Wolverhampton’s Andy Owen wants to swap the frontline for ring time as he lobbies the fight world for his pro debut writes Craig Birch.
NHS worker Owen, who is managed by BCB Promotions, has shed over four-and-a-half stone in the past 12 months, having trimmed down to 12st 4lbs through a rigorous exercise regime.
But, at the age of 33, time might be against the married father-of-two, with pro shows still only being staged behind-closed-doors due to the pandemic.
That means only televised offerings are commercially viable to take place with Eddie Hearn, Frank Warren, Mick Hennessy and MTK Global taking up the bulk of the slots.
A baptism of fire on his pro bow doesn’t faze Owen, who is used to performing under pressure through his role with the NHS, which is based at New Cross Hospital.
He’s employed as an associate practitioner in the MicroBiology department, having joined the health service 14 years ago as a medical laboratory assistant.
Ensuring a swift turnaround of Coronavirus test samples has proved an important task, serving not only New Cross but neighbouring hospitals and GP practices.
Owen, who lives in Perton but is originally from New Invention, has long combined his profession and pastimes to great effect.
He was a kickboxer, before playing football in the academy at Worcester City FC as a teenager. He didn’t take up boxing until he was 24.
He’s competed at amateur level on six occasions, with five wins, representing Wolverhampton Boxing Club under the tutelage of ex-pro Richie Carter.
Owen trains Carter’s stable of fighters, but will have his mentor in the corner when he steps through the ropes into a pro ring.
Opportunity now needs to knock so Owen can get his big boxing break, with the full support of his NHS colleagues who have performed so admirably against the odds.
He said: “It’s been a challenging time, for anyone involved with the NHS. For me, the past year has been massively harder than the 13 before that!
“I think we’re the forgotten frontline workers, in some respects, but you can imagine how busy it’s been as a main hub for Coronavirus testing.
“Because I’m on the frontline, I’ve been vaccinated and it’s great to see that there’s that light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, the worst of the pandemic is over.
“It’s been a massive effort, from us all in the NHS, to get here and I’ve seen, first-hand, how everyone has pulled together. We’ve all played our part.
“At the start of the first lockdown, I was 17st and just concentrating on coaching, when it came to boxing. I only started running again as stress relief from work.
“I was doing 12-hour shifts, at the start of the pandemic, but I got myself into a routine where I would run every day, no matter what time it may be. The weight just started dropping off.
“I’d always toyed with the idea of becoming a pro boxer and, as I was getting fitter and fitter, it just seemed more and more like I’d be able to do it. I haven’t been this light since I was 18.
“I’ve been granted a pro licence and I was already qualified to be a second (cornerman). Richie (Carter) will be taking me in when I fight. His experience is a big advantage for us.
“I’ve not always been able to train in the gym, due to the restrictions, but we are allowed to, at the moment, as we’re considered to be professional athletes.
“I can’t be hanging around to make my debut, at my age, and I’m in a situation where I need to get on one of these TV shows. I just need that chance, to get my pro career started.
“I think I could cause a few shocks, in the pro game. I’m an aggressive fighter, who likes to come forward and throw a lot of punches, so I’m good to watch.
“I just want to get the ball rolling and see where it lands. Nothing fazes me, about boxing, so I’m certainly not scared of a test. They (the matchmakers) know where I am.”