Young, undefeated pro, Dan Morley, was set to go into his first eight rounder – a well-matched Southern Area Title eliminator against Aaron Collins – before the coronavirus struck. Now, he’s been doing his bit to raise money for our embattled NHS.

After six professional bouts and no losses, Morley was building up some career momentum, working hard under coach Adam Martin as part of the renowned Boxing Booth stable. Then, when coronavirus saw sporting events cancelled across the board, putting his title eliminator on ice, Morley decided to run 100K in just six days and raise money for the NHS and cancer charity, Momentum. 

“To be honest with you I don’t really like running,” Morley told Boxing Social. “I know that sounds a bit odd when I’ve just run 100K, but the only reason I run is for road work with boxing. I’ve fought without running and the difference it makes is unbelievable.

“The 100K was always something I knew I’d find hard, but always something I wanted to do. I’d never found the time around training. I would have caused myself an injury, it’s just too much strain on the body.”

Morley’s motivation to spring into action for the UK’s brave, front-line health workers was two-fold. Firstly, and tragically, the loss of his cousin had brought the 23-year-old into close contact with hard-working NHS staff, as well as charity workers at Momentum, who supported his cousin following her diagnosis. 

“My little cousin, Mia, passed away from cancer two years ago. I always wanted to do something to raise money for her and I thought I could join things together by raising money for the NHS, it just kind of all fell together.” 

Then, more recently, the actions of a newly famous World War Two veteran sparked the beginning of Morley’s huge charitable undertaking. 

“I saw Captain Tom Moore doing his hundred laps round his garden and I saw the response he got and the positive effect it spread across the nation and I thought, whilst I’m in lockdown, it’s better than just sitting around and complaining about being bored. I can do something positive and try and raise a little bit of money, as well as doing the challenges that I’ve never had the time to do. 

“I didn’t set a target for how much I wanted to raise ‘cos these are difficult times and I know a lot of people aren’t working, but the response I got just from people I know was great. It surprised me actually how much was raised in a short time.”

Stable-mates, Josh Kelly, Shannon Courteney and Harlem Eubank were quick to get behind his efforts and former Premier League striker, Danny Graham, soon followed, as did Sky Sports. The combined total stood at £1600 after six days and you can still donate by following the links below. 

Morley has a solid, commendable – if not glittering – amateur career behind him. The Epsom fighter started boxing at 14, winning 18 of 25 contests, taking on several national champions and reaching finals of high-profile tournaments. He says it was “quality over quantity”. All the same, the lessons have come thick and fast since turning over as a pro, partially thanks to sparring that aforementioned stable-mate, Josh ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly. 

“I’ve been sparring with Josh Kelly on the regular,” said Morley, “For me that’s harder than the fights because you deal with the nerves and that’s probably a world class fighter. I just want to keep that up and then, in terms of fights, I’ll probably push towards a Southern Area title. If I keep this level of sparring up the fight will be second nature.”

Morley believes that the cancelled fight with Aaron Collins could still go ahead when sporting life returns to normality. It would be an interesting eliminator bout for fans too, with Morley pitching his 6-0 record against Collins’ similar 6-1. 

“I hope the match with Collins happens, I think stylistically it’s a good fight,” Morley said, before crediting some of his past opponents. 

“[The journeymen I’ve faced so far,] they’re all so tough. People see the records and they underestimate their skills and their toughness. These guys are good fighters. They fight every week and their main aim is to just not get stopped and to just rough you up a little bit.”

Morley’s words are bound to resonate with boxing fans, those who know the miles, rounds and hardships that journeymen go through to keep the British boxing scene alive.

The courage of Britain’s journeymen remained the focus a little while longer too, as Morley entertained me with a memorable anecdote of in-ring bravery and amazing toughness. “The toughest opponent was Lee Hallet, in my second fight,” said the young prospect. “I did him with a body shot and, I didn’t realise at the time, he got up and he seemed fine, but I’d actually broken his ribs. He went on and fought the next week! It’s nuts. Fair play to him.”

Canning Town trained tough-guy, Hallet, did indeed fight the next week, taking broken ribs into just his fourth professional fight. Coincidentally, he took on Morley’s intended future opponent, Aaron Collins, losing a points decision – thus completing a small hall circle. 

Coronavirus may have put the brakes on Morley’s fledgling career, but the young fighter has used the time well. Between fundraising, developing as a boxing writer and working hard to maintain his fitness, he’s spending time with his mother and little brother and looking forward to a promising career. It’s one we’re looking forward to watching. 

Article by: George Storr

Follow George on Twitter at: @George_Storr1