Big Interview: Chorley boxer Mark Jeffers has the belief that he belongs amongst the very best
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Touted as one of British boxing’s brightest young stars in the middleweight division, the Eccleston lad was cherry-picked as a sparring partner for Billy Joe Saunders.
A former WBO middleweight champion and holder of the WBO super-middleweight belt from 2019-2020, Saunders lists just one defeat on his resume – an eighth-round stoppage defeat to the legendary Mexican Canelo Alvarez.
Jeffers felt the full force of Saunders between the ropes that day but emerged unscathed – and confidence reaffirmed that he belongs in the same space of boxing’s most illustrious names.
Indeed, Jeffers has sparred with other elite fighters including Rocky Fielding, the Smith brothers, Liam and Callum – all of whom have been world champions in their own right.
It does not get much more daunting than being a relative rookie thrown-in against such high-class pedigree.
But so far in his young career, Jeffers has displayed a personality to cope with the demands placed on him.
And undoubtedly has the strength and physique to make the very best sit up and take note.
"Obviously when I was a young lad 18 or 19-years-old, I would be watching these guys on television,” said Jeffers.
"Then when I got the chance to spar with them, I was like, ‘Oh my God’.
"But once I got in there in the ring with them, I felt a lot more comfortable than I thought I would.
"That gives me confidence and I feel it’s testimony to what I feel I can do.”
With an unblemished 14-fight win record as a professional, Jeffers – who turned professional at the age of 18 – has certainly laid the foundations for potentially what could be a sparkling future ahead.
Now aged 24, he believes he is ready to turn up the heat, especially after a difficult and frustrating few years.
The Covid-19 pandemic certainly hampered his progress and a shoulder injury sustained in his last fight ultimately left him entirely on the sidelines in 2022 and ultimately requiring surgery.
“I had an operation last April which put me out for five or six months,” said Jeffers. “I had a tear in one of my ligaments in my right shoulder.
"It actually happened in my last fight in November of 2021.
"I knew as soon as I did it that something was wrong. I missed with a right-hander and I heard it sort of tear.
"I managed to get through the fight but afterwards I had a scan and basically got the all-clear but it happened again in April of last year just before I was due to have my next fight.
"This time the scan showed up exactly what it was and that’s when I had the operation.
"It has been frustrating time but I am looking to make up for it this year.”
Jeffers is hoping to rid himself of the ring-rust with an outing early this year before targeting bigger fights and titles.
He sees no reason why he cannot challenge Zak Chelli for his English super-middleweight crown and Lennox Clarke, who holds the British and commonwealth belts, in the near future.
"For me, the English title is the next goal,” said Jeffers, who became WBO Global super-middleweight champion after victory over Michel Garcia in Bolton in his last outing.
"I know I am good enough to win that belt and that will be a good one for me to get me close to that British title bout.
"I know that I have the potential to be a future world champion. Sparring with world champions like I have done makes me know how good I am and how good I could be.
"It’s just a case of me going out there and proving it now.”
Some of the greatest names in the history of British boxing – and the world for that matter – have fought in the super-middleweight category.
And Jeffers sees no reason why he can’t follow in the footsteps of revered fighters such as Joe Calzaghe, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Carl Froch.
"That’s the dream,” said Jeffers who is trained by Chorley’s former British welterweight champion Michael Jennings and Dave Jennings.
"I think the super-middleweight weight division has always been Britain’s strongest category when you look at some of the fighters we have produced over the years, especially if you look at the past 20 or 30 years.
"As long as I keep working hard then maybe I will be the next one in line.”
Jeffers signed a new deal last year to remain with Kevin Maree’s management company.