Chatham’s Grant Dennis (10-0) travelled to Sheffield to spar with WBO middleweight king Billy Joe Saunders (25-0) in preparation for his shot at the vacant English middleweight championship against Rickmansworth’s Elliot Matthews (19-0-1) on December 1 at York Hall.
The 33-year-old from Medway said, “I went up to the famous Ingle Gym in Sheffield to get eight-rounds of sparring in with Billy Joe Saunders and it was a good, competitive spar between us.
“It was good to get that experience in – world level experience – so it’s all good preparation for December 1st.”
The English championship contest between Dennis and Matthews takes place on a British Warrior Boxing Promotions event on the first day of December within the hallowed walls of the York Hall in London.
Matthews, 36, is a former Southern Area middleweight champion unbeaten in 20 bouts, and Dennis, unbeaten in 10, is the current holder of that same title.
When asked what effect sparring with a world champion would have on his performane, Dennis enthused, “Boost the confidence tenfold, having sparred at world level, massive boost for me!
“He is one of only three in the middleweight division that are king, so it shows where I am at in my levels as well.
“They have invited me back up for more sparring when I can so definitely gonna’ do a few more rounds with him during this training camp. The more I can get in, the better.”
Billy Joe Saunders is preparing to defend his WBO belt in Canada against their biggest boxing star David Lemieux on December 16.
The hard-hitting Canadian will be the biggest test of the former Beijing 2008 Olympian’s career.
Often accused of not getting conditioned well enough for fights, Dennis shared his first-hand view on the 28-year-old history-making Romany gypsy, “He seems to be in a good place, he’s got the bug back and that burning desire, so he’s training very hard, he’s very sharp and looking good.”
Dennis, trained by Veron Quammie at the Medway Boxing Club, is not only benefitting from elite sparring with BJS but also other top southpaws as well, he elucidated, “Lerrone Richards is a very good fighter, I’ve already sparred with him. Freddie Luke Turner is another decent sparring partner for me and my trainer has got more lined up.
“All three – Bill, Lerrone, Freddie – are southpaws, so perfect sparring for me.”
The unbeaten Medway middleweight, managed by Joe Elfidh, has previously benefitted from taking the short trip down to Brighton to mix it with IBO super-middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr.
Saunders is the only blemish on the 28-year-old Brighton boxer’s record and Dennis took the time to compare the two rivals, stating, “With Eubank Jr, he’s more explosive, more of a fighter; he likes to fight.
“BJS is more like myself; he can have a fight but bit more of a thinker, more of a boxer, but that comes down to his amateur pedigree whereas Chris didn’t really have that, and so he is more of a fighter.
“Fitness, too, with Chris, he’s prepared to throw leather for as long as he can, really.”