Grimsby boxer Kevin Hooper: 'Effort in the gym will be rewarded in the ring'
GRIMSBY boxer Kevin Hooper's training is well underway for his English title showdown with Gary Sykes.
The unbeaten professional will go toe-to-toe with former British champion Sykes at the Beachcomber, in Humberston, on March 15.
Midlands Area lightweight champion Hooper, who also holds British and International Masters honours, will be fighting at super-featherweight for the first time.
Targeting a 14th victory from as many fights, Hooper knows he will have to be in tip-top shape to defeat the recent Prizefighter runner-up.
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Unable to train full-time due to a lack of sponsorship, the Grimsby champion is pounding the pads and clocking up the miles around his two jobs.
He said: "At the end of the day it's how much you put into it.
"I'm working hard. I'm doing a lot of running.
"I've started my track work a bit earlier this time. I'm on the track at King George V Stadium two to three times a week.
"Every other night, I've been running five miles."
Assisting him every mile is Nathan French, his training partner at Woody's Boxing Academy (formerly Grimsby Pro-Am Boxing Club), in Ainslie Street, Grimsby.
"It's good to run with Nathan," said Hooper. "He's training for the ABAs (Amateur Boxing Association Championships), so we've both got goals.
"I'm also in the gym regularly, doing bag work and other exercises."
Hooper is hoping to call on some big names for sparring as his big fight draws closer.
One of those is former Grimsby Town footballer Curtis Woodhouse, the English light-welterweight champion.
And another could be British, Commonwealth and European champion Jamie McDonnell, the nemesis of retired Grimsby professional Wayne Bloy, who lost to the Doncaster man in an English title fight back in 2007.
"My sparring gets underway in a few weeks," said 28-year-old Hooper.
"I've arranged do some sparring with Curtis Woodhouse, who's been over quite a few times in the past. I also may get the chance to visit Stefy Bull's gym in Doncaster, where Jamie McDonnell and Andy Townend train."
To buy tickets for Hooper's title fight, call 07532 380456.