Big Interview: Promising Eccleston boxer Mark Jeffers
Craig Salmon talks to rising Eccleston supermiddleweight boxer Mark Jeffers, who faces the biggest fight of his fledgling career next month
There must have been the odd occasion growing up when Mark Jeffers needed that extra bit of motivation in the boxing gym.
There is nothing like the harsh brutality of getting the body into shape for what is often described as the ‘ultimate sport’.
Jeffers, who hails from the village of Eccleston which is just outside Chorley, has always been someone who has put the hard yards in to keep in tip top condition.
But if he ever required inspiration for that extra lung-bursting run or heavy deadlift – then all he needed to do was look around his surroundings.
Attached to Jennings Gym, in Coppull Mill, the establishments is headed by trainer Mick Jennings – a former British super welterweight champion who fought for the world title in New York but lost to the legendary Miguel Cotto.
If Jennings – who runs the gym alongside his brother Dave – has set the standard, then there are plenty from the gym who have followed his lead. Chorley’s Jack Catterall has spent many hours putting the work in at the gym.
He is a former British lightweight champion and in a couple of months’ time puts his 26-0 unbeaten professional record on the line when he fights Josh Taylor in a blockbuster clash to become the undisputed world champion in Glasgow.
Then there are fighters such as Preston’s Scott Fitzgerald and Blackpool’s Matty Askin who have both passed through the gym on their way to claiming the coveted Lonsdale belt in their respective weight divisions of super welterweight and cruiserweight.
Being a man who knows his history, Jeffers is also aware of the exploits of Chorley light welterweight Carl Crook who won commonwealth and British titles before he was even born in the early 1990s. Despite always being the youngster among a high calibre group of fighters, Jeffers at 23-years-old is coming of age as a professional boxer.
He is now looking to step out of their shadow and make a name for himself – and who knows how far he could go?
Jeffers said: “ I have been coming down to the gym and watching Mick since I was a kid.
“Obviously he was the biggest fighter around here at the time.
“Everybody in Chorley knows who Mick Jennings is. To be coached by him – you can only look up to somebody like that.
“It would be massive to follow in the tradition.
“Chorley’s had some great fighters, there’s Mick, Carl Crook, Jack Catterall – I am hoping I could be the next one from Chorley.”
Already – despite being young in years in terms of the pro ranks – Jeffers as a considerable amount of experience having turned over as a teenager.
His record is unblemished having picked up 13 wins, including four knockouts, since making his debut with a points victory over Scott Hillman at Robin park, in Wigan, in 2016.
His last outing saw him ease past Michal Ryba, of the Czech Republic, on points at Ponds Forge, in Sheffield, in August.
Now he has the opportunity to step up a level when he takes on Belgium’s Michel Garcia-Sanchez – with the WBO Global supermiddleweight title on the line.
“I am only 23 and I turned pro quite young,” he said. “I was amateur from the age of 10, so I’ve been involved in the sport 13 years now.
“I took my time early on as a professional and hopefully doing it that way will now start to pay off as I get these bigger fights.
“Mick knew it was important that I didn’t run before I could walk.
“He’s been in the game a long time and he just said, ‘Listen you’re still only a kid, get those rounds under your belt and learn on the job’.
“But now I have reached that stage where I want to be pushing on.”
Garcia-Sanchez will certainly be an opponent to be respected. At 33, he 10 years Jeffers’ senior and boasts an impressive record 16 wins from 17 fights.
However, the Chorley fighter believes he has the right amount of experience to deal with the Belgian when the pair meet at the Bolton Whites Hotel on November 26.
Standing at 6ft, Jeffers is a tall super middleweight and Garcia-Sanchez is smaller in terms of height.
“I don’t know a lot about him to be honest,” said Jeffers.
“He is quite a bit smaller than me but is stocky so I will be looking to throw those big shots.”
Should everything go according to plan, Jeffers may look to defend the title and then turn his attentions to winning the English title next year and then the British strap.
In the long-term, he harbours dreams of competing at European and world level and sees no reason why he cannot aim high.
“I can’t afford to look past this fight but I want to get this one won and then look for the English title.
“I wanted that this year but next year that is definitely going to get done.
“I am starting to look ahead and fighting at the highest level is the goal.”
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