James Beech Jr. admits that he is taking a gamble on Saturday when he steps through the ropes to fight Chris Bourke.
The 24-year-old West Midlander believes in taking 50-50 fights and risks against fighters where the threat of losing is real. The punt is linked to his financial income and how much he has sacrificed for a shot at winning the WBC International super-bantamweight belt on the Joe Joyce-Carlos Takam show at the SSE Arena, Wembley, on BT Sport.
Beech has taken unpaid leave from his job as a painter and decorator and has lost out on his wage for 10 weeks so he can prepare diligently and give nothing less than 100% in camp. Speaking to Boxing Social earlier this week he shared his philosophy on why he has taken such a plunge.
“It’s investing in yourself,” he said.
“It’s a gamble but if I win this fight it’s going to open massive doors really so it’s a no-brainer not to really.”
“I’ve got some good sponsors behind me as well,” he added. “They have helped me out with like my medicals, chucked me a couple of hundred quid here and there because they know it’s a big fight. So, I owe a big thanks to them really.”
Beech left school at 16, carried out a week’s labouring before picking up the brushes for a life of painting and decorating which is at eight years and counting. The former Midlands Area featherweight and super-featherweight champion had his professional debut a few years after departing four years of secondary education. Boxing though was part of his life long before English, Maths and Science. His father Jimmy Beech Sr. amassed a 31-fight record (10-21, 2 KOs) over nine years and shared the ring with recognisable British names such as Michael Gomez, Gavin Rees, Willie Limond, Stefy Bull, Denton Vassell and Curtis Woodhouse.
The younger Beech has been boxing for nearly 15 years and a win against Bourke on Saturday would be his biggest triumph to date. It would potentially manoeuvre him back on a path towards a second crack at a British 122lbs title. His first of which came against the ever-improving Brad Foster just over a year ago. The fight went the distance, and the challenger gave a good account of himself. The benefits of the experience showcased themselves when he got back to training.
“I learned a lot about the fight. When I come back, and I was sparring I think my team could tell the difference and that I’d been in a big fight. When I come back, I seemed to be sparring at a level above and it just took me to another level. Last year I just ticked over really. I was in the gym and then I was training three times a week and then this year since Christmas I proper knuckled down in January, and I just lived the life really.
“I took a lot from it; I took a lot of confidence as well. I’ve always thought I can mix it at that level but when you’ve done it you know you can do it. It’s good to take that from it really.”
“Well, it’s the one that I certainly dream of,” he says of the Lonsdale Belt.
“If I won a British title, I’d be happy sort of thing with what I’ve accomplished. I’d be over the moon with a British title. It’d be everything to me really and a win against Bourke would put me back on track for one.”
Winning a British title and running his own painter and decorator business are ambitions that remind you of how humble and working-class a sport boxing is. World titles, enough money for great, great grandkids never enter the conversation for Beech. It’s not a lack of belief more a case of his words acting as a reflection of the man and his character.
With fans returning this weekend for Frank Warren’s card at Wembley, it means fighters like Beech can get back to selling tickets. Working, training and getting friends and family to stump up to watch you fight are a difficult balancing act for any boxer who is not full-time. Bourke’s challenger is looking forward to the buzz and atmosphere of hearing “over a hundred” people cheering him on before, during and after the fight. An experience he missed out on when he fought Foster at the BT Sports studio in Stratford last summer.
“The experience of boxing in the studio was weird. It was like a glorified spar; you could hear everything but it weren’t the same kind of buzz as when your fans are there. I’m sure on Saturday I’ll be buzzing. Some see it as pressure, but I enjoy it really when you walk out and everyone’s singing and dancing about. It gives you that extra buzz.
“Saturday is a big platform and I’ve got to perform really. If I don’t perform then there’s no good being on these big shows. If I perform it puts my name out there and you just never know who is watching. It could lead to a lot of big things.”
Main image: Queensberry Promotions.