away from boxing.
“I was an apprentice jockey and had a bad accident when I fell off my horse. I broke my cheekbone and nose, so ended up having three years out, altogether.”
Working as a jockey in Lambourn, Berkshire, led Budge, when fully recovered from his injuries, to sign a pro contract with Chris Sanigar.
He won his debut at Whitchurch Leisure Centre in Bristol against journeyman Harvey Hemsley (3-23-1) in April 2016, aged 21.
“I was an apprentice jockey in Lambourn and the Sanigars were the closest promoters. My trainer was Liam Wilkins and I won my pro debut but my head weren’t in it at the time because I went through a messy breakup and started going out all the time, and, obviously, you can’t play at this game, so I didn’t renew my boxing license when it came to it.
“I split well with everyone, Jamie [Sanigar] messaged me last night and wished me all the best, and Chris [Sanigar] said he’d love for me to fight on his shows again in the future.”
The Medway man’s new setup is with trainer Billy Beck at has old amateur gym, Brompton ABC, as well as also training with Pat Hawley at Moore’s Gym in Rochester Health Club.
His first fight under the JE Promotions banner will be May 5 at Mote Park, Maidstone.
“I’m next out in May and we’re already talking about getting straight out again afterwards. If my trainers think I’m ready, then I’ll move up to six-rounders next, and I’m looking at fighting for the Southern Area title by the end of the year.”
The current Southern Area champion at featherweight is Kingsteington’s Jamie Speight, who claimed the strap by beating Budge’s new stablemate Martin Hillman at Mote Park last May.
“I’ve always been a big ticket seller, so I expect to bring a big crowd to the local show in May,” the 23-year-old continued.
“If I win the British [title], I’d be over the moon, but I’m in this game to win a world title.
“I’ve done a lot of rounds with Andrew Selby before he won the British [flyweight] title and done a lot with Commonwealth [super-bantamweight] champ Ashley Lane.”
The featherweight division is a hotbed of talent right now with two-weight world champion Carl Frampton leading the pack, followed closely by IBF World champion Lee Selby and his forthcoming challenger Josh Warrington, as well as former WBA World titlist Scott Quigg.
“The featherweight division is a very good weight class, there’s a lot of talent in there, there’s the Selby v Warrington fight coming up, but I’m not shy to say that I can get in there and mix it with the best of them.”
JE Promotions’ next event, titled “Make or Break” will be held at Mote Park in Maidstone on February 24th.