Burnley boxer Reece Farnhill wants to fly the flag for his nation
Reece Farnhill may not be looking to build an amateur record of Vasyl Lomachenko or Guillermo Rigondeaux's proportions but the Burnley boxer knows that an accomplished and established grounding in the sport is vital.
The Ukrainian, who goes by the alias “Hi Tech”, and the Cuban southpaw will enter the ring on December 9th with more than 750 wins between them in the elementary ranks as well as four Olympic gold medals.
The two champions, who will challenge for the WBO World Super Featherweight Title, are the ultimate example that patient progression towards becoming a professional certainly pays off.
Those CVs are clearly extreme illustrations but 19-year-old Farnhill, who fights out of Sandygate ABC, is using the British contingent of successful amateurs as inspiration in his development.
The likes of Anthony Joshua, Amir Khan, Luke Campbell, Joshua Buatsi, Gamal Yafai, Lawrence Okolie and Nicola Adams are all in that pool of fighters who productively represented their nation before seeking a step up.
Asked about the proposed timescale for defection, the Sabden pugilist said: “It’ll be another five years yet. I want to win something as an amateur because it gives you a better start as a pro, rather than having to work your way up for five years, having fights on little shows.
“I think a lot of amateurs who have turned pro, who have had a good background, have gone on to do really well. You can see their skills that they’ve learnt from being in the England team and it’s paying off as a professional.
“Hopefully I can get on the England team and work towards being the best I can be. The more experience I get the better I’ll be and I’ll be able to handle myself in the pro game.
“I just want to represent my country and GB against world class boxers. You get paid, it’s like a job, so it’s good.
“There are a lot of tournaments all over the world like the Commonwealth Games. With the Olympics I’ll just see how far I can get with that and hopefully one day I’ll be there. Boxing for GB in the Olympics would be amazing and such an honour.”
The teenager, who switched to his current base from Ribble Valley ABC three years ago, is currently having his growth monitored by national coaches having impressed at England Boxing’s Elite Men’s 75kg+ Open Talent Day.
Such recognition came off the back of victory in the North West Championship for Young People Final, to progress to the National stages, and further triumph in the Class B Senior Developments National Championships.
Now that he’s on the radar, he said: “Last year I won the Novices so I had about seven fights in six weeks. I won all of them. In the final I boxed a lad called Danny Barrett, a southpaw. It was a bit of a messy fight but I beat him on a unanimous decision.
“That’s definitely my biggest success so far. It felt good. Andy (Howcroft), Shane (Armer) and all my coaches put a lot of hard work in as well so it felt like I’d given something back to them.
“It feels good and it makes it seem like all the hard work that you’ve put in has been worthwhile. It’s a good feeling.
“I’m hoping this year will be a good one. “This year I hope to represent England, get on the team, and keep boxing for them. Hopefully I’ll get on the Great Britain team after that but if it doesn’t work out I’ll turn pro and see how far I can go as a professional.
“I’ve been on two talent pathway days where they assess you on your fitness, technical skills, and I did well on both of them.
“On the second one I dropped two lads in sparring and I got quite a lot of good feedback. I haven’t heard back from them since but it’s a slow process I think.
“I just need to keep winning, keep training hard and hopefully they’ll see that and get me on board. It’s what I’ve been working towards for four years so it would mean everything.”Farnhill’s experience doesn’t just include the 27 contests that he’s had at this level, it involves the strenuous and disciplined training camps that he is constantly undertaking, his strict lifestyle and sparring against decorated opponents.
Farnhill’s growth spirt in his development has seen him pitted against professionals such as Qasim Niaz and British title challenger Shayne Singleton.
“I’ve progressed a lot,” he said. “From the sparring when I first started off I was doing it with novices who weren’t very good but now I’m sparring with people like Shayne Singleton, a professional who is at British title level.
“I’ve sparred with a lot of other pros too. My physical shape and everything else has changed. I was the same weight when I first started as I am now and that’s four years on but my size has changed. It’s been good here, I’ve learnt a lot and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more.”
The exciting prospect’s immediate future lies in Holland where he’ll compete in Eindhoven over three days. He’ll then enter the NABC Championships next month and the English Title Series. That cocktail of competition will help him prepare for the Elite Championships in April, a key tournament that could shape his future.
“I think my strengths are my pressure when I’m fighting, I’m good at going forward, quite strong, I’ve been told I hit quite hard, which is a good thing,” he said. “I think I can work on trying to calm myself down, pick my shots more and try to look for the shots.
“There are the Elite Championships in April which I would like to win. If you win them I’ll have a good chance of getting on to the GB team.
“Then once I’m on that there are the Commonwealth Games and a lot of other tournaments that I can go to. Hopefully I can go on and win some medals.
“Firstly, I’m going to Holland on October 18th. I’ll have three fights over there in three days in Eindhoven. That will be a good experience against good level lads. It will be a good competition. I just want to see how far I can go so I’ll keep working hard.”
Any individuals or local businesses who would be interested in sponsoring Reece can get in touch with Sandygate ABC coach Andy Howcroft on 07866 073353.