National amateur champion and unbeaten professional Brad Strand (3-0, 1KO) makes his TV debut this Friday, July 31, live on BT Sport, behind closed doors in their Stratford-based studios.
He is joined by his Everton Red Triangle Gym teammates Nick Ball (12-0, 6KOs) and Andrew Cain (5-0, 5KOs) on the third show of Queensberry Boxing’s summer series, as champion Lyndon Arthur (16-0, 12KOs) defends his Commonwealth light-heavyweight title to challenger Dec Spelman (16-3, 8KOs) in the main event.
Strand was crowned ABA Elites champion in 2018, which capped off a glittering amateur career that saw him collect Schoolboys Juniors and Seniors titles, three gold medals in the Three Nations, gold at the Haringey Box Cup, finishing his amateur career with a record of 55 wins and 15 defeats.
After swapping the amateur code for the professional ranks, 23-year-old Strand reached 3-0 within his first year punching for pay, between March 2019 to February 2020.
His debut assignment was against a fellow debutant Lee Stevens from County Durham, who was forced to retired after the second round had finished due to a badly swollen eye. Then, the Liverpudlian scored two shutout points victories against his following two foes, before COVID-19 ground everyone’s life to an unexpected halt.
The super-bantamweight continued his roadwork during lockdown, but is pleased to be back in the gym again. He said, “At first, I was just running during lockdown, trying to test myself and beat my times, but when I got told I was fighting I started training again for boxing. I was dying to get back in the gym!”
Strand signed contracts with Frank Warren in February this year, shortly before he secured his third professional victory at the Grand Central Hall in Liverpool.
He’s now looking forward to his first fight under the Queensberry Promotions banner, “I’m made up to making my TV debut,” he enthused. “Obviously, when you turn pro, these are the shows you want to be on so I’m just happy to get the opportunity.
“It has come early in my career after just two fights at the time, but not early for me because it’s the platform I want to be on.”
Both Ball and Cain also signed terms with Warren at the same time, undefeated in 20 bouts between them they all train out of the century-old Everton Red Triangle Gym in Liverpool under the watchful eye of respected trainer, Paul Stevenson.
The team are all together in London as they prepare for the biggest platform of their careers so far.
“It’s just the same as any other fight really,” Strand shrugged. “Paul told us that it will be different and a little weird, but we’re all together and that makes it easier for us.”
The trio have had the advantage of being able to train and spar together in their gym for the past seven weeks.
“With me, Nick and Andy on the same show, it’s an advantage because we’re all in camp together, so we’ve been lucky in that way. I wouldn’t have got any better sparring if I’d have travelled than with these two. We’ve probably been back in for seven to eight weeks, so it’s been a good, long camp.”
The lack of live audiences has also made life easier, according to Brad. He explained, “The shows being behind closed doors is a bit weird, but in a way it’s better by not worrying about the ticket sales, so there’s just one thing to focus on – the fight. There’s no chasing people for money, just training and fighting, whereas normally I’ll be going home and chasing people for money and tickets in the evenings.”
So far, Queensberry Promotions have already staged two events behind closed doors, with Brad Foster kicking off the summer schedule in style by securing his Lonsdale belt outright on July 10, then unbeaten heavyweight Joe Joyce flattened Michael Wallisch in three rounds last weekend.
“I only watched one – the first show,” admitted Strand. “I just watched it to see what the venue looked so I could get a feel for it and be able to visualise it for fight night. Fans aren’t used to the sound of the gloves or the corner’s voices, but when you’re in there you hear all those shots as normal.
“Yeah, it will be different and a bit unusual, but can’t let that get to you.”
A huge fan of Thomas Hearns, Strand is a 5ft 7in-tall and likes boxing at range. He has experienced journeyman Brett Fidoe in the opposite corner on Friday, who fought on the last show as him on February 28.
Strand’s teammate Connor Butler (4-0-1) defeated Brett ‘The Threat’ 37-39 on points and was made to work hard to get the win.
“I think I caught a couple of the rounds when I was there at the show. I didn’t ask Connor much, but I know he’s very experienced,” Strand said.
He concluded, “I’d like to say thanks to my sponsors for helping through lockdown, they allowed me to carry on training.”
The five-fight card will also see fellow Everton Red Triangle teammates in action, as Nick Ball (12-0, 6KOs) clashes with Jerome Campbell (6-0, 1KO), over eight rounds; as well as KO artist Andrew Cain (5-0, 5KOs), who has knocked out all his opponents within three rounds or less so far.
Belfast boxer Caoimhin Agyarko (6-0, 3KO’s) meets Jez Smith (11-1-1, 5KOs) in a 10-rounds middleweight showdown.
The headlining fight between Arthur-Spelman is expected to start at around 10pm.
You can catch the action live on BT Sport 1 from 7:15pm.
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