A week away from the biggest fight of his life, and James Beech Jr. oozes confidence and understated West Midlands charm.
The 23-year-old from Bloxwich has previously annexed Midlands Area titles at feather and super-featherweight.
However. next Friday his career will hit a whole new level when he squares off against Brad Foster for the British and Commonwealth titles in the main event of the first post-lockdown boxing show in the UK, mounted by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions at the BT Sport studios in Stratford.
“It’s a massive opportunity being on BT Sport on the first show back,” Beech admits to Boxing Social, not sounding in the least bit intimidated or overawed. “But I’m more excited about fighting for the British title and Commonwealth title if I’m honest. I’m really up for it.
“[Foster] only needs one more defence to win the Lonsdale Belt outright but I think I’m better than him. Basic boxing is going to win me the fight. Once it gets really tough from rounds six or seven onwards, I think I’m going want it more than him.”
Clearly an upbeat and optimistic character, Beech is even able to take positives from the surreal experiences of the last few months, when everyday life has been turned upside down by the curse of the Coronavirus.
“I’ve loved it,” he says of his lockdown experience. “Ever since my son’s been born, I’ve always had a fight coming up, or been working, so I’d only see him for a couple of hours in the morning and before he goes to sleep. Apart from weekends, I’ve never spent so much time with him and I’ve loved it really.”
As though to reinforce his point, the sounds of Beech’s son playing joyfully pipe up in the background of our phone conversation.
The conversation moves on to some of the specifics of next week’s fight; specifically, the fact that Beech won his pair of Area titles at heavier weights. However, despite not having fought at super-bantam since April 2018, Beech is adamant that making 122lbs will not be an issue.
“We’re more or less all done [with training] now. I’m more or less nearly there with the weight. The last couple of days I’ll take on a bit of water. I can make weight stupidly easy,” he said.
Although a new face to mainstream boxing fans, Beech has lived and breathed boxing almost since the moment he was born.
His father, Jimmy Beech Sr., fought as a pro between 1999 and 2008, assembling a 10-21 (3 KOs) career while squaring off against virtually every significant British name you can think of in and around super-feather and lightweight during that era – including Willie Limond, Michael Gomez, Gavin Rees, Carl Johanneson, Denton Vassell and Curtis Woodhouse.
“I’ve been around boxing my whole life. When I was about six, I started going down the gym with my dad. I started boxing properly at about nine or 10 and I’ve stuck with it ever since,” he said.
“Winning the British title is everything to me, mate. It’s what I dream of really. Once I win that, I’ve done everything I set out to do in professional boxing.”
Such is his desire for the Lonsdale Belt, Beech even makes a somewhat surprising admission.
“Five or six weeks ago when I was offered the fight I didn’t even ask what the money was before I said yeah to it. Then I started running up and down the house because I was so excited!” he said.
“I ain’t fussed by [the fight being behind closed doors] to be honest. I think I’ll just take it all in. What I’ll have in the back of my head is that I’m fighting for the British title and hopefully that will be enough to spur me on.
“The viewers can expect excitement. I can box and it’s going to be an exciting fight. I’m excited and it’s going to be a good fight. It’ll catch fire because I think our styles are going to gel.”
Typical of Beech’s down-to-earth approach is the fact he hasn’t even allowed himself to think about life beyond next Friday night and Brad Foster.
“I haven’t even really thought about what happens after the fight to be honest,” he said. “I’ve just got tunnel vision on the British and Commonwealth titles. Win this and who knows what happens and what opportunities open up. All I’m doing is focusing on next Friday right now.”