A JOURNEY that started with 6am runs at Locke Park before school and travelling across the country for amateur fights with Barnsley Star ABC will now take Callum Simpson into his first televised fight tomorrow evening.
The 26-year-old super-middleweight from the town centre is due to face Celso Neves at the Manchester Arena live on Sky Sports.
He recently signed a deal with the broadcaster and promoter BOXXER following a fine start to his professional career with saw him win all ten fights so far, mostly by early knock-out, and take the Central Area Title.
Simpson started boxing as a nine-year-old at Barnsley Star on Doncaster Road, which was run by Trevor Schofield and John Sagar.
The former Holgate school and Horizon school pupil said: “I can still remember walking into the gym with my dad and asking for Trev and John.
“It just went from there.
“I spent so much time in that gym.
“In the summer it was red hot and in the winter it was freezing. It was a great group of guys.
“John and Trevor used to drive me up and down the country, as far as Devon sometimes. I think I had 53 amateur fights with them. They looked after me.
“I always had to tell my mates I couldn’t play out after school because I was going to the gym.
“I would be down there four or five nights a week. I wanted to go down there every night but I would sometimes have a school football or rugby match.
“On a morning through the week, John or my dad would take me down to Locke Park for sprint training at 6am.
“Then I would go to school and be back in the gym at 5pm. They were long and tough days but, if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“I have great memories down there. I still try to show my face there sometimes.
“I saw Trevor recently and he was saying they all look up to me down there and want to emulate me which was nice to hear.”
Simpson has been heartened by the support of the Barnsley public during his professional career so far, with hundreds of fans expected to back him this weekend.
“The interest from the general public is a lot more. People are recognising me out and about and saying ‘good luck’.
“I have been to a couple of games at Oakwell recently and the support has been really good.
“Whether it’s Barnsley fans or Barnsley people in general, hopefully they can get behind me.
“My plan is to have a title fight at Oakwell – ideally for a world title but any title would be great.
“We have had very good fighters from Barnsley, at British level, but I believe I am the one who can go all the way to the top.”
Opponent Neves, 32, was born in Portugal but is a Swiss national champion. He has had 14 professional fights, winning nine, drawing two and losing three – including against unbeaten Brit Felix Cash last year.
Simpson said: “He was last out in December and took Felix Cash eight rounds. It was a tough fight.
“Felix is on the fringe of world level.
“It should be a good fight and I am looking forward to it.
“He’s experienced and he’s been Swiss champion.
“With the past few we have tried stepping it up in terms of opponents.
“On paper they are steps up but when we get in the ring it goes the same as the rest of my fights.
“But I will be expecting a tough opponent and definitely won’t take it lightly.
“I want to get the win but I want to look good.
“I don’t want to look like a boring fighter.
“Last week was my last full week of training and sparring and this week I have just been cutting my weight down and getting ready.
“I have done more interviews, with Sky Sports and other media.
“Fight week is a lot different with a press conference, media work-out and a public weigh in. But it’s good and it’s the level I wanted to get to.”