Exactly one year to the day of his last fight, undefeated super-bantamweight prospect Brad Strand (4-0, 1KO) will be back in the ring on Friday, July 30.
Strand will join teammates Jack McKinlay (2-0) and Nick Ball (13-0, 6KOs) on the Black Flash Promotions event, aptly titled ‘Back in Business’, at the Devonshire House Hotel in Liverpool.
The 24-year-old Liverpudlian will take part in a six-round super-bantamweight contest against an opponent yet to be confirmed.
Strand won both his fights in 2020, which included a TV debut on BT Sport on July 31, after signing contracts with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren in February 2020.
He talked excitedly of his first fight back after an entire year away, “I can’t wait! I’m proper looking forward to it!
“I feel a lot stronger than before because I’m coming down from a heavier weight. This next fight will be at super-bantamweight – as normal – but I’ve put on quite a bit of muscle and will come back down to make the weight.
“I’ve always made the weight too easy in the past,” he continued, “whereas now I walk around a little heavier, then drop down for the fight, but I still make the weight easily.”
His fifth professional contest will be the first time moving up to six rounds, which he ensures he is completely comfortable with, “I’ve always sparred four, six, eight and even 10 rounds so I’ve not done anything different to prepare for this.
“I sparred this week, but we don’t spar all the time, just when we have a fight date ready because you don’t want to be taking too much punishment if you don’t need to.”
Strand trains at Everton Red Triangle gym in Liverpool with head coach Paul Stevenson, alongside fellow unbeaten prospects Nick Ball and Andrew Cain (7-0, 6KOs); who are both also signed to Warren.
“It’s good in the gym right now, there’s a few of us in there. Obviously, we just had Peter [McGrail] go off to join the bubble for the Olympics. We had a few weeks training with him and a few spars; it’s always good to have him in the gym because he’s training in Sheffield with Team GB most of the time.”
Peter McGrail is a European and Commonwealth Games champion who hones is craft at the Triangle along with five professional prospects, which includes Strand.
“The gym is run tight; not like being in school and being told what to do, but I’ve been in other gyms and anything goes; but it all shows in our success as fighters and it’ll only be another year or so until we get the wider recognition we all deserve.”
A fan of Thomas Hearns and his rangey style of fighting, Strand’s last fight was against 85-fight veteran Brett Fidoe, who has just won his last two fights this month (June 2021) against a debutant, then Celtic and WBO European champion, Tyrone McCullagh.
Strand won all four rounds against the dangerous journeyman, nicknamed ‘The Threat’, in July last year, and shared his experience fighting against him, “He was decent, very experienced, and just harder to catch clean than any other opponents. When you got on the inside, he would go to work straightaway because he’s just so experienced and comfortable in there.
“I think sometimes people look at the record, I know he’s lost more than he’s won, and they mistakenly go into it not expecting much, then get caught cold. You’ve got to be ready for every opponent because it’s just you and him on the night.”
Despite the hiatus and inevitable ‘itchy knuckles syndrome’, Strand is confident his performance will be just as good as if he’s never been away, “I’ve never been the type to be a bit too eager, I’m always quite calm, so I’m just going to enjoy it.”
He then shared his goals for the rest of the year, “I just want to get some more fights in. Normally, I would have been about 11 or 12-0 by now, but it’s been slow so just want to get back to normal to be as busy as possible. Hopefully, I’ll get a few dates off Frank Warren before the end of the year.”
The Friday fight night event on July 30 is suitably named ‘Back in Business’ and also features Strand's gymmates JAck McKinlay and Nick Ball, as well as stablemate Carly Skelly (3-0-1), from nearby Litherland.
Former English super-flyweight champion Marcel Braithwaite (9-3) heads back to the ring for the first time since back-to-back defeats to world title contender Jay Harris and Britain’s newest world champion Sunny Edwards, who Braithwaite knocked down during their 2019 British title clash.
Mozambique-born Merseysider Dexter Makaza (1-0), a 27-year-old light-heavyweight from Liverpool, is also in action on the night; as are debutants Leon Willings from Widnes, and Rebecca Ainscough from Liverpool.
Tickets are £50 for ringside, and £35 of outer ring seats.
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Starting at nine-years-old, the talented amateur won the Schoolboys Juniors and Seniors, as well as winning three gold medals in the Three Nations, gold at the Haringey Box Cup, culminating in becoming the national champion in 2018 when he won the 2018 ABA Elites. He finished his amateur career with a record of 55 wins and 15 defeats.