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Dave Coldwell on the UK’s top coaches (CC68)

GOOD TIMES: Bob Shannon has brought the best out of his fighters

ALL the rave at the moment is British fighters going over to the States to work with the big-name trainers. It obviously attracts our fighters as they have some of the biggest superstars of the sport in their gyms. The quality of sparring is second-to-none and it brings our British fighters on without a doubt after a spell over there.


But we also have some good trainers over here too, men that have plugged away for years away from the spotlight and have helped turn out some quality UK talent.


Last year was a good year for some established and new trainers as we had good prospects coming through and some champions establishing themselves, and we shouldn’t forget the men that helped get them there.


Bob Shannon up in Manchester had a fantastic year, he took Prince Arron to Prizefighter glory, Denton Vassell became Commonwealth Champion and Matthew Hatton came out of his brother’s shadow to become European Champion and then made a couple of solid defences which have now led to him getting a big fight out in the States against Saul Alvarez.


‘Arnie’ Farnell also has come more and more into the spotlight as he has some great prospects in his gym. Frankie Gavin is developing into a world-class prospect after only a handful of fights, and he heads a host of young pros that will look to make a breakthrough in the next year-18 months.


Farnell broke into the ‘Trainer of Champions’ club when the hard-hitting and exciting Tony Bellew became Commonwealth light-heavy champion. Although the pair are now separated, 2010 was a good year for the young Farnell and Bellew is the first of many champions that will come out of his gym.


Robert McCracken is without doubt one of our best trainers and he had a big year in 2010 with Carl Froch involved in two huge fights in the Super Six Series. Although Carl narrowly lost to Mikkel Kessler, McCracken came up with the perfect strategy and gameplan for Carl when he went over to Finland to totally outclass Arthur Abraham. McCracken is also responsible, along with his team, for the great crop of amateurs that are coming through in the GB squad which he works with at the base in Sheffield. We had some great results and performances in 2010. The future is really in good hands with Rob.


Up in Scotland Billy Nelson has worked wonders with his men over the last 12 months. His highlights have been taking John Simpson over to Belfast to beat the talented and impressive Martin Lindsay to become the British champion, and the magnificent win by Ricky Burns over Roman Martinez that landed Ricky the WBO title.


Both of Billy’s men were the underdog in those fights, but both put on tremendous performances to rip the titles away from the champions.


Jim McDonnell developed a very good prospect in James Degale into an outstanding looking British champion when he beat Paul Smith. McDonnell has had a few good champions in the past and has always been well-respected, but on the back of Degale’s improvement in such a short timespan you would have to say he had a very good year.


Adam Booth had a very successful 2010 with two world heavyweight championship wins for David Haye and taking George Groves to his first professional title when he captured the Commonwealth belt, which he went on to defend.


Manchester really is a hotbed for boxing talent. Joe Gallagher had a fantastic year with European title wins for John Murray and Matthew Macklin. Both of those men will be making moves into world class in the coming year and Gallagher, like Farnell, has some good quality prospects coming through.


We may not have the glittering names, but we have some good fighters who are trained by some very underrated men.


2011 will be a very interesting year for the men in the corner of some of our biggest names. There are some big fights for champions that will be made and a lot of prospects will be stepped up and tested.



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