EDWIN Cleary believes he has “the future of heavyweight boxing” in his Leamington gym.
“I know people say this sort of thing all the time,” said ex-pro Cleary, “but we’ve not just got one, or even two, but three heavyweight prospects in the gym.”
Anthony Joshua and Frazer Clarke know all about Lewis Williams having regularly sparred the lofty 22 year old at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. Williams, who recently underwent surgery on a shoulder injury that’s troubled him for a while, is currently campaigning at 91kgs, the weight where he was named Best Senior Boxer at the 2017 Haringey Box Cup and won the Elites the following season.
But he sees his future up at super-heavyweight. “I’m 6ft 6ins tall and my weight keeps going up,” said Williams, a quarter finalist at the World Youth Championship in Russia in 2016. “I can’t out battle super-heavyweights yet, but I’m learning tricks and I’m still growing.
“I will be too quick for the super-heavyweights and after I’ve added 20kgs I will be too strong as well.”
Williams, who takes his hit-and-don’t-get-hit philosophy from boyhood hero Muhammad Ali, is small compared to gym mate Matt Harris, who, after only seven amateur bouts, is already on the radar of professional managers. Harris stands a bit taller than a towering 6ft 8ins, weighs around 120kgs and though he’s yet to get beyond even the Warwickshire final of the Development Championship, the 21-year-old is wanted as a sparring partner by top pros.
Why? Because, says Cleary, he’s “young, hungry and can punch.”
Daniel James (Bakehouse) went on to win the Developments in 2019 after narrowly outpointing Harris, but on another occasion, the bout may have been stopped in Harris’s favour in the opening round. He handed James a count in the opening round and says: “Everyone I hit with my right hand either goes on the floor or is rocked.”
Harris added: “The offers I’ve had from the pros have been amazing for my confidence, but it’s a bit early yet.
“I’ve been only doing this for three years and Edwin keeps reminding me I’m a novice.
“I have an elite fighters’ mentality, but Edwin says I’m still a novice and he knows boxing. He was an amateur and a pro. He knows what it takes.”
Cleary, who was mentored by the late Jackie Turpin as a boy and fought out of the Ingle’s gym during his 12-fight pro career, said: “If he keeps listening and learning, he’s going to be unstoppable.
“I can’t see why both Matty and Lewis won’t be boxing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
That is the aim of both and they also want to go to the Olympics before turning over. Harris regards Williams as an inspiration.
The first time Joe Guest-Bourne walked into the gym he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “I’m used to being the biggest in the gym,” said the 24 year old who stands 6ft 5ins tall and weighs 140kgs. “I went to Edwin’s and there were two bigger than me. It was a shock.
“Now I realise I’m lucky to be in the gym with two lads who are bigger and better than me.”
Guest-Bourne is the novice of the three having yet to make his debut. His white-collar opponents all folded inside a round and he said: “I wanted to feel as though I had been in a fight. I was told: ‘If you want to do it properly, go and see Edwin.’”
That was a year – and 27kgs – ago. “I’m learning every time I spar Matt,” said Guest-Bourne, “and I believe if you put me in with another debutant, I would be a level above them.”
Guest-Bourne made the switch to boxing after representing Warwickshire at rugby and competing in the World Powerlifting Championship in Japan. “I decided I had to do something new to make myself feel better and now the goal is to turn professional,” he said.
Cleary said: “Joe is a winner in everything he does. He’s surprisingly light on his feet, has a good jab, is very strong – and can really punch.
“He’s an athlete and he’s learning quickly.”
Williams, Harris and Guest-Bourne all see their future in the pros, following in the footsteps of Cleary’s clubmates Mike Cole and Danny Quartermaine, a massive ticket seller who made a winning start to his professional career 12 months ago.
Quartermaine, described as having “a heavyweight heart” by Cleary and a veteran of 89 amateur bouts before making the switch, said, “The big lads are drawing attention to the gym and that has to be good for me.”
Cleary says, “I’ve always wanted to do what Brendan Ingle did and take lads from teaching them how to throw a left and right to the top of boxing.”