Donnington's Kirk Stevens eyes Midlands title
The title clash between Cinderella Men Kirk Stevens and Jamie Stewart has ‘thriller’ scrawled all over it, writes Mike Lockley.
Tonight’s battle for the vacant Midlands light-welter belt appears a sure-fire barnstormer.
They meet on Stewart’s home turf – Fenton Manor Sports Complex – and that appears the only clear advantage he will have.
Both are very hard men, both trade on supreme fitness, both are immensely brave, both have done it the hard way, neither carries knockout power.
A gruelling 10 round war of attrition seems on the cards.
Stewart, a man who, through boxing, overcame a life that threatened to be swamped by drug addiction, is a credit to the game. The 30-year-old is tough as boot leather.
The former Midlands welterweight champ has shown that trait time and again in a 10 bout career (three losses, three draws). It was evident during his draining title defence against rugged Ben Fields, which ended in a draw.
It was evident last time out when Jamie came within a whisker of halting Ireland’s former world youth champ Ray Moylette. That, too, ended in stalemate.
Stevens, from Donnington, is a Rocky of the Wrekin district. A welder and fabricator by day, the 33-year-old doesn’t give a fig for bookies odds.
We’ve written him off before and ended-up with egg on our faces. No-one gave Stevens a chance of winning Tommy Owens’ welter Top Boxer tournament in February after he entered as a 48-hour sub. Yet he bit on his gumshield, took his lumps and won the event.
He hasn’t fought since that near unbelievable night and, overall, has won four of seven.
His manager Jon Pegg said: “They’re both of the same ilk, tough guys who have taken fights away from home.
“Maybe I could see another draw. Both are fit, neither are big punchers. It’s a really good fight. Kirk is an example of what can be achieved if you take your chances. He’s highly underestimated. He’s not the most naturally slick fighter, but that’s not the most important thing in a 10 rounder.
“And, remember, he’s got nothing to lose.”
Father-of-two Stevens added: “I don’t know much about Stewart. I believe he likes a good tear-up. It’s my first 10 rounder, so I’m not planning to go full blast from the get-go. It’s the chance to showcase what I’ve learned. The crowd won’t bother me. I turned pro as a road warrior, in my mind that’s how I see it.
“I didn’t put a pair of gloves on until I was 25, then I trained for a year. I’m still learning on the job, I feel like an 18-year-old in the sport. I’m a work in progress.
“I prefer the pros much more than the amateurs, it’s more my style. It’s more about timing than setting a fast pace, it’s more about placing your shots. It’s about making your punches count.
“Since turning pro, I’ve taken boxing more seriously and I’m more dedicated. People are surprised how much I’ve progressed and I’m improving all the time. I’m always sparring, always training.”
He added: “I want to get to British level,” he added. “Getting and English or British shot would mean the world to me.”
Batten down the hatches. This one may not be for the faint-hearted.